I did not plan on visiting Pakse or the Bolaven Plateau Laos while I was traveling through this country but sometimes the best days are those completely unforeseen.

My partner Joe and I booked an overnight Laos sleeper bus from Vang Vieng to Savannakhet and were due to arrive at our destination at 6 am.

After a rough, wild, and slightly uncomfortable night in the back of a bus with no windows, we woke up to the Lao bus driver yelling at us to get off the bus as we were at the last stop. Disoriented and barely awake we hopped off the bus and to our surprise we were in the city of Pakse.

If you are not familiar with Laos, this meant that we over shot Savannakhet by 2 and a half hours…whoops.

Having our full fill of the bus life in Laos we decided to stay exactly where we ended up. To our surprise, Pakse Laos and the surrounding Bolaven Plateau has lots to offer and is now one of my favorite places to visit in Laos.

Exploring the Bolaven Plateau Laos

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Most people explore this area on motorbike to ride the Bolaven Plateau loop. There are two loops available on the Bolaven plateau a 3 day loop and a 5 day loop.

The three day loop takes you past majestic waterfalls and the beautiful countryside without feeling rushed. The 5 day route travels all the way to Attapeau, which is close to the Vietnamese border.

As I mentioned earlier, since we arrived in Pakse on accident, we only had 1 day to explore the area. Therefore this post is about how to explore the Bolaven Plateau Laos in one day as a mini, one day action packed version of the Bolaven Plateau loop.

Day 1:

  • Rent a Motorbike
  • Tad Fane Waterfall
  • Tad Yuang Waterfall
  • Tad Lo waterfall
  • Bolaven Coffee Tour
  • Tad Hang waterfall

How to Get to Pakse & the Bolaven Plateau

The best way to explore the Bolaven Plateau is on a motorbike. It costs 80,000 KIP (roughly $8 USD) to rent a moped for the whole day. But before we do any of that, you’ll need to arrive in the town of Pakse.

From Pakse to Bolaven Plateau, there are several Bolaven Plateau waterfalls clustered together located 45 minutes to an hour outside of the town of Pakse. Follow the only road that leads out of town to get to the Laos waterfalls.

Along the Pakse Loop way you’ll pass through a few local villages and a beautiful countryside as the area is mostly rural.

Book Transportation to Pakse →

Things to do in Southeast Asia

Pakse Loop | Things to do on Bolaven Plateau

In this section, I’ll go over how to spend one day in Pakse on the Bolaven Plateau loop.

Tad Fane Waterfall

Tad Fane waterfall is the first waterfall you will visit.  Tad Fane is a set of two waterfalls cascading down the side of a mountain and the most popular waterfall in Southern Laos.  

The Tad Fane waterfall reminded me of a scene straight out of Jurassic Park.  I traveled here during the wet season, so there was a lot of fog the day I explored this area but it was still such an epic sight to see.

Tad Yuang Waterfall

The next waterfall you will visit on the Bolaven Plateau loop is the Tad Yuang waterfall. This Pakse waterfall was my favorite.

In the dry season, you can take a dip above or below the falls.  There are also restaurants and shops that line the parking lot if you’re looking to grab a bite to eat. It cost 25,000 KIP ($3 USD) to enter each waterfall.

Bolaven Coffee Tour

Keep journeying 20 minutes past Tad Fane and check out a Bolaven Plateau coffee and tea plantation. Koffie’s Coffee tour is a unique, highly informative tour with an overload of information about coffee growing, harvesting, processing and quality of coffee around the world.

Not only will you learn how to roast coffee but you’ll get to taste all your hard work. If you’re willing to splurge on an experience go zip lining and drink the Laotian coffee above a waterfall. Bucket list goals thats all I have to say.

Tad Lo Waterfall & Tad Hang Waterfall

If you plan to spend more than one day exploring the Bolaven Plateau loop keep going to reach two more Bolaven Plateau waterfalls. You’re heading to Tad Lo waterfall which is 10 meter tall on the banks of the Xe Set.

Tad Hang waterfall is also close by where in the summer you can swim around in the pools that surround this fall. If you are staying in this area, there is a long, scenic walk that takes you to all three falls on a well marked trail.

WHERE TO EAT IN THE BOLAVEN PLATEAU

Salachampa– Connected to Salachampa Hotel, a perfect place to sip a Laobeer and try some Lao dishes.

Daolin– Serves a variety of pastas, Thai food and offers a lot of vegetarian options. Great price point. Open daily 6:30 am – 9 pm.

Cafe Em– an outdoor coffee shop using organic, freshly roasted Arabica beans from the Bolaven Plateau. Open daily from 6 am – 7 pm. Located by Tad Lo and Tad Hang.

Where to Stay in Pakse, Laos

There are plenty of places to stay in Pakse that will accommodate all different travel styles and budgets. Here are some of the top hotels in Pakse to check out.

  • The Salachampa Hotel is located in the center of Pakse. The hotel offers simply furnished rooms and the convenience of an on-site restaurant. Stays include services like luggage storage and laundry.
  • Tad Fane Resort is located walking distance to the Tad Fane Waterfall. The rooms are basic but you if you’re looking for a retreat in nature this is the spot for you. Every room comes with a balcony and A/C.
  • Tad Lo Lodge has an amazing location on riverside and is a 5 min walk to Tad Lo waterfall.
  • Champasak Grand Hotel has large spacious rooms that are tastefully decorated and located 15 minutes away from the airport. Some of the top amenities include a spa, fitness center and a large outdoor pool.
  • A quiet but central location.La Jardin Hotel has comfortable beds and an outdoor pool. Perfect spot to rest your hat after a day of exploring the Bolaven Plateau.
The Bolaven Plateau, Laos - How to Spend 1 Day 6

Bolaven Plateau & Pakse Travel Tips

  • Visa: The USA and most European countries need a visa to travel Laos and you can obtain these at the border. Check here to find out if you need a visa to travel Laos.
  • Purchase Travel Insurance: I use SafetyWing Travel Insurance. It includes medical and trip coverage even for my brief visits back home to Hawaii or the PNW for up to 30 days.
  • Currency: Laotian KIP is the currency of Laos. 8,000 KIP is about 1 USD. Average daily budget is $40 USD’s and that’s not denying yourself of pleasures.
  • Pack your Rain Gear.
  • Wear breathable clothing.

Bolaven Plateau Tours

If you’re short on time, touring the Bolaven Plateau on a tour is a great way to see a lot of the area in a short amount of time. You won’t have to worry about acquiring transportation or organizing the logistics as it’ll be taken care of by tour guides.

📌 Here are some Bolaven Plateau Tours to check out:

Vang Vieng Travel Guide-3

Southern Laos Travel Guides

Laos is often referred to as the forgotten nation in Southeast Asia and fewer make it to Southern Laos. Check out the guides below to plan your travels to this part of the country.

Don Det & 4000 Islands Travel Guide – Don Det is the most popular destination in the 4000 islands, a quaint village located within the confines of the Mekong Delta.

Where to Stay in the 4000 Islands – There are a few different islands to stay. Find out which island is best for you and where to stay.

The Ultimate Guide to Laos – The big guide with everything to see, do, eat, stay, how to get around and tips to prepare you for a trip to Laos.

2 Week Laos Itinerary – How to spend 2 weeks exploring Laos.

7 Unbelievable Places to Visit in Laos – Add these destinations to your bucket list.

Border Crossing with AVT | Laos to Cambodia – The easiest way to cross the border from Don Det to Siem Reap.

Final Thoughts on Pakse & the Bolaven Plateau

Exploring Pakse and the surrounding Bolaven Plateau is sure to be an unforgettable adventure. From roaring waterfalls to quaint rural villages, there is beauty around every corner.

On my next visit to this breathtaking nation, I’ll be adding the full Bolaven Plateau loop to my itinerary. Happy travels.

More Laos Travel Guides ↓

📍 Planning a trip to Laos? Check out the guides below for more inspiration and tips to plan your travels.

Unique Experiences to have in Luang Prabang

Vang Vieng, Laos Travel Guide

Best Bars & Restaurants in Vang Vieng

Catching the Slow Boat from Thailand to Laos

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