The Bolaven Plateau is located in an ancient volcano that erupted millions of years ago, the area spans 50 km of Southern Laos most vegetated area.
From an alititude of 800 and 1350 meters (Paksong area) it is green all year round and cooler than the rest of Laos and Thailand. Surrounding the plateau there are a number of protected national parks, dramatic waterfalls, remote hill tribes, dense jungle and a taste of some of the world's best coffee beans.
Paksong is the heart of the plateau, the small but charming town branches off into the vast areas of Saravan or Attapeu, known for its rich coffee, relaxing climate and friendly citizens, its a populated area full of tranquility....and no tour groups.
Tat Champee waterfall, opposite of Tat Fane waterfall.
Minorities, Waterfalls, Jungle and Coffee plantations
Those main components are everywhere on the Bolaven Plateau, its not neccesary to search for them. It starts already on the road to Pakse - Paksong, the road leads you through this all, even with a one day trip on a regular bus from Pakse to Paksong or Attapeu you pass all of this. You only really need a guide if you like to know all there is to know about coffee growing at a Coffee Farm or when you like to do one of the trekkings at Tat Fane Waterfall.
The area is populated by so many farmers coming to the district, that both markets in Paksong and Thateng have more shops than houses. Most of the people live in small villages in the jungle and if they are not growing it, they are buying their produce at the market which makes it an interesting experiece when you go.
Over the years many guest houses have popped up across the Bolaven Plateau but not enough travellers to occupy them. Still with so many natural attractions there is always an experience to be had.
The main road from Pakse - Paksong - Thateng - Sekong - Attapeu (road 16) is paved and in a very good condition. The short cut to Paksong - Attapeu is a dirt road. The former dirt road between Tatheng and Ban Beng is plaved since May 2010.
Dirt roads during rainy season can be very dangerous, volcanic soil and water act as ice...
The next morning when the rain has gone the danger is over but the mud is your next challenge!
The shortcut Paksong - Attapeu at the "big loop" was between 1970 - 1975 a part of the Ho Chi Minh Trail during the Vietnam War to provide another North South connection as the two previous roads were bombed out. Nowadays you can see a mix of minorities and as the towns developed small petrol stations, waterfalls and the jungle, has now become the main attractions. Its one of the most beautiful spots from Southern Laos (the big loop).
How to plan the Bolaven Plateau on your trip through Laos.
It doesnt matter if you do Laos from North to South or from South to North, you can still access the city of Pakse where there are buses to Paksong, Tatheng, Sekong and Attapeu that run every hour. In Pakse you can rent small motorbikes and bicycles.
In Pakse are also buses to Don Det (Si Phan Don or 4000 islands, Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam and the capital of Laos, Vientiane.
From Vientiane there is also a direct overnight sleeper bus to Paksong and in Savannakhet you can also get direct local buses to Paksong.
A nice trip on a bicycle or motorbike is the Small Loop or the Big Loop through the Bolaven plateau, but also a one day trip to Paksong is a trip as described in 1001 nights.