We arrived in Pakse with a few days to enjoy the town and organise ourselves before starting the Bolavian plateau, a 170 km loop which is Laos way of introducing tourists to the country in all its glory.
Our first day was spent at the market where Jess found herself in her element, surrounded by vintage stalls covering the whole first floor. This was where we both found thick shirts that would be perfect to ride in. This was also where we found a lunch of red curry with some partially edible looking meat, which actually turned out to be delicious. We then got back to our hostel which looked as though it should have definitely been busier than it was but gave plenty of time for Jess to beat Sam repeatedly at pool. We then went out to find Miss Noy, a motorbike rental shop where the owner sets an hour aside every evening to talk his customers through the loop, recommending things to see or do, places to stay and highlighting areas that are unsafe to stop in. Miss Noy was so knowledgeable and was kind enough to offer time to people after the talk who had never ridden semi-automatics motorbikes (which is often all they had available) before. Sam reserved his Honda Wave for the following morning before going round the corner to pick up Jess’s Honda Scoopy. Surprisingly, although many people rent their bikes in Pakse to do the loop with, all the bikes were immaculate! We were lucky enough to have two brand new bikes to use.
Due to Jess’s inexperience riding, we thought best ride out on a day trip first before starting the loop. We
The Pakse Loop!
The next morning we packed a bag between us before heading out of Pakse once again; this time in the opposite direction towards Tad Lo where we’d be staying the night. The ride between Pakse and Tad Lo was not as beautiful as some of the other rides we’ve done but offered a great starter due to how quiet the roads are and easing riders in softly with handling the hills. What wasn’t so easy was the amount of impatient lorries that shared this loop with tourists so it would be common to be overtaken by multiple lorries at a time on blind corners or hills where bikes can’t keep up. The first day of the loop is also full of wooden bridges that tests your riding ability due to having to ride on the slabs over water in a dead straight line. About 2/3rds of the way up we stopped at Mr Viengs homestay and coffee plantation where we enjoyed iced coffees in his treehouse-style restaurant surrounded by coffee plants and chickens. We then joined the road again to complete the last leg of the day, which was nicer as we drove through multiple small towns and villages.
By 4 PM we’d reached Tad Lo, which turned out to pretty much be a village solely for people riding the loop. We’d hoped to book into a recommended homestay called “Mamas” but as was full,
Our evening plans of dinner at Mammas seemed to be the common consensus of the population in Tad Lo and we soon found ourselves eating the largest portions of food we’d seen in Asia. We met seven other travellers who we shared the evening with, drinking the fridge of all the beers and who we continued the journey with the following day.
The next morning after settling our bar tabs, mama blessed each of us with handmade bracelets for safe travels before we set off. We stopped off at Mr Hooks, a village down a dirt track around 10 miles from Tad Lo. This village was comprised of a small coffee farming community who still hold old traditions including children getting married at 5 and pregnant at 13 as
Finally, after several more hours, we rolled back into Pakse, with just enough time for dinner and a shower before boarding our first comfortable overnight bus to Vientiane, Laos’ capital city.