Bolaven Plateau, located about an hour east of Pakse, is known for its waterfalls, coffee plantations and cooler temperatures. Although you can visit the region on a day trip from Pakse, it is also popular to take 2 to 5 days and do the Bolaven Plateau loop on a motorcycle. We opted to do something in between and hired a car and driver for a 2 day/1 night out and back.
We used Green Discovery again for the transportation. In retrospect the roads here were far better than up north, traffic was light and we could have easily driven ourselves.
From Pakse we drove to the furthest point east on our itinerary, Tayicseua, where there are 7 “significant” waterfalls to explore along a hiking route.
This is a weird place. Lonely Planet accurately describes it as a resort in progress. Buildings are under construction and there was no one around when we arrived to tell us where the trails to the waterfalls were.
There is a sign, however, with pictures of the 7 main waterfalls and an explanation in poor English that you can’t visit all the waterfalls in a single day, at least that’s what I think they mean.
We found a platform with a distant view of the first waterfall. A young French woman later told me that there are ladders that take you closer but the view is not very good and the ladders are in poor condition as is the platform.
Next a sign lead us to waterfalls 2-5 and we spent the next 3 hours stomping up and down steep trails to find them.
The first one, number 2, is small and unremarkable.
The second one, Jarou Halang, a high fall viewed from an open grassy area, is the most impressive. It’s to the left at the second turn off the main trail. Once you get down to the falls there are two viewing areas. The one to the right is further back and not quite as muddy. The spray from the falls made it difficult to keep the camera dry.
The trails to the last two falls fork off the same trail as number 3.
The first turn off, which was actually to number 5, was not really a fall but rather some rapids with pools for swimming and would make a nice picnic spot.
The last fall for us, number 4, was hard to find. Make a sharp turn to the right near a big rock to a small viewing area close to the falls. If you get to an area with large bamboo canes close to the river you have gone too far. The turnoff, however, is easier to spot heading back up the trail than down.
After we finished the hike we had lunch at the resort restaurant, a large open terrace overlooking the river. A pleasant place to hang out and have a beer but the food is not good. Large portions of poor quality basic food to feed hungry hikers.
The noodle soup and the fried noodles were basically the same dish, except one was in broth and the other fried. The papaya salad wasn’t much better. Despite the chili, it had little flavor.
We saw few other tourists during our visit. Notwithstanding the higher elevation, temperatures were still warm for hiking.
If you want to photograph the falls in better light I would suggest spending the night to see them in the early morning or late evening.
Tayicseua may be difficult to find on your own as some of the turn off signs are overgrown by bushes. It’s about 45k past Paksong with the last 11k on a dirt road.
On the way to Sabaidee Valley Resort we stopped at the coffee shop at the Paksong Highland plantation, where they have a viewing platform overlooking the coffee orchard.
On the plateau they grow coffee on every spare parcel of land, similar to the tiny vineyards you see in Burgundy. Here nearly every house has a small plot or hedge of coffee. Bananas and other crops grow here as well. Being a plateau there are not great vistas but it is lush and a different landscape from the rice fields at lower elevations.
November 10, 2019
For links to all the posts in this series see the Laos/Cambodia page.