Pakse Bolaven loop, Laos

Pakse Bolaven Loop: Full Itinerary (1 – 4 Days)

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A 340-km trail that circles through the elevated plateau of Bolaven in Southern Laos, the Pakse Bolaven Loop or Lao Waterfall Loop is an iconic loop that takes its riders on a scenic journey that overlooks lush jungles, cascading waterfalls, and remote ethnic minority villages. 

Typically, you can finish the loop in 3-4 days, giving you ample time to discover key sights and take in the countryside at a relaxed pace. Along the Pakse loop, there are chances to engage with local communities and delve into Lao traditions. Travelers can pause during the journey to meet locals, taste authentic cuisine, and immerse themselves in rural life, ensuring a memorable experience amidst Laos’ natural splendor.

We completed the extensive Pakse loop, and this blog showcases all the must-visit spots along the route, including accommodation options and other essential details. Follow our suggested itinerary, and you will be guaranteed an amazing experience.

Throughout the Pakse Bolaven Loop, expect to ride about 100 km each day, passing through three southern Lao provinces: Champasak, Sekong, and Attapeu. The waterfalls on the Bolaven Plateau are fed by various rivers, such as the Vang Ngao, Tat Lo, Xe Namnoy, Champee, and Pat Koot rivers.

Before you plan your itinerary, you must know a few vital things about the Pakse motorbike loop. Make sure to read that blog first.

Pakse Bolaven Loop Itinerary

Pakse Big Loop Itinerary – 4 Days/ 3 Nights

Day 1 (Pakse – Tad Lo, 92 Km)

Begin your journey from Pakse and ride along paved roads and wooden bridges until you reach Tad Lo village. The roads are mostly flat and in good condition on the first day, but expect heavy-loaded trucks passing frequently. Along the way, you’ll pass cassava factories and farms, with a noticeable strong smell throughout the loop.

Pha Suam Waterfall

Pha Suam Waterfall

The nearest waterfall to Pakse is Pha Suam Waterfall. In the monsoon season, water flows across all the ridges, creating a series of waterfalls, while in the summer, water only flows at the center. Due to the resort being unoccupied since COVID-19, the waterfall appears deserted, though people can still be seen. Although you can’t reach the waterfall’s base, its square-shaped brown and black rocks give it a scenic look.

  • Entry fee: Free
  • Parking: Free
  • Swimming: Not possible
  • Cliff jumping: No

Tad Soung Waterfall

Tad Soung Waterfall

Following the unpaved mud road past the Buddhist temple leads to a parking lot. From there, a short walk takes you to the top of Tad Soung Waterfall, which drops from a considerable height. From this vantage point, you can enjoy views of valleys, bridges, and nearby settlements. Additionally, there’s a viewpoint and a 2 km trail leading to the waterfall’s base.

This is the only waterfall along the entire Pakse Bolaven Loop where we encountered minimal or no water during our visit in late February during the summer months.

  • Entry fee: Free
  • Parking: 10000 KIP (0.5 USD)
  • Swimming: Possible at the base.
  • Cliff jumping: No

Tad Lo Waterfall

Tad Lo Waterfall

At Tad Lo Waterfall, local kids gather after school. You can watch them gracefully cliff-jump from the top, pick mangoes from trees, and jump back into the water. The atmosphere is so enjoyable that you’ll lose track of time.

Near the waterfalls, there is a bamboo path crossing and guided steps leading to the waterfall’s head. There are also huts nearby where you can relax and enjoy the stunning scenery for hours. A family living in the huts also operates a shop.

  • Entry fee: Free
  • Parking: free
  • Swimming: Yes. Life jackets are available for an additional cost.
  • Cliff jumping: yes, at certain spots.

Tad Hang Waterfall

Tad Hang Waterfall

Tad Hang Waterfall is a large, multi-step waterfall that offers different views from various angles. Visitors can relax by the water at several shops and vacant huts nearby. The sound of the water masks any loud music nearby as you approach. The water is mostly shallow. The atmosphere is pleasant, and we spent several hours relaxing here. Don’t miss the adorable sunrise with the huts in the background at the top.

  • Entry fee: Free
  • Parking: free
  • Swimming: Yes
  • Cliff jumping: No

Fandee Island

Fandee Island is a small island accessible by boat. It is connected to the mainland by a bridge. The entire island is a property with accommodations and a restaurant. Surrounded by serene nature, the views are stunning. Stay in tents, cabins, tree houses, or bungalows by the river for a peaceful experience. Spend the night here for an amazing stay, or explore the property to soak in the ambiance. You can also enjoy adventure activities like ziplining.

Where to Stay?

 

We stayed at Samaki Guesthouse in Tad Lo. Fandee is our top choice. Mama Pap offers the most budget-friendly option in the area but the stay is very basic. If you have extra time, consider extending your trip to stay at Captain Hook (below).

Day 2 (Tad Lo – Sekong/ Dan, 92 Km/ 104 Km)

Throughout Day 2, you’ll encounter paved roads. It’s a shorter day compared to the first day and is a break from waterfall visits. Many houses are built on stilts with wood and bamboo. While long tractors pass by, you can take a scenic detour (explained below) to enjoy the second day of your journey. Locals always greet you with a welcoming smile, and the curious kids greet you with “sa bai dee” as they wave.

Mr. Hook Ethnic Village

Cassava grown in front of the houses

Captain Hook provides tours in English, taking you through the village and coffee plantations on a tractor and taking you on a short hike. He shares insights into the culture, traditions, and beliefs of the Katu ethnic community residing in the village. He is knowledgeable and friendly, welcomes all questions, and patiently provides answers. During the tour, you can roast coffee beans, watch the sunset, participate in cooking with a local family, and dine together. This authentic local experience might become a highlight of your Pakse Bolavan loop journey.

You can also volunteer for farming or teaching English. The accommodations are basic but clean. Samphone Homestay Guesthouse is nearby and offers similar tours.

  • Tour Timings: 9:30 AM and 1:30 PM
  • Tour Cost: 70000 KIP (3.5 USD). Also, note that an additional mandatory fee of 5000 KIP (0.25 USD) will be collected to enter the village.

Scenic Ride to Sekong

Scenic ride to Sekong

After reaching the Thateng roundabout, don’t miss the scenic detour. The first few kilometers are similar to what you had encountered, but the last 10 km to the highway offer breathtaking mountain views on both sides. The road is steep, with a gradient of about 14%. There are fewer hairpin bends, so be extra cautious if you have a passenger. Follow the low gear suggestions on signboards and stop at the viewpoint for photos. Enjoy the journey!

Where to Stay?

 

You can drive to Sekong or continue to Dan to find accommodation near Tad Faed waterfall. Properties in Sekong village are not available online. Our suggestion is Thepsawanh Guesthouse in Dan village.

Related: 13 things you should know about the Pakse Loop

Day 3 ( Sekong/ Dan – Paksong, 98 Km/ 86 Km)

Paved roads keep going from Sekong until here, then take a right to head up the mountain. Remember to top up your fuel tank since the next station is quite a ways off, around 50 km. Watch out for gravel on the road; drive slow and steady. Enjoy the scenic mountains for a bit. And keep an eye out for forest fires, especially during the dry months from March to May.

The road to all the waterfalls in this area is very bad. The unpaved dirt roads are full of mud and red sand. Drive at 10-20 km/hr due to the muddy and sandy terrain. Cover yourself up to avoid dust kicked up by passing vehicles. Follow the direction signs to find the waterfalls on Day 3. The ride becomes even more challenging during the monsoon season.

Explore the waterfalls as mentioned below. After Tad Koo, once you join the main road, the existing paved road is good until you reach Paksong.

Tad Faed Waterfall

Tad Faed Waterfall

The Xe Namnoy River creates the expansive Tad Faed waterfalls. You can’t miss the prominent sign on the main road directing you to the falls. During summer, there’s less water flowing over the rocks. Near the parking lot, there are huts for resting and shops for snacks. The large water body that looks like a lake, just after the waterfall, is the perfect spot to relax surrounded by nature.

  • Entry fee: Free
  • Parking: Free
  • Swimming: Not sure. We didn’t see anyone swimming here.
  • Cliff Jumping: No

Tad Hua Gan Waterfall

Tad Hua Gan Waterfall

Tad Hua Khon, also known as Tad Hua Gan Waterfall, is the upper part of Tad Faed Waterfall mentioned earlier. It is wider and more stunning, with both the top and bottom accessible. It’s a popular spot for local kids to camp, jump, and swim. There are also shaded areas near the base where you can enjoy the waterfall views.

Near the top of Tad Hua Gan Waterfall, there’s a shop. Huts by the stream offer a relaxing spot. It’s a 100-meter walk from the huts or shop to reach the top of the waterfall. For the base, follow the stone paths after reaching this spot and descending the steps.

  • Entry fee: Free
  • Parking: Free
  • Swimming: Yes
  • Cliff jumping: Yes, at certain spots.

Tad Tayicseua Waterfall

Tad Tayicseua Waterfall

Also called Tad Jarou Halang, Tad Tayicseua Waterfall is truly stunning. Whether you view it from afar or up close, it’s a sight not to be missed. Nestled amidst nature, the waterfall is surrounded on all sides. You can reach the base by climbing 350 man-made steps. Be cautious as you cross the water and climb closer. Take some time to appreciate the lush greenery and blooming flowers. Tad Tayicseua is one of our personal favorites.

A family living close by takes care of the surrounding areas of the waterfall. You can also find some drinks and quick snacks here.

  • Entry fee: 20000 KIP (1 USD)
  • Parking: Free
  • Swimming: No. However, the possibility of getting drenched is high when you get closer.
  • Cliff jumping: Not possible

Tad Koo Waterfall

Tad Koo Waterfall

The path from Tad Tayicseua to Tad Koo follows the same red sand path. The direction boards are in English. For additional navigation, refer to Google Maps or Maps.me.

Due to nearby developments, Tad Koo Waterfall has a more artificial feel. The restaurant has set up tables and chairs right before the waterfall, creating a picturesque scene but losing some authenticity. The large pool created by the waterfall is lovely to see from the resting huts. You might also spot monkeys in cages and hens, chicks, ducks, and butterflies nearby.

  • Entry fee: 10000 KIP (0.5 USD)
  • Parking: Free
  • Swimming: Yes, but the water is shallow, which is ideal for the kids to play in.
  • Cliff jumping: Not possible

Where to Stay?

 

Paksong, the closest town to Tad Koo, is 38 km away. It offers numerous accommodations and restaurants. We stayed at Kai Lions International Hostel and we recommend Sabaidee Valley and Paksong Brand New Two-story House as other options in Paksong.

Day 4 (Paksong – Pakse, 57 Km)

The journey from Paksong to Pakse is on a straight highway with mostly uninteresting views, except for the waterfalls you stop at. The highway has three lanes in each direction and is well-maintained. There are a couple of toll booths from Paksong to Pakse. No fee is collected for two-wheelers.

Tad Gneuang Waterfall

Tad Gneuang Waterfall

Tad Gneuang Waterfall, also known as Tad Yuang, is a scenic and well-visited waterfall. Enjoy the view from the top and then take the guided steps, about 200 of them, to reach the bottom. Feel and hear the powerful splash of water from a 40-meter height, even from a distance. For the best experience and to see rainbows, visit in the afternoon. At the entrance, you’ll find plenty of eateries and souvenir shops.

  • Entry Fee: 20000 KIP (1 USD)
  • Parking Fee: 5000 KIP for motorcycle (0.25 USD)
  • Swimming: Not Ideal
  • Cliff Jumping: Not Allowed

CPC Cafe @ Lak 40

coffee beans

Paksong, also known as the coffee capital of Laos, sits at an altitude of 1300 meters. Take a break from the waterfalls and enjoy some locally grown strawberries and fresh coffee. The Bolaven Plateau Coffee Producers Cooperative (CPC cafe) offers free coffee plantation tours to see various coffee seeds grown and dried for processing. Although it’s not a guided tour, you can still taste freshly brewed coffee at the cafe.

Tad Champee Waterfall

Tad Champee Waterfall, Pakse

With a large pool at the base, Tad Champee is the perfect waterfall for swimming. A short, easy hike and 50 steps will lead you to the base of the waterfall. Another cool feature is that you can go behind the waterfall. Non-swimmers can use the air tires available. A family-run shop, where you can buy drinks and quick snacks, is also responsible for collecting the entry fee.

  • Entry fee: 10000 KIP (0.5 USD)
  • Parking fee: 5000 KIP (0.25 USD) for motorcycle
  • Swimming: yes
  • Cliff jumping: Not possible due to shallow depth and stones near the cliff

Tad Fane Resort/ Waterfall

Tad Fane Waterfall, Pakse

Tad Fane Waterfall, the only one on the Pakse Bolaven Loop that can’t be touched, is unreachable at both the top and bottom. Plummeting from a height of 120 meters, you can only admire it from a distance at the resort. The waterfall is stunning during the monsoon season, with clouds drifting around. They offer zip-lining activities along four stretches to get a closer look at this beauty from different angles, making it one of the best places in Laos for ziplining. You’ll also find several souvenir shops and food stalls on the premises.

  • Entry fee: 20000 KIP (1 USD)
  • Parking fee: 5000 KIP (0.25 USD)
  • Ziplining length and details:
    • Zipline #1 length – 432m and height – 257 m
    • Zipline #2 length – 167 m and height – 57 m
    • Bridge walk – 163 m and height – 50 m
    • Zipline #3 length – 170 m and height 51 m
    • Trekking for 100 m
    • Zipline #4 length – 240 m and height 32 m
  • Ziplining Cost: 35 USD. You can also drink coffee while zipping on the line at 60 USD.

Related: 13 things you should know about the Pakse Loop

E-Tu Waterfall

E Tu waterfall

One of our favorites, the E-Tu waterfall, is often overlooked but truly charming. You can watch the local kids camping, fishing, and swimming and enjoy the nature around you. Yellow butterflies flutter, grass sways, and the waterfall reflects on the flowing water, creating a dreamy scene.

While reaching the top of the waterfall is possible, it’s a long detour mainly used by locals. To reach the base, you’ll need to descend 250 steps. There are no nearby restaurants or eateries, just an empty resort since Covid.

  • Entry fee: Free
  • Parking: Free. Lock your vehicles and park under the shade of the trees near the entrance.
  • Swimming: yes
  • Cliff jumping: No

Where to Stay?

 

Pakse offers a variety of accommodations, from hostels to luxury hotels, catering to different budgets and preferences. We stayed at Via Hostel Pakse. Our other recommendations include,

Pakse Small Loop Itinerary (3 Days/ 2 Nights)

For the Pakse Small Loop, Days 1, 2, and 4 follow the same itinerary as the Big Loop, skipping Day 3. After the scenic ride to Sekong, return to the same roundabout at Thateng and head towards Paksong. Then, as mentioned previously, continue with the Day 4 itinerary.

Pakse Two-Day Itinerary

For two days, follow the itinerary from Day 1 at the Big Loop and the waterfalls mentioned on Day 4. You can stay at Pakse.

Pakse One-Day Itinerary

If you’re pressed for time but still want to see some waterfalls, follow the Day 4 itinerary of the big loop. A round trip from Pakse to the Day 4 waterfalls is possible if you start early.

If you have any questions, comment below. We’ll do our best to answer them. Also, if you’ve found this blog helpful, comment below! And if you’re eager for more extensive hiking guides and travel tips, don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter and give us a follow on social media – find us on Instagram, Pinterest, and YouTube!

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