Bolaven Plateau Region

The area east of Attapeu was an integral part of the Ho Chi Minh Trail – two main branches, the Sihanouk Trail continuing south into Cambodia and the Ho Chi Minh Trail veering east towards Vietnam, split here – and as such was heavily bombed during the war. One of the few visible reminders of this time is a Russian-made surface-to-air missile (SAM) set up in the village of Pa-Am (aka Ban Sombun) by the North Vietnamese to defend against aerial attack.

It has survived the scrap hunters and, by government order, is now on display, surrounded by a barbed-wire fence held up, in part, by cluster-bomb casings.

Next to the missile is a small handicraft shop with textiles and baskets woven by local Talieng women. If you drive around the village you might get lucky and see some women weaving.

Pa-Am is 16km past Saisettha (follow the signs for San Xai off Rte 18B) and the two villages make a great half-day trip from Attapeu if you have your own wheels. There is no public transport to Pa-Am.

North of Pa-Am the road quickly turns rocky and continues on to Chaleun Xai, 38km north, then northwest to Sekong. This route has been improved somewhat, but it's still rough and recommended for dry-season travel only.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Bolaven Plateau Region attractions

1. Saisettha

9.99 MILES

Saisettha, 11km east of Attapeu on Rte 18B, is a sizeable village on the north bank of the Se Kaman (Kaman River). It used to be a small, quiet village…

2. Attapeu Provincial Museum

16.32 MILES

This large, elegant building holds a small collection of rural and tribal artefacts, tools such as a rice husker, models of various kinds of tribal houses…

6. Lak 3 Market

16.87 MILES

A lively market selling fresh foods, baguettes and other snacks.

7. Dong Amphan NPA

19.74 MILES

The highlight of this 1975-sq-km protected area in eastern Attapeu Province is the fabled Nong Fa (Sky Blue Lake). This beautiful volcanic crater lake,…

8. Tat Hua Khon

29.02 MILES

Three kilometres south of the Tat Faek turn-off from Rte 11 (just past the market), this waterfall is an impressive 100m wide. The P&S Garden resort,…