Visitors spending a few days in the province or passing through can visit waterfalls in the Nam Kading NPA and near Lak Xao. Many are easy to access by foot or boat.
“What a paradise! If I’d known, I’d have come here for more than just a day,” said one visitor swimming in Tad Leuk’s natural pool. PKK’s most accessible attraction, the 6-metre-high, broad falls reach a rage during the rains, but seem easy going the rest of the year. Many Vientiane locals, and travellers heading south, camp at Tad Leuk, which remains uncrowded and the launchpad for hikes on PKK’s nature trails. You can reach the falls on the Ban Hadkai road from Route 13 to the Tad Leuk Visitor Centre, which rents camping gear. Several tour companies in the capital offer tours to the falls.
Feel the thunder of Tad Xai Waterfall, as it cascades over seven steep steps on its 40-metre tumble into a forest chasm. Tad Xai is arguably the most beautiful waterfall in PKK, and is particularly attractive during the rainy season. You can reach the falls on a boat ride or trek from Ban Hadkai, or drive 800 metres from the village to Tad Xai’s swimming hole.
Tad Yong Rapids
Frolic in PKK’s Tad Yong Rapids near Tad Leuk. You can visit the rapids during a PKK trek or as a day trip for a picnic, swim, and hike on nature trails. To reach the rapids, take a 20-minute boat ride along the tree-lined Yong River from Yang Kheua Village, about 100 km from Vientiane Capital.
Tad Heua Hak
Have fun in the foamy current crowned by Tad Heua Hak. The rapids translates into “Wrecked Boat”, after a local folktale, and you can splash around in this natural waterpark set in a forest 15 km south of Pakxan, the provincial capital, just off Route 13 at Ban Xaisavang Village.
Tad Nam Pa
Board a boat on a soft sandy riverside beach at Ban Nam Pa, and putter up the Nam Pa River until it transforms into a powerful, boulder-filled flume. Step back on shore at fast-moving Tad Nam Pa and follow a nature trail along the rocky funnel as it crashes through the greenery. Ban Nam Pa is a 25-minute drive north of Pakxan Town into Bolikhan District on the Route 4B. The village also sells handicraft products made by local people.
Tad Vang Fong
Crossing the Nam Kading Bridge on Route 13 gives you a taste of the adventure to come, as longboats putter along the seemingly lazy river and vanish into the mountains. A few km further, the port appears, with boats to take you upriver and into the Nam Kading NPA. The once-calm waters get rough as the river rushes through a rocky canyon, until the Tad Vang Fong Falls completely block the way. You can anchor at the Nam Kading Protection Centre and continue to more rapids and falls by foot. The centre offers accommodation at its lodge or camping equipment for a stay on the grounds.
A rugged trek rewards hard-core adventurers with Tad Thone pouring down the vertical mountainside in a rock-bouncing stream. The 7-km journey to reach the falls kicks off at Ban Naphong, and includes a clamber up the sometimes steep Naphong Elephant Rock. Villagers await at Ban Naphong to greet the weary trekkers upon their return, with an overnight homestay or camping.
If you are travelling on Route 8 towards Lak Xao, stop 40 km west at Ban Thabak and hop on a boat to cruise the Nam Mang River. You’ll reach a wide stretch where the Tad Kai Waterfall rolls 3 metres over shelf into a boulder-filled basin. Stroll along a path for a closer look when the river is low.
Nearby Tad Kai in Ban Na Village, you can hike to the Nam Hi River and see Tad Lung and Tad Fa Waterfall, which drops 40 metres.