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Trip Report: Motorcycling the Bolaven Plateau

Posted by misplcednotlost on 12/11/2011 at 07:11

Well, the internet sucks here in Pakse (lol) and I just finished writing a trip report before it shut down on me. Here is the second, but way shorter version. (Probably better this way.... haha)

1.. Tad Lo should NOT be missed. Was an incredible place with beautiful views and a variety of accomadation options. You can take the bus here but so much more fun driving yourself there on a motorbike or motorcycle. The ride took about 90 mins, and was paved the whole way. If you do make the journey and you see the sign for the base of Tad Suang Waterfall, pull over and do it. You have local kids as guides, and they take you to a spectacular swimming hole, and you get some AMAZING views. 5,000LAK to park your bike, and of course we tipped our guides, as they were wonderful and spent 3 hours with us hanging out and showing us the way. (To get all the way to the base of the falls you have to climb, hop and lumber through about 400-500m of boulders, and its not for everyone.)


2. Basically want to give a road report on the 70km road that starts halfway between Sekong and Attapeu and leads to Paksong. It is REALLY ROUGH. It is a dirt road and bumpy, and be prepared to get wet and muddy. The worst is the first 20 or so KM, but it doesn't get much better the rest of the way. There is some construction going on it seems, and it'll probably be paved soon, but since we were on real motorcycles it was a TON of fun. This was my favorite section of road to ride, and probably some of the most amazing views i've ever seen. Plus its the road to Katemtok waterfall, which is HUGE and breathtaking. (its biggest one I believe..) We have talked to quite a few people who have done it on scooters, and it is possible, but probably not as fun as we had.

Would also like to note that we rented from Lankham Hotel, and would have to agree with every review I've read of them... They are the place to rent from in Pakse. I slid out once and broke the front fender and they didn't even charge to fix it. They were incredibly helpful, very friendly and overall great to do business with.

Had such a wonderful trip just wanted to share and encourage any of those thinking of doing it. It was definitely the best experience I've had here in SEA and one I would recommend to everyone.

(Yeah and this was the short version, lol)

#1 misplcednotlost has been a member since 17/10/2011. Location: United States. Posts: 19
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Posted by altmtl on 12/11/2011 at 12:36

Thanks :)

#2 altmtl has been a member since 18/5/2009. Location: Canada. Posts: 1,003
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Posted by qualitywork1 on 13/11/2011 at 00:57

thanks for the report misplacesnotlost. i will be doing similar in 4 weeks time. is there anything that you didnt do that you wished you had ? Is 5 days enough time ? thanks james

#3 qualitywork1 has been a member since 19/9/2011. Posts: 13

Posted by misplcednotlost on 13/11/2011 at 07:44

5 days is definitely enough time, but if I would've changed anything, I probably would go to Tad Lo by bus so I could stay there for a few extra days... then go back to Pakse and rent bikes to do the loop. Its such a great little area and I could've easily spent 4-5 days there itself. There are a few different waterfalls, some trekking if you like to do that, and we did the elephant ride from Tad Lo Lodge which was also a great experience. (missed that in Thailand..) In a few weeks it'll probably be dried up more on that 70km road but still pretty bumpy and rough in the dry spots. The one thing I wanted to add about that was if you are doing scooters I definitely would do 1 scooter for each person... there are some pretty big hills to get up. The views are incredible on that road though, and some beautiful waterfalls. The one thing I wish we would've done was stop and stay at this homestay hidden back on that dirt road. Its probably about half way through the road and its back 2000m on rough path but they have a trekking package where you see "hundreds of waterfalls." You see a big sign for a waterfall, but doesn't really show much about the homestay, so if you have an extra night, I'd do it there. It was a really nice little place, but we were already over time on when we told them we were thinking of returning.

Again gotta stress how wonderful it was to do business with Lankham hotel.... very helpful, a variety of bikes ( I was on a Honda FTR 223, and bf was on a 250cc dirtbike, both rented at 230,000Kip, but scooters available for 70,000Kip) And a bonus is they have a locked storage room where you can leave you packs. We left ours and just took day packs and also made the trip a lot easier and more enjoyable.

Hope this helps. :)

#4 misplcednotlost has been a member since 17/10/2011. Location: United States. Posts: 19
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Posted by 9preciousGems on 14/11/2011 at 07:03

Wow great report. Sounds like a lot of fun. So did the bikes cost 230,000LAK for the whole duration?
also any pics?

#5 9preciousGems has been a member since 13/1/2011. Posts: 82

Posted by misplcednotlost on 14/11/2011 at 20:51

Well we rented the big motorcycles (I was on a Honda FTR 223, and my bf was on a Kawasaki 250cc dirt bike,) and so they were 230,000LAK each day, for each bike. Lankhame hotel also has 110cc scooters they rent for 70,000K a day, which can get you through the whole trip, but the 70km road I was talking about is difficult and bumpy, and will be slow going. If you only have a few days to spare, DEFINITELY check out Tad Lo, its a beautiful area, can do some treking, visit a few different waterfalls, there is an elephant ride, and you can ride scooters there no problem as its paved the whole way.

Unfortunately the ones of the dirt road didnt post up, but will try again later, (perhaps with better internet connection.)

#6 misplcednotlost has been a member since 17/10/2011. Location: United States. Posts: 19
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Posted by 9preciousGems on 15/11/2011 at 02:50

great one. Im now following you on flickr. Look forward to more

#7 9preciousGems has been a member since 13/1/2011. Posts: 82

Posted by misplcednotlost on 15/11/2011 at 03:15

Will be leaving for Phnom Penh in the morning, so will be uploading more pics from there tomorrow. Been in the 4,000 island area for a few days and its amazing here as well! Beautiful weather, variety of guest house options (most with hammocks on the river) and got to see the Irawaddy dolphins this morning!!! Will let you know when more pics go up.

#8 misplcednotlost has been a member since 17/10/2011. Location: United States. Posts: 19
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Posted by caseyprich on 15/11/2011 at 08:01

We took the 120cc semi-auto bikes and had no trouble with the dirt road during the dry weeks of late January and early February. Had plenty of power to get around hills and bumps - though it was a little sketchy at a big stretch of the construction then very sandy.
Also stayed three nights in the Tad Lo area but don't like to back-track and was happy to have the bike there to get around to waterfalls in the area and take a lot of side roads during the day. That way you can go check out Salavan for the day and return to Tad Lo for the evening as well - it'll save you some time from going back to Pakse too.

And Lankham gets our vote as well. Really nice staff.

#9 caseyprich has been a member since 3/3/2010. Location: China. Posts: 1,281
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Posted by misplcednotlost on 16/11/2011 at 21:42

Posted a few more pictures at which show the road conditions. Its still raining on and off a little... so I imagine it'll be like this for at least another month. Just wanted to give an update on the current road conditions. I'm sure by Jan/Feb it'll have dried up and will just be another bumpy dirt road to venture through.

Its a great loop to do if you have a few days to dedicate. Even the small loop if all you have is 2 days/1 night.

#10 misplcednotlost has been a member since 17/10/2011. Location: United States. Posts: 19
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Posted by cbg0927 on 17/3/2014 at 00:04

Just wanted to add to this a little. I just finished the loop yesterday, I did it in 4 days, though could definitely have spent closer to a week on it. I'd highly suggest doing it clockwise if you're starting in Pakse. I rented a bike at Miss Noy's in Pakse, 50,000 kip/day if you rent for 3+ days. One of the employees also sits down with you the previous night and goes over a nice detailed map of the loop with you. I snapped a picture of the map here. This was super helpful on the loop:

A fall that I would absolutely NOT miss: Tad Sou Lin. Its at about the farthest point on the loop from Pakse, and is so so worth the effort to get there. See here

#11 cbg0927 has been a member since 30/7/2013. Location: United States. Posts: 62
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Posted by LeonardCohen1 on 17/3/2014 at 04:19

Looks cool. Is it possible to hire a car in pakse?

#12 LeonardCohen1 has been a member since 24/7/2012. Posts: 2,148
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