Laos Highlight

Laos Highlight

Discover Southern Province - Discover Southern Province - Discover Southern Province - Discover Southern

A southeastern province situated on the Bolaven Plateau is devoted to agriculture and nature offering idyllic scenery. A prehistoric site exists not far from the cascades where a wonderful scene can be seen. Salavanh Province is home to the Phou Xieng Thong National Biodiversity Conservation Area, covering nearly 1,000 sq km in the western part of the province next to the Mekong River. It is thought that Asiatic black bear, banteng, clouded leopard, Douc langur, elephant, gibbon, guar, Siamese crocodile and tiger and inhabit this area. Within a cave huge stone caskets are piled one on top of the other, province not only beauty but interesting thoughts as to how it originated. Salavanh has vast tracts of forest and is home to three National Protected Areas that harbor a wealth of biodiversity. Xe Xap, (1,335 km2) Xe Bang Nouane (1,970 km2) and Phou Xieng Thong (1,200 km2) lie mostly within Salavanh’s borders, have a range of habitats and micro-climates and are home to a diverse population of ethnic minority groups. The Mekong River separates Salavanh from Thailand and the province also shares a border with Vietnam to the east. The main geologic features are the Bolaven Plateau, Mekong River Valley and Southern Annamite Mountains, which rise to over 2,000 meters in the eastern portion of the province. Most visitors access Salavan by route 20 from Pakse, stopping in Ban Houn, a roadside village that produces fine weavings and basketry. Tad Lo, the best known attraction in the province is a wide, multi-tiered waterfall surrounded by lush greenery and a number of well-planned resorts and guest houses. At Tad Lo you can rent a bicycle, enjoy nature walks and venture out to surrounding villages on the Bolaven Plateau. Tad Lo sits in the center of a major coffee and vegetable growing region, so there is usually a variety of fresh seasonal produce on the menu. East of Tad Lo and the provincial capital are Ta-Oy and Samouay Districts, populated mostly by Mon-Khemer speaking ethnic groups. Here you can see traditional long houses that may house up to 45 people.  A nice outing in Ta-Oy is a trip on the Xe Lanong to watch birds and walk to the La Lao Waterfall. Criss crossing the eastern half of the province is the famous Ho Chi Minh Trail network, still in use today as a link between remote villages. Along the trail you can see extensive evidence of the heavy aerial bombardment this part of the country suffered during the Second Indochina War.

Sekong Province is one of the least explored provinces in Laos due to the rugged landscape and mountainous terrain that rises to the Dacheung Plateau. With 14 distinct ethnic groups belonging to the Mon-Khmer linguistic family this sparsely populated province is probably the most ethnically diverse in southern Laos. The Katu and Talieng are the largest ethnic groups in the province and are noted for their unique religious practices that mix animism and ancestor worship. The Sekong River, which bisects the province flowing south into Cambodia is ideal for river trips. Local boatmen hire long-tail boats for scenic river journeys that follow the edge of the Bolaven Plateau down to Attapeu Province.  Occasionally, freshwater dolphins migrate up the Sekong right up to Sekong Town. The province is dotted with many cascading waterfalls. Tad Hia, Tad Faek and Tad Se Noi (or Tad Hua Khon) waterfalls are the most convenient to visit from town and offer opportunities for swimming, trekking and village visits. Another waterfall not to be missed is the Nam Tok Katamtok, which originates from the Huay Katam River deep in the jungles of the Bolaven Plateau. Xe Xap National Protected Area, which covers an area of 1,335 km2 straddling Sekong and Salavanh provinces includes part of the southern Annamite Mountains and is mostly steep terrain with high plateaus of about 1.400m. On the eastern and southern sides of Xe Xap steep faces rise from 400m to 1.400m, topped by Dong Be at 2.066m. The protected area’s habitat of hill evergreen, semi-evergreen and pine forests support large mammal species including two types of bear, gaur, dhole, serow, large antlered muntjac and tigers.

Champasack lies to the Southwest in Laos. The capital city is Pakse, located at the confluence of the Mekong and the Sedon rivers. Southeast Asia's biggest waterfall, Khone Phapheng, is within easy reach by boat or by road. This is one of the main political and economic centers of Lao PDR. The people of Champasack Province settle along the bank of Kong Se Done river. In this province you will find ancient temples which were influenced from the Angkor people who settled in Cambodia. There are many different minorities in Champasack whom have their own language, culture and lifestyles. The distance from Vientiane to Pakse, the provincial capital of Champasack is 610 kilometers by Route 13 (south) via the provinces of Bolikhamxay, Khammouane, Savannakhet and Salavanh. Champasack Province is known for its relaxed pace of life, warm hospitality and rich cultural, historic and natural heritage. The province has been ruled by various kingdoms through the ages, and today there are many archaeological remains scattered throughout the province. To the south of Pakse, the provincial capital is the Wat Phou Temple Complex, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Attractions also include the Ancient City, historic colonial buildings, and Done Daeng Island, known for its traditional livelihoods and forested trails. In the southern region of the province is Done Khong and the Four Thousand Islands, or Si Phan Done in Lao. On this stretch of the Mekong is the largest waterfall by volume in Southeast Asia, Khone Phapheng, as well as Li Phi waterfall noted for its cascading emerald green waters. The endangered freshwater Irrawaddy Dolphins inhabit the Mekong near the Lao-Cambodian border and can be observed from locally chartered boats. The Xe Pian National Protected Area covers 2,400 km2 in the province’s southeastern region and is rich in biodiversity of global significance. Xe Pian’s dry deciduous forest and wetlands are home to Tigers, Asiatic Elephant, White-cheeked Gibbons, Green Peafowl and the Giant Ibis. Established ecotourism opportunities include elephant riding, bird watching, trekking and village home-stays. In the northeastern region of the province, rising over 1,500m above sea level, are the rich volcanic soils and cool climate of the Bolaven Plateau. This area produces some of the finest Arabica coffees in the world, which can be purchased directly from the local growers. The breathtaking Tad Fane Waterfall located on the edge of Dong Houa Sao National Protected Area cascades over 100 m off the plateau. In Bachieng Chaleunsouk district the picturesque Pa Suam falls are easily reached by road from Pakse.

Attapeu is the southern most province in Laos and shares a border with Sekong in the North, Champasack in the West, Vietnam in the East and Cambodia in the South. The Bolaven Plateau is located in the Champasack Province and easily accessed from Pakse. Attapeu is where one can find many minority peoples. Nine major tribes are in Attapeu: Alak, Katang, Kaleum, Katou, Suay, Nge, Lave, Tahoy, Nyajeung. The capital town, samakkhixay is built in a large picturesque valley surrounded by mountains and the loop upstream. Attapeu Province is rugged, wild and very scenic. Parts of the Ho Chi Minh Trail can be explored from Attapeu, although using a local guide is essential. In the early morning you can visit the traditional market, where many different minorities go to buy and sell their products. It has a rich history dating back to the Lane Xang Kingdom in the 16th century, as evidenced by the ancient stupa That Saysetthathirath, which local people believe to house the remains of King Sayasetthathirath. In more recent history, the province became known as the "Land of Heroism" for its strong role in the revolution. There is evidence of the war remaining today, mostly concentrated in the eastern part of the province along the Ho Chi Minh Trail. Attapeu is well-known for its diverse population of Mon-Khmer speaking ethnic groups that still practice traditional livelihoods and swidden farming under a variety of ecological conditions. Some of the main ethnic groups are the Lavae (Brao) located in Phouvong District, the Oy found mostly at the edge of the Bolaven Plateau, the Tailiang in Attapeu town and the Alak located in the eastern parts of Attapeu Province near the border with Vietnam. Nature abounds in Attapeu Province. There is an extensive river network which includes the Xekong, Xe Kaman and Xe Xou Rivers. One can travel the Xekong River along the border of Cambodia and then up in the Xe Pian River with access to Xe Pian National Protected Area (NPA). three waterfalls along the Xe Pian River. Tad Saepha, Tad Samongphak and Tad Saeponglaican, can be reached by foot or by boat with a local guide. Tad Phapong, a waterfall on the Xe Xou River is accessible by trekking or boating and is noted for its many colorful rocks that line the riverside. Dong Amphanh NPA, located in the province's north-east quadrant covers 1.975 km2 and has elevations ranging from 120m to 2.052m. The area is inhabited by a variety of rare and endangered species, including the buff-cheeked gibbon, Asiatic golden cat, clouded leopard, tiger, elephants and Trong Song muntjac. Some of Attapeu's 280 bird species include the Siamese fireback, crested argus, the woolly-necked stork and rufous-winged buzzard. A remote and little known crater-lake called Nong Fa is the largest crater-lake in the country and has beautiful clear waters surrounded by pine forests. Exploration of these remote and beautiful area is possible with local guides.

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