The Bolaven Plateau is the crown jewel of Southern Laos nature. Turned into an agricultural powerhouse during the colonial period, it was of vital strategic importance during the Indochina wars, and the on-going problems with unexploded ordnances reflect this. There’s still plenty of spectacular scenery here however, even if you have to stick to designated paths for safety reasons.
Amazing waterfalls are common the Bolaven.
Somewhat of an oddity in Laos, the population of the plateau is almost entirely animist rather than Buddhist, retaining their ancient traditions and way of life.
Bolaven is perhaps most known for its absolutely insane number of fantastic waterfalls. While there are far too many of them to mention here, notable stand-outs include Tat Fan and Tat Gneuang, where twin streams flow out of and into the jungle respectively. If your group wishes to escape the tourist crowds, head to Tat-E-Tu, or even better Tat Katamtok, for a thoroughly off-the-beaten-track experience.
Zip-lining is a good way to get the adrenaline flowing.
There are two notable national parks on the plateau, Dong Hua Sao and Dong Amphan. Dong Hua Sao has a stunning array of butterfly and hornbill species, however some planning is required as the only tours of the park depart from Pakse. Meanwhile, Dong Amphan was once the most pristine natural area in Laos, but has since suffered heavily from development and industry. Nonetheless, Nong Fa, or “Sky Blue Lake”, is still an amazing sight. The deep crater lake contains stunning blue waters, and the damage from human activity is hard to see here. The park is also home to wild tigers and elephants, but sightings of these are incredibly rare.
Bolaven offers views that are almost unmatched in the rest of Laos.
While not pure nature, the plateau is also famous for its coffee plantations, and visiting one of these and even staying the night in one is a great authentic look at Bolaven.
Bolaven is undoubtedly the premier trekking location in Laos outside of its Northern Region, and any trekking-package to the plateau will have plenty of options for activities and tours.