The gorgeous Bolaven Plateau can be found in the southern part of Laos. Sitting in an ancient volcano, it is a beautiful natural area with many waterfalls, plantations, farms, and local markets. Well-known for its different ethnic groups, commonly referred to as hill tribes, the lush greenery and cooler temperatures of the hilly landscapes are sure to entice. Serene and peaceful, here are several things to see when exploring this picture-perfect part of Laos:
1. Tat Fan Waterfall
You are likely to already have seen pictures of the glorious Tat Fan Waterfall hanging in guesthouse rooms and on restaurant walls. Also sometimes spelt as Tad Fan / Tad Fane / Tat Fane, it is often said to be one of the most enchanting waterfalls in all of Laos. A tall double waterfall, the powerful cascades plummet over the cliff top, falling for around 120 metres before crashing into the glistening pool below. Surrounded by lush nature and plenty of wildlife, head to the viewing point at Tad Fane Resort for some of the best views of this twin beauty.
If you are feeling energetic you could also join a guided hike to the top of the stunning falls, enabling you to see where the two streams of Huay Bang Lieng race towards the cliff’s edge before making their rapid descent down the craggy rocks.
You need to pay 5,000 LAK (approximately 0.60 USD) to enjoy the waterfalls, but the magnificent views make the small cost more than worth it.
2. Tat Yuang Waterfall
Also spelt as Tad Yuang Waterfall, the striking Tat Yuang is another magnificent twin waterfall. The double falls aren’t quite as pronounced, however, as Tat Fan, with a lighter flow of water caressing the rocks in between the raging drops. You start at the top of the falls, where you can paddle amongst the rocks, before climbing down to gaze back up at the stunning sight. Swimming is possible in the clear pool at the bottom and there is a lovely rest area where many locals like to enjoy a picnic.
The entrance fee for this waterfall is 10,000 LAK (approximately 1.20 USD).
3. Tea and coffee plantations
The Bolaven Plateau has numerous fertile and aromatic tea and coffee plantations, many of which are open to visitors. As well as being able to wander through the crops and appreciate the care that goes into achieving the perfect yield, many plantations also have small shops selling an assortment of locally grown produce as well as tasting opportunities. Grab a cup of tea or coffee and savour the taste, knowing that the leaves / beans were grown in the same area that you are exploring!
You may even be able to try one of the most expensive coffees in the world – Luwak Coffee. The civet cat is essential for the coffee’s production … just try and forget how the beans are processed as you are drinking! The civet cat eats the raw coffee beans, which then sit and ferment in its gut for a while before passing through in its excrement. Eager coffee producers then sift through the creature’s waste to retrieve the beans and use then to make coffee! It is only the bean that is used though; don’t worry - it’s not made from poop!
4. Ethnic villages
The Bolaven Plateau has a number of ethnic villages, many of which welcome visitors to see how traditional homes are built and observe a different way of life. Children and adults show their traditional clothes and many showcase an assortment of cultural objects, musical instruments, crafts, and household items. They are ideal for people who enjoy learning more about different cultures and traditions.
Other delights of the Bolaven Plateau
Take time to peruse the wide array of handicrafts and locally grown goods at the lively and colourful markets, perhaps picking up a few souvenirs and keepsakes along the way. Other beautiful waterfalls include Tat Champee, Tat Lo, and Tat Hang. There are plenty of walking routes for hiking enthusiasts and many visitors opt to explore the area by rented scooter, following the bumpy roads and discovering an abundance of new and interesting places along the way.
Pakse is a major gateway to the splendid Bolaven Plateau, and from here you can also visit the ancient Khmer-style ruins of Wat / Vat Phu and wander through the quiet provincial town.
Stray away from the well-trodden path and explore roads a little less discovered as you journey through Laos’s gorgeous Bolaven Plateau.
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