Bolaven Plateau Trip Report

Discussion in 'Laos Road Trip Reports' started by brian_bkk, Jul 25, 2011.

  1. Hi Guys,

    Short one as only three days.

    Thursday 21st:-
    Put the bike on the train in Bangkok and take a first class sleeper.
    Ear plugs and 1/4 of a sleeping tablet and not too bad a sleep.

    Friday 22nd:-
    Arrive Ubon 1 hour late so did not really get moving to the border until about 9:15 am
    Nice quick ride to the border with one stop for a 7/11 hot dog and coffee for breakfast :-0
    Arrive at the border and meet two other Aussies that are crossing over with two phantoms and their wives. Both bikes were in Franks name so they took an hour to get the paper work sorted to temporarily transfer one bike to the other name so they could take it out.
    We crossed together. Shared the map with them and a bit of a discussion.. They liked the idea of lunch down by the Mekong in Champasak and we set off together. After clearing customs and a coffee in the aircon at the duty free shop..
    Nice ride down the new road. Rain out on the Mekong to the left and rain in the mountains to the right.. Dry as a bone along the road.. really beautiful. Had a lovely lunch by the river.


    It was getting a bit late 2pm so no time to try the tracks sent to me by Jim (next time). Went to ride off to Wat Phou, I had a flat.. So I had my first lesson on how to change the rear tyre.. Rob knew what to do and I had the KLX tool kit. Next we found a local with tyre levers. I balanced the bike, Rob was the foreman and the local did all the hard work for 100 baht.. That was my spare tube gone on day one.. Worried about another puncture. I kept the tube hoping to get it patched in Paksong.


    Now with another hour plus wasted.. We decided to knock Wat Phou on the head and head straight to Tad Fan. just in case the evening thunderstorm came along..


    Arrived Tad Fan just before 5pm. lovely and cool. Had a fantastic dinner.. That night it was down to 20c.. Nice to lay in the bed with a blanket and feel toasty warm..

    The next day we headed for Tad Lo with a stop in Paksong. Say Hello to Mr Koffee and see if I can get my tube patched..

    I was very surprised.. They had a made in Thailand tube that fitted the KLX.. no China rubbish. 30,000 kip. So that solved that problem.. Mr Koffee said the mechanic is Vietnamese and very smart.. he has all the tools and bits.. When he can't get them.. he makes a few calls and can have the necessary bits sent up from Pakse.. (Good to know you can stop here and try for any repairs)

    Decided we would take a bit of a ride around before heading to Tad Lo.. but it was pissing down heading down the other side of the Plataeu.. so after an hour perched under some shelter..
    Decided to push on to Tad Lo and relax a bit.. 2 hours after arriving the sun was out and it was lovely.. The water falls are spectacular with the Flood gates open at the hydro plant.. The usual 5pm elephant bath in the river always makes this a nice place to spend the late afternoon.

    Next day a ride down to Salavan and back.. Started off fantastic.. coming back big dark clouds hanging over the Plateau.. Had a bit of a drenching but pushed on the to the other tree house resort about 33 km out of Pakse on the loop. Having lunch here and it really opened up.
    I had to go as needed to be back in Ubon to put my bike on the traine.. The others came too as they decided to stay in Champasak that evening.

    The rain was torrential.. so heavy and lightning and claps of thunder above us.. It was peeing down heavy all the way until the turn off to Champsak after the bridge.
    Then I had a race to the border to beat the storm. Caught me in the last 3 km.. My boots half full of water, saturated and shivering.. Thinking, please no more.. let me get to Ubon.. 10 metres in to Thailand it stopped and the roads were dry all the way to Ubon and made excellent time..

    From the bridge at Pakse to Ubon station was 2 hours 35 mins.. One petrol stop and the border crossing. Dropped the bike at the station, and headed to the airport..

    3 day trip is very doable from Bangkok with the sleeper / fly scenario.

  2. Hi Brian
    could you tell me how you arranged the bikes on the train to Ubonm, what time it left etc as i would like to repeat your trip but only have a few days to spare and overnight train may be the answer.

  3. Hi Muzza,

    Ring up the SRT. Explain you want to take the train with your bike.. To ensure they book you on a train that can take frieght.
    Pick up your ticket with in 48 hours of booking it. I usually send a messenger to do this. Saves the hassle.
    ( SRT have an online service too.. But you can't see which trains can take freight, unless you ring and ask first then pay online)

    Take the bike to the station one hour before and pay at the parcel / frieght section, near where the trains are.

    Time leaving Bangkok was early evening, arriving around 7+ am. cost 1,100 for upper bunk, 1,300 for lower bunk. Last time I was having lunch by the Mekong in Champasak around 1pm.

    1.5 hours to the border. 45 mins to Pakse.. 30 mins at the border.. may be 45.. Very straight forward. When you cross to Lao head up the little hill to the right and get your visa and insurance.. I have another post on here some where that details that process.

    I took a plane back the Monday evening and put the bike on the train. Buy a 3rd class ticket for 200 baht and pay to put the bike on. Around 1,000 baht one way for the bike.
    Just don't tell them you will fly as you are suppose to accompany the bike. Though lots of people do this. you just can't say you are doing it.
    Pick the bike up the next morning and go to work.. You don't need to meet the train in Bangkok. They will off load it and chain it up with the others.. Just tip them 100 baht for putting it on the train and taking it off.

    Train leaves Ubon around 6:20 pm and the flights leave around 8pm depending on whethere it is Thai or Air Asia.

    Very doable for a long weekend.. of course 4 days and more would be better.. 2 nights and 3 days if still fun and a nice break from Bangkok. Not much more hassle than going to Chiang Mai for the long weekend.. and you get cheap beer Lao :)

    Just plan to be in Pakse and heading for the border by 2pm latest 3pm (time yourself from Ubon and then add some buffer for coming back)
    The road to and from Ubon to the border is great.. sit on 100kph + easily most of the way.

    I will be up there next Songkran for sure.. only place you can sleep with out A/C at that time of the year and not to hot to be out on the bike.

  4. Thanks Brian , I appreciate the information.



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