Friday, 11 April 2014


Motorbike Ride in Bolaven Plateau, Laos

One of my favourite experiences traveling so far was renting motorbikes and biking around the Bolaven plateau. 

We rented our bikes from an awesome Belgian guy at Ms Noy's. If you're thinking of doing the loop, definitely check these guys out! 

They give you an awesome hand-drawn map of the area, give you an in-depth explanation of all the highlights to see and stay, and even gave me a little bike-riding tutorial :) 

Day 1

We set out in a southern direction on the loop. My recommendation would be to hit up Tad (waterfall) Yuang, which has a coffee and tea plantation near the main road that gives free tours and even let's you taste the different types of tea that they make in the cooperative (yellow, black, green and yellow - my personal fave). 

I would then try to make it to Nong Oy, where there's one guesthouse called Platinum, or all the way to Tad Taticsua, where you can stay in cute little bungalows on top of the waterfall. If you choose the later, make sure you get there before 5 since everything closes then. 

We took it real slow out first day and stopped at Tad Fan, Tad Champi and Tad Yuang. 

Tad Fan

Tad Champi 

Tad Yuang

We had an awesome tour of the coffee plantation and then only made it to Paksong. 

There are a couple of guest houses there, and we ended up staying at the cheapest one - only 20,000 kip per double room ($3.50). It def wasn't the cleanest, but what do you expect when you're paying less than $2 a night, amiright?!

We went for dinner at what we thought was a Lao restaurant, but quickly realized everyone was Vietnamese when they didn't respond to our basic Lao vocab. 

Turns out there is a large Vietnamese community in the Bolaven plateau since it is so close to the Vietnamese border. 

Day 2 

My suggestion for the second day would be to stay at Tad Faek in an awesome guest house for only 50,000 kip ($5 for two people) on top of the waterfall. 

Again, everything closes at around 5pm so make sure that you get there early! 

We set out from Paksong and went straight to Tad Tayuscua, which is the largest (and supposedly the most beautiful) waterfall on the loop. 

It is a crazy dirt road - essentially just a logging road - for about 5km. 

They were doing a bunch of construction in anticipation of the Lao new year coming up. Awesome bungalows with a great view! 

After leaving, when we were on the main dirt road, I felt like I had a branch stuck in my wheel and completely lost control of my bike and crashed. Turns out I had a flat tire. Womp womp. 

We were in the middle of nowhere so we decided to lock my bike to a tree and go to the next village in hopes of finding someone to help us. 

A German couple happened to pass by us at this point and told us later that they couldn't figure out who had crashed since we were all covered in dirt and already had scrapes. 'It looked like a biking massacre'. Too funny. 

Anywho, we went to the next village - only about 10 wooden stilted houses - and thankfully had a phrase book so we could point to 'I have flat tire' and 'I need a mechanic'. 

There were about a dozen women and men sitting around, the women rolling rice into banana leaves, and a gaggle of children. By the time we left, the whole village was out and we had been offered Laolao whiskey out of a big earthen pot with long bamboo straws. We politely declined their 'nam' aka water. 

It took about an hour and a half, but I eventually convinced a guy to come fix my tire. He did a great job! 

We then set out for Tad Faek along the craziest road thus far. Part of the road is under construction, so it was very slow (and disgustingly hot and dusty). 

We were starving and desperate for a swim by the time we made it to Tad Faek at around 4pm. 

After some beef laab and sticky rice, a dip in the waterfall and an impromptu communal bathing session with some local girls there - they gave us some shampoo and instructions on how to do it properly.

'You need more water! Lather!' - we decided to rent a bungalow overlooking the falls. 

The restaurant closed at around 6pm when all the visitors left, so we scrounged some snacks at a shack shop down the road and ate under the one working light outside. Awesome night! 

Day 3 

For the third day, I would suggest stopping by the Sinouk Garden Villa to get some amazing coffee and wander through the amazing gardens. It will cost you about $4, but it is worth the real caffeine buzz ;)

Head on to Tad Lo waterfall and stay at Mama Pap's - only $1.25 for a mattress upstairs - who also serves the largest portions for super cheap. Amazing lady! 

This was the one day that we actually stuck to our planned itinerary, although we were a bit confused when we arrived to Tad Lo and asked for directions to Mama Pap's and a local lady told us 'No! Mama Pap's is in Pakse!' 

We eventually realized we were in the right place, and actually saw the same lady drinking at Mama Pap's later that evening. 

'I tricked you! Hahaha'. Tricky, tricky. 

Day 4 

By the last day, we were reserved to the general noodle soup for breakfast. 

A great way to start the day!

We were ready to get off the bikes by the last day and headed straight to Pakse in the morning, stopping for pics along the way, obvi. 

It was amazing how big Pakse looked after being in the more rural areas for a couple of days. 

Overall, I would definitely recommend doing this route. You can do the smaller loop in a day or two, but give yourself three or four (or six!) days for the larger loop. 

One of my highlights of my time in Laos!

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