Khone Phapheng Waterfalls
Stand in awe at Khone Phapheng, Southeast Asia’s largest waterfall by volume, dumping millions of litres of the Mekong every minute over a river-wide mass of boulders. Khone Phapheng forms a curved fault line, pushing the water with incredible power into an explosive cloud. It then settles into the calm waters that enter Cambodia just 13 km downriver. Historically, the falls prevented upstream navigation by French explorers and merchants. You can access Khone Phapheng’s tourist area just south of Don Khone off Route 13 South.
Li Phi (Som Pha Mit)
Stop at Don Khone’s western bank with views of Li Phi Waterfalls’ twisted network of rocky channels, which blocked navigation up the Mekong. You can see bizarre bamboo scaffold and fish traps balanced across the rapids, and watch the fishermen’s circus act on the wooden frame. While there, sample the fresh fish dishes at Li Phi’s food stalls.
According to legend, the waterfall received its name after a sacred Buddha image (Pha), which fell into the Mekong. Centuries later, the first King of Laos, Chao Fa Ngum, found the statue. “Li” (fish trap) “Phi” (ghost) refers to this 20-km area of the 4,000 Islands as it acts as a giant fish trap with ghosts of boat passengers who died trying to navigate the rapids. Just downriver, you can admire rare freshwater Irrawaddy River dolphins lazily surfacing for air.
Tad Pha Suam
View the 6-metre-high, oddly rectangular shaped Tad Pha Suam Houay, where the Champi River descends towards Salavan Province from the Bolaven Plateau. The falls create a room-like shape (suam), forming a rock-walled swimming pool, and great place for a picnic in a forest setting. Nearby, you’ll find accommodation at Uttayan Bachieng’s treetop bungalows and homestays at the local ethnic Lavae village. To reach the waterfall, follow Route 16E from Pakse, and turn left at Km 21 onto Route 20 towards Salavan. Drive another 12 km until you see the sign for the falls.
Stand in awe of Tad Fane, as the Champi and Pak Koot Rivers meet at a 120-metre cliff, plunging side-by-side from the Bolaven Plateau and landing together in a single pool. View this breath-taking natural marvel from a forest setting at the Tad Fane Resort, and on windy day, expect rainbows to appear among the mist. From here, you can embark on trekking tours in Dong Hua Sao National Park, or kayak on the fast-flowing Houay Bang Lieng River. To reach Tad Fane, travel north of Pakse on Route 16E towards Paksong, and turn at the sign at Ban Lak 38 Village (Km 38).
Take a natural shower under sheets of water pouring off a sheer rock face from the Champi River as it drops from the Bolaven Plateau. Though less frequented by tourists, Tad Champi offers a car park and peaceful picnic area. From here, a path leads to Tad Champi and its handcrafted stairway to the swimming hole surrounded by boulders. To reach Tad Champi, take Route 16E to Km 38 and the road to Tad Fane. The entrance to Tad Champi is a few km past Tad Fane.
Stand on a platform and view this pair of raging spouts blast down a 40-metre ragged ledge through thick jungle. Stairs up and down Tad Yuang Waterfall lead to great swimming pools. A short trek from here wanders through the forest to Tad Champi and other falls. Tad Yuang is located 2 km east of Tad Fane.
Unexplored Champasak Waterfalls
- Tad Pho
- Tad Khamith (Tad Seua)
- Tad Kachome waterfall
- Tad Foy
- Tad Phieng
- Tad Huanak