FEATURE: Bolaven Plateau, the coffee capital of Laos and a perfect getaway
CHAMPASSAK,Laos (Vientiane Times/ANN) - Coffee plantations and waterfalls set in lush green surroundings are among the key attractions of the famed Bolaven Plateau in southern Laos.
The region is located at an altitude of 1,300 metres, about 50 km from Pakxe district, the capital of Champassak province.
With support from the Ratch-Lao Service Company Limited, a small group of media representatives experienced the beauty of the plateau in the middle of November, the coldest month of the year in the region.
We spent a night at the Phu Thevada Hotel at the top of the plateau when the temperature outside was below 10 degrees Celsius, and even colder in the early mornings.
I had passed this area while travelling to the southernmost provinces twice many years ago, but never stopped to take in its charms. At that time, I had seen people burning trees to clear land so they could grow crops.
This time round, I saw the region being improved through the construction of roads. Gardens, restaurants, resorts and coffee shops have come up on both sides of the roads.
In the past, I saw only some small coffee plantations. Now, there is the Pakxong Highland coffee plantation along the main road with numerous coffee shops.
The rich volcanic soil and abundant water resources have helped attract investors. Some of them have launched tourism services, and others are interested in electricity generation.
A new 410 MW hydropower dam, the Xe Pian-Xe Namnoy, is being built on the plateau and is close to completion. Its reservoir will be beneficial to nearby rainforests. The Ratchburi Electric Generating Holding Public Company Limited (RATCH) is a co-developer of the project.
The Managing Director of Ratch-Lao Services Company, Mr Sahachthorn Putthong, said that although the main objective of the project is the generation of electricity, it will also benefit fishery and agricultural activities.
Pakxong district has 107 investment projects worth more than 150 billion kip, including 65 run by foreign investors, which are being developed on the plateau along National Road No. 16, or the East-West Corridor in the country’s south.
The Bolaven Plateau is home to Pakxong district, one of the most popular destinations in Champassak province. While showing respect to the ancestors who protected this land in ancient times, the Lao people refer to Pakxong using the word “Bolaven”.
During his visit to the district last month, Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith told officials and local residents they should be proud of what they have achieved and what they have today, and to treasure Pakxong as though it is a land of gold.
The district was destined to become an important tourist destination because of its natural beauty, coffee plantations, and fruit, vegetable and flower farms. Tad Khameud, Tad Yeuang and Tad Fane waterfalls are among the highlights of this scenic area.
Tourists can also visit a volcanic crater and a 3,000-hectare coffee plantation and taste amazingly fresh coffee.
Pakxong, the coffee capital of Laos on the Bolaven Plateau, is located an hour’s drive from Pakxe, three hours from Si Phan Don, and four hours from Ubon Ratchathani province in Thailand.