South East Asia, Travel diary

discovering Lao with a scooter – Thakhek and bolaven loops

thakhek and bolaven plateau loop with a scooter - lao - dancer with a backpack

Hello again, long time no see! I have to admit I have been lazy about writing blog article! I have a full day before flying to my next destination, so let’s talk about Lao. I spent 30 days in this country, half with my parents in the north and another half in the south with an amazing travel mate (hey Angelica!). I really like Lao, it was a very calm and peaceful trip. In the south, I’ve done 2 loops with a scooter to discover the backcountry in the south, the Thakhek and the Bolaven plateau loop.

 

the Thakhek loop

 

This loop is usually done in 4 days/ 3 nights and start in Thakhek.  This city has no interest except being the start of the loop. In this loop, you can do several stops to visit caves and blue lagoons. We stopped at 2 caves, Xian Liang and Konglor caves.

The first one is the “Harry Potter” cave (you know why I needed to visit it now), meaning it looks a lot like the cave where Harry and Dumbledore find the fake Horcrux. You need to go down in the cave to see the resemblance.

Konglor cave is the biggest cave I have ever seen. You take a boat for 30 minutes to join the 2 exits. You make a quick stop to walk in the cave and enjoy the architecture of it.

Except for the cave, this loop has an amazing landscape with dead trees in the lake and black limestone mountain. We didn’t have the opportunity to visit the Cool Spring because one of our scooter brakes and we spend the afternoon at the mechanic to fix it…

 

Where to sleep? In Thakhek, Thakhek Travel lodge is really nice and has a book with reviews about the loop from other travelers.
We paid 60 000Kip the night for 2 people in every place that we stayed.
First night, in Phosy Thalang, nice bungalow. 2nd night Enjoy boy next to Konglor cave. 3rd night, Khamphone Keokhamphan Guesthouse, a bit creepy but we didn’t have a lot of choices…

Where rent a scooter? We rented to the rental next to our hostel, Pokemon rental, for 60 000Kip a day. One of the scooters broke but they give us the money back so I still recommend

 

Bolaven plateau loop

 

I almost didn’t do this loop, I spend one week in a hammock on the 4000 islands, so I only had 2 days on my visa left… But some people highly recommend me to spend one night in Captain Hook village. So, I rented a scooter in Pakse for 2 days to quickly do the Bolaven plateau loop. If the previous loop is all about caves, this one is more about waterfalls and coffee.

My first stop was on the coffee plantation of Mr. Vieng. You can enjoy a very nice cup of coffee and do a visit of the plantation. Even if it wasn’t the best season, it was really interested to learn more about it, I drink several coffees a day but I really knew nothing about it.

I spend the night has planed at Captain Hook Homestay in Koh Poung Tai. This village is animist, meaning they believe in the spirits. Captain Hook learn English and propose a visit of his village and the plantation. 4 hours with a lot of information about coffee, plants and the tradition of his village, you can really feel his passion. I don’t want to spoil anything, but I really recommend the experience. After the visit, you can also stay at the homestay. A really nice moment, we spend the evening talking with the teenagers and chasing crickets (yes you read me right).

On my way back, I stop at Tad Yuang waterfall. This waterfall is really beautiful, the picture will talk by itself. Many people said that it is the best one, so I only stop in this one.

You can also do this in 4 days and go a bit further. If you want to do only 2 days, you need to stay on the main road that is not really beautiful but the stops make it definitely worth it.

 

Where to sleep? Captain Hook homestay is the place to go, 50 000Kip the night dinner and breakfast included. This place is pretty famous, it is better to book in advance at the high season.
The visit of village happens twice a day (9am and 1pm) and cost 25 000Kip
In Pakse, I stayed at You Empire hostel, it is brand new. Just don’t use the travel agency service, it is quite expensive compared to the other places in town (night around 50 000Kip the night)

Where rent a scooter? I rented my scooter to the agency next to the famous Miss Noy for 40 000Kip a day.

 

thakhek and bolaven plateau loop with a scooter - lao - dancer with a backpack thakhek and bolaven plateau loop with a scooter - lao - dancer with a backpack

thakhek and bolaven plateau loop with a scooter - lao - dancer with a backpack

Konglor Cave boat

thakhek and bolaven plateau loop with a scooter - lao - dancer with a backpack

Konglor cave

thakhek and bolaven plateau loop with a scooter - lao - dancer with a backpack thakhek and bolaven plateau loop with a scooter - lao - dancer with a backpack

thakhek and bolaven plateau loop with a scooter - lao - dancer with a backpack

“Harry Potter” Cave

thakhek and bolaven plateau loop with a scooter - lao - dancer with a backpack

Sunset at Captain Hook Homestay

thakhek and bolaven plateau loop with a scooter - lao - dancer with a backpack

Tad Yuang waterfall

thakhek and bolaven plateau loop with a scooter - lao - dancer with a backpack

Nice evening in good company at Captain Hook Homestay

thakhek and bolaven plateau loop with a scooter - lao - dancer with a backpack

the desert, crickets