Route 11 between Sekong and Attapeu Towns follows the eastern rim of the Bolaven Plateau and the Sekong River, and presents three easy-to-reach waterfalls. At Km 14.5, a turnoff leads to Tad Faek, a 5-metre-high waterfall with pools at the top and bottom. The upper pool is good for swimming, but the lower pool is home to the sharp-toothed, evil-sounding pa pao puffer fish.
A few kilometres further, just past the Se Nam Noi River Bridge, a cart path leads to Tad Hua Khon (Waterfall of Heads), where the river steps down 7 metres at a 100-metre-wide shelf. The falls earned their name after a WW2 conflict, during which Japanese soldiers decapitated Lao forces and tossed their heads into the falls.
Also near Sekong Town and accessed from Route 11, the Huay Katam River explodes out of the Bolaven Plateau’s thick jungle and cascades down 100 metres into deep pools at the little-known but spectacular Katamtok Waterfall
The 1,335-km2 Xe Xap National Protected Area (NPA) covers Sekong’s far north-eastern mountains and overlaps into Salavan Province. Currently, there are no tourism activities available in the NPA, which is home to two species of bears, gaur, dhole, serow, large antlered muntjac, and tigers. They live in Xe Xap’s evergreen forests on rugged terrain and high plateaus at some 1,400 metres. Steep faces trim the NPAs eastern and southern sides, with Dong Be Mountain rising 2,066 metres.
However, 72 km from Sekong Town, you can visit natural sites in Kaleum District. You’ll find the natural Vang Ngai Pool in Ban Proy, Ban Bark’s hot springs, and the Thong Neum Plateau at Ban Dakran. It is recommended to hire a guide to explore these more remote natural attractions. Easier to find is the Kaeng Luang Rapids in Kaleum Town’s Ban Nava.
For a cultural experience, you can visit Ban Khan Don and immerse yourself in the traditional lifestyles of the Katu, Alak and Ngae ethnic groups. You’ll need to hire a guide in Sekong Town or Pakse for the journey to see the Katu’s finely hand-carved coffins and the Talieng weave the traditional chequered tha khatil cloth worn by men around their waists. In nearby Dakchung, you can admire thatched longhouses in a community that has stood for centuries, and survived the Indochina War.