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Report: Bolaven culture, nature, and hiking without guide

Posted by TheWilds on 9/5/2016 at 10:04

Hello fellow travelers!

We are two outdoorsy people with about six months of traveling behind us and we just spent six days motor biking around the Bolaven plateau. We discovered a few great places along the way that we wished we'd known about sooner, so we thought we'd share.
You do not need six days, but two may not be enough if your goals include hiking and spending some time with locals like ours did.
Note: the prices are what we paid and may change for many reasons.

TAD TAYICSEUA (44km east of Paksong, off the dirt road, not the new paved portion)
Great for: hiking, exploring without a guide, waterfalls
Price: 5,000 kip entrance; 5,000 kip for motor bike; 80,000 overnight in tent, with shared bath.
This guest house and privately-owned nature preserve is run by a very sweet Lao woman, Nitaya (spelling?!), who grew up in the United States. She prefers quality over quantity in her guests, so she charges a little more for overnighting at her place, but it's worth it if you want to get out into nature. She won't give you a map, but you don't need it to enjoy the miles of well-maintained trails leading to various waterfalls. If we'd known about it sooner, we would have spent at least two nights exploring and getting to know our personable host.

MYSTIC MOUNTAIN COFFEE (12km north of Paksong on a very rough dirt road)
Great for: spending a few nights at a true homestay or a tent site far from other tourists; learning about growing, roasting and drinking coffee; taking guided tours of the village and jungle on foot or with a cool old jeep; just enjoying nature and going on walks through the villages
Price: 50,000 kip for homestay or tent; breakfast 20,000; lunch/dinner 25,000; tours and coffee demonstration prices vary
Khamsone has been growing and roasting coffee for over 20 years. After years of being a tour guide, he has decided to put his skills together by hosting a small number of guests on his property and offering a variety of opportunities to experience local culture, nature, cuisine and, of course, coffee. We extended our trip to spend time at his plantation and it was the best decision of our trip. We ended up invited to a wedding, we enjoyed his wife's amazing cooking, we had a rainy adventure in his jeep, and we learned a ton about the local coffee, people, houses, etc.
If you are afraid of bugs, cold bucket showers, or a 15 minute hike through a coffee plantation for breakfast, his place might not be for you. For us, it was the highlight of our trip.
Contact: www.MysticMountain.coffee (that's right, NOT .com)

I hope some of you get to enjoy these places the way we wish we'd had time to!

#1 TheWilds has been a member since 8/5/2016. Posts: 1

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