Stand at the knee-shaking precipice of a 90-metre-high cliff, where the Xe Set River leaps off the edge into the valley below. To admire the lead up to the launch, sit at a perch on the upriver banks of the Xe Set. Watch the river weave between boulders into small pools before reaching a wide, flat floor and the final hurdle. Here, you catch a postcard view of the valley with the falls pouring into the fertile plain. Step right up to the brink and peek over the ledge.
To reach the head of Tad Souang, take a 1-km trail from Ban Saneum Nai to a set of natural stairs descending to the falls. French colonials had built a series of ladders along a similar route, but a rockslide destroyed those decades ago. Near the falls, inspect the huge stone caskets (Long Sop Saen Kham), from an early civilization, in a cave on Phou Saen Kham Mountain. Also, stop at Ban Saneum Nai, an ethnic Suay Village with a community house on stilts, and observe an old weaving method using laptop looms.
Imagine waking up, stepping outside your room, and finding yourself facing a 30-metre-wide, tree-lined waterfall crashing over a 10-metre wall. This vision of descending tiers roaring into a series of rapids turns into reality when staying at Tad Hang and a riverside room. Though Tad Lo holds the headlines, you’ll first see horseshoe-shaped Tad Hang from the Xe Xet River Bridge at the Tad Lo tourist enclave, perfect for a selfie. A riverside path leads up the Xe Xet, and offers peeks of the falls from between trees and on boulders.
From Tad Hang, walk upriver through a 500-metre maze of shrubbery. Then, climb a rickety set of stairs to a riverbank platform. Here, you’ll get a great angle looking straight at Tad Lo. A jutting rock protrusion splits the 12-plus-metre cascade in two. They continue to power to the base, landing in a cloudy mist.
Journey 15 km on a dirt road into the jungle to witness the 5-metre-wide Tad Tevada Waterfall shoot off a 30-metre cliff. Rock fists interrupt the vertical drop, creating loud, misty chutes surrounded by thick forest. A trail connects the top and bottom, both of which make great picnic areas. Access to Tad Tevada is from Viengkham Village in Salavan District on Route 20 between Salavan and Pakse.
Often overlooked, Tad Maihia presents four, side-by-side spouts dropping dozens of metres from a Bolaven cliff. The force of the plummet creates a turbulent pool, with the raging current racing downstream. Tad Maihia is located in Ban Phokhem, about a 30-km drive from Laongarm Town.
Those on an extended Salavan stay may want to visit Ban Nabone on the Tapoung stream about 8 km from Laongarm. The short falls present a picturesque backdrop, but a village legend also attracts visitors. When the French colonials arrived, Ban Nambone was in disarray. The village leader, Mr Sen, had evil powers. One year, several villagers got ill and died with no known reason. They thought Mr Sen killed them. So, they took him to the falls, slit his throat, and tossed his body in the stream. From that time, villagers called the falls, Tad Sen.
The Xe Don River widens as it reaches Kou Village in Vapi, and the rapids drop a metre or two from stony slabs. Its name comes from a tale of Mr Kou, a poor family man and farmer with a house near the Xe Don. One day, while fishing, Mr Kou slipped, hit his head on a rock, and died. To reach the village and falls named for him, turn at Km 15 on Route 20, and travel for about 4 km.
Vang Kham is in Laongarm District on the way to Pakse.