If you’re heading down to Attapeu anyway (or even if you’re not), there are some waterfalls to seek out on the way.
The first is Tad Hia, but this one is hardly worth a detour. This small set of falls is nothing more than a fast flowing, rocky part of the river, but the trip out is fairly scenic. To get there, you’ll need your own transport or hire a songthaew from town. Travel south from Sekong on route 16 for just over three kilometres and you’ll reach a school on your right. Turn right immediately after it, and follow the dirt road for about two kilometres and the falls will be on your right down a short and narrow foot-trail. If you reach a metal gate, you have gone too far by about 50 metres.
The second is Tad Faek — as you head south, there’s a well-marked turn-off at Km14 on the left across the road from the petrol station. It’s a pretty waterfall, about five metres high with plenty of opportunity for swimming. The locals even jump from the falls into the pool below, but they’re probably familiar with where the safe places are and aren’t – not advised! We found the water to be a little dirty during our most recent visit, but with a deluge of rain it should be flushed clean again. Cost of parking a motorbike is 5,000 kip, but the falls may only be staffed on weekends and holidays.
Around 16 kilometres to the south of Sekong, on the Attapeu side of the Tay-un River, is Tad Hua Khon. A signposted track runs off to the east immediately after the end of the long bridge. Follow the track for a couple of hundred metres and you’ll reach a cluster of huts favoured by picnicking locals. Depending on the water level, you may need to walk out a fair way across the boulders to see the falls, which though may be just 10 metres high, are at least 100 metres wide. You can swim here if you don’t want to pay the entry to Tad Faek or if it’s too crowded there. These falls are worth a look if you are in the area, but are not worth getting off a bus to experience.
Located in Attapeu province, simply stunning Tad Katamtok is easily the most spectacular waterfall in this part of Laos, and at more than 100 metres in height, is absolutely breathtaking. The viewpoint sits across the valley from the waterfall and gives an unobstructed view of the entire length of the drop. It’s well worth the effort to reach, though you will either need your own transport or to hire a motorcycle from the route 16 junction with the dirt road leading to Paksong. Public transport is not an option at this time. Travel in from route 16 for just over 16 kilometres and you’ll pass a very small trail running back off to your left. You can see the falls if you follow the trail for just 25 metres and you’ll hear the roar. The waterfall is signposted and fairly difficult to miss. About two kilometres before the main waterfall, another, equally spectacular waterfall can be seen far off to the right. The falls are even great in the dry season.
Tad Alang is further down the road from Tad Katamtok, about 27 kilometres from the turn off along a difficult dusty road. It’s an incredible waterfall which is overlooked by many, but is beginning to gain some traction eight years after a small homestay was built nearby. The eco-lodge, as it is called, has accommodation in small grass huts available for 30,000 kip per night per person which is a bit on the pricey side, but the experience is one you will never forget.
Electricity is generated from the nearby waterfall meaning that at night there is at least a flicker of light. Meals consist mainly of rice and vegetable soup. In the immediate area are a large number of waterfalls other than Tad Alang and it’s possible to visit most of them on a guided tour or if you’re really adventurous, on your own. Even if you don’t want to stay in the eco-lodge, Tad Alang itself is worth checking out as the viewpoint at the bottom is like a mini garden of Eden due to the perpetual water spray. If you’re into rustic experiences and want to feel a deeper connection to Laos, this place should be high on your list of places to stay.
By Adam Poskitt
Last updated on 3rd August, 2015.