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  • Writer's pictureDonna Kitchen

Final Day - Bolaven Plateau Loop

It’s been quite an adventurous undertaking, this motorbike loop solo, with no guide.  We are finding the journey a challenge with all that has happened, especially the flat tyre yesterday.  The heat has also been wearing on us.  At times we’ve felt like we’re on a secret filming of Survivor TV show.

The Bolaven Plateau Map

Today should be easy(ier) with a mere 30kms as we return to Pakse, our starting point.   

Apparently this is to be the best day as we will visit the most stunning waterfalls on the loop.  Four in fact!

  • Tad Champi

  • Tad E Tu

  • Tad Yuang

  • Tad Fane

(There are various spellings for all 4 of these waterfalls)

We had a slight sleep in today, I think we deserved it.  We then head off, following google map’s instructions to find the turn off to Tad Champee. Another Google maps fail!  The spot that was marked as the turn off did not exist.  Backtracking we eventually found the correct spot, another rough track.  It was very rutted with deep worn tracks making it very (unstable) to ride on. In addition, there had been some rain overnight creating mud puddles to either avoid or ride through.

Turn of to Tad Champee

Within the first 10 metres I saw a little boy and mother and doing my best to avoid them and with very little options as to where to move forward, I slowed the motorbike too much on a high rut and I lost my balance.  Falling of my motorbike but luckily only a few scrapes on my knee and elbow and a few mud splashes. I picked up the bike, dusted myself off and caught up to Kevin who had already turned around to see where I was.

Entrance to parking area of Tad Champee

Assuring him I was ok, we continued on the bumpy 2km road arriving at the parking area for Champee Falls.  It was a very picturesque drive through the green coffee plantations.  We paid 20,000kip each entrance, including the motorbike.

We were becoming accustomed to descending and ascending steps of varying quality now.  These ones were in relatively good condition but we always take our time as they can be uneven and slippery.  I especially love when we approach the waterfall, you can hear the water flowing but as this point you can not see the water. Finally reaching the bottom of the valley we are rewarded by a tranquil place were we could have a swim and enjoy the surrounding nature.

Tad Champee swimming hole

I was the only one wanting to swim but as the water was icey cold, it did take me a few minutes to slowly immerse my full body.   I carefully swam towards to waterfall by swimming one handed, GoPro in the other, while keeping myself afloat in the natural water.   The closer I got, the more difficult it became due to the water current pushing me back from the waterfall.  Feeling a bit tired from swimming, I thought it safer to not go any further.  I returned to the bank, trying to convince Kevin to join me.  It was a no go for him.

Tad Champee

Sitting and enjoying the tranquility for a while we returned to the top, resting in the cafe for a cold drink. (Too early for beer, only a soda water).

Time to hunt down the second waterfall which is not always easy, with poor signage and even worse google markings.  I’m most cases, if lost, we found showing a local, a picture of what we were looking for worked.  This time we showed some young kids and they pointed us in the right direction.

Another bumpy, gravelly road and a 20,000kip

entrance fee each we safely parked our bike.  Tad Yuang was definitely on the tourist map with heaps of sellers and a few restaurants.

Tad Yuang

This waterfall was magnificent at 40m high with torrents of water flowing into a huge pool below. The climb down was a bit treacherous and steep with slippery stone steps of various heights making the descent and ascent very challenging.

Again, it was worth the pain.  A common saying of ours now is ‘no pain, no view’.   

Sending Kevin down first, at this stage not knowing what the view would be, then he was to tell me after a bit if it was worth the pain.  It absolutely was.   The power that is created by the waterfall is phenomenal as it creates an updraft of wind and spray around the base.  Even without swimming, we were wet.

Looking down Tad Yuang

At the top of the waterfall there were many local families enjoying the lovely little picnic spots, relaxing and the kids frolicking in the water.  Really can’t say they were swimming - very few know how to swim.

As it was now 1pm we felt we had earned a cold beverage and lunch.  The lovely owner of the restaurant introduced himself to us giving a brief history on how he started this restaurant.  We were blown away by the fact that he was 86 years old.  He was planning to make it to 100 he told us. Due to health, living conditions in Laos it is very unusual to reach your 80’s.

Tad Yuang market area

It was now after 2pm and we still had over an hours motorbike ride back to Pakse. Unfortunately this meant that we didn’t have time to see the other 2 waterfalls.  We couldn't imagine the others being any more stunning than this last one, so we weren’t too disappointed.

As we came out of the mountains, the temperature started to increase and the roads got dusty again.  We were grateful to finally pull into Le Jardin Hotel and check in for the night.  After a quick swim and cold beer we returned the motorbikes to Miss Noy’s, reclaiming our passport and recalling some of our stories to the Belgium owner, Yves.

Looking quite goofy after dropping motorbikes back to Miss Noy's.

Rewarding ourselves with a dinner at the rooftop restaurant at the Pakse Hotel we debriefed the last 4days.

We found the 4 day/3night trip too long and a bit repetitive, especially day 3.  Maybe after the wet season when the surrounding countryside was lusher and the fields were rich with crops, it may be different.

This trip can be ridden in a shorter time by cutting out a big section.  If we were to do it again, we would travel the shorter distance but take 2nights/3days.  This way you’d be able to see all 4 waterfalls on day 2 & 3 and the Tad Lo area on day 1.  This is only our opinion according to our style of travelling and our interests.

Planning our next adventure as I relax in the pool in Pakse.

We are very proud of ourselves for accepting this challenge and overcoming the obstacles along the way.  We absolutely pushed our limits and achieved more than we ever thought we could.

Go us! The Not So Grey Travellers


Kevin & Donna

Earlier waterfalls lost to the jungle over COVID.

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Jun 07, 2023
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

Unbelievable! I would have to know why the captain left you bobbing down the river??? So bizarre!!!


May 31, 2023
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

Well done you two, what a trip. Just loved it and enjoyed every written minute 💕


May 29, 2023
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

Good effort Donna and Kevin. I need a beer just reading about it!! Nick

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