Coffee Tourism Springs Back to Life in Southern Laos
Strong, full-bodied Bolaven Plateau coffee has been making its way into cappuccinos, lattes, frappes, and ice coffees around the world in recent years, and now global tourists are coming to experience the “Spring of Lao Coffee” in Champasak Province.
Courtesy Southern Laos Tourism Website
Travelers can sip their Morning Joe in Pakse, while watching the sunrise over the Bolaven Plateau, knowing that a 1-hour drive lands them in the thick of Lao coffee country and a choice of high-caffeine tours and cafes in and around Paksong Town.
The Bolaven Plateau in the Morning
Paksong is the hub of the Lao coffee industry, as well as tourism, on the Bolaven Plateau. Endless coffee plantations and processing centers begin popping up as the road from Pakse closes in on Paksong. And serving their caffeinated products are a number of cafés.
Bolaven Plateau coffee tours are starting to come back online after the Covid break, with the top two already committed to welcoming guests. Smaller plantations and roasters are expected to restart their tours and homestays later this year.
Touring Coffee Plantation
Bolaven Plateau Coffee Producers Cooperative
Groups often choose the one-day tour offered by the Bolaven Plateau Coffee Producers Cooperative (CPC). The cultural experience kicks off with a visit to a coffee plantation and the chance to pick beans with one of the 1,855 small-holder farming families that comprise the CPC.
Sorting Beans at the CPC
Participants then take the beans to the CPC center to learn about processing and packing. Next comes lunch with a local family in a traditional house on stilts, before returning to the CPC center to see how the coffee is distributed worldwide. The tour ends with testing and a chance to purchase roasted and ground beans.
CPC organizes tours every Tuesday and Thursday during coffee harvest season from November to March.
Tel/WhatsApp: +856 20 2227 6066
Mystic Mountain Coffee
Mystic Mountain Coffee opens the door to adventure and the Bolaven Plateau’s coffee culture. Mr Khamsone invites tourists into his homestay and walks them through his plantation, teaches them the coffee production and roasting process, and drives them around on a choice of tours in Chinese Army Jeeps.
Jeeping with Mystic Mountain Coffee
Full-day, 2-day, and 3-day jeep excursions into the region’s untouched nature lead to treks through coffee plantations, homestays at Laven and Suay villages, riverside picnics, and hidden waterfalls with swimming holes. During the journey Mr. Khamsone will share the secrets of coffee production from field to cup, finishing with a tasting of several local varieties.
Tours are offered all year round, but Mr Khamsone recommends dry season from November to June to see every stage of coffee production.
Tel/WhatsApp: +856 20 9966 1333
Email: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
A string of cafés offering Bolaven coffee lead up to Paksong, where small coffee houses serve a choice of special brews and cold coffees. Groups and FITs always stop at one or more, and tour operators generally place café visits in their Bolaven Plateau tours.
CC 1971 Café
Located in Paksong Town, CC 1971 Café serves coffee grown by small local farmers in the retrofitted skeleton of a bombed-out building, bringing new meaning to “atmosphere”. The façade of the café remains as it was in 1971, except mortar shells, bomb casings, and remnants of artillery and downed jets are used as decoration.
CC 1971 Cafe
Inside, patrons return to the 21st century with a small counter brewing hot and cold “Paksong Coffee” produced by local co-op, and also presents pastries along with a handful of tables to enjoy their choices. You can even sip coffee in what’s left of the bombed rooms. Back in the café, visitors can purchase bags of Paksong Coffee beans to take home.
Open Daily 6:30 AM – 5:30 PM
Tel/WhatsApp: +856 20 5543 4855
Jing Jhai Coffee House
Two Americans, Janelle Kaz (coffee roaster) and Tyson Adams (clean water specialist), launched Jing Jhai Coffee House in Paksong about 10 years ago. As “the world’s first philanthropic coffee roaster and café,” Jing Jhai aims to build a social coffee business on the Bolaven Plateau by investing their profits into local education and clean water projects.
Jing Jhai Coffee House
Jing Jhai features specialty roasts from beans sourced from local farmers at 25% above Fair Trade prices. Among the top sellers are honey-processed Arabicas. Visitors can purchase packages of their favorite roasted beans during their coffee break.
Open Monday-Saturday 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM
Tel/WhatsApp: +856 20 9994 1972
Lak 40 – Coffee & Tea
Lak 40 – Coffee & Tea sits off Route 16 East at Km 40 and the entrance to the CPC center, and is operated by three generations of a Bolaven coffee plantation and producing family. The rustic café rests in a garden setting, and houses a counter and shelves overloaded with specialty roasts and a hodgepodge of manual coffee makers.
Lak 40 – Coffee & Tea
Visitors can choose from a variety of beans for their favorite type of hot coffee or foamy latte. Lak 40 also offers a curious list of creative iced coffees and frappes, alongside its recently released cold brew. To better serve travelers wanting takeaways, Lak 40 recently opened a modern shop right on the road, where it also offers packages of specialty roasts to go.
Tel/WhatsApp: +856 20 2274 8822
Popular Bolaven Coffee Brands
Getting to Paksong from Pakse
The drive from Pakse to Paksong takes less than an hour. Leave Pakse on Route 13 South to the 8 Km Bus Terminal and turnoff onto Route 16 East. Take the well-paved (partial tollway) 4-lane road past Tad Fane and Tad Yeuang (Km 40) before reaching Paksong Town. Transportation providers and travel agents in Pakse offer transportation and tours in vans and cars.
Tourism & Hospitality Businesses in Pakse Town
Tourism & Hospitality Businesses on the Bolaven Plateau
How to Get to Pakse
*Note: Schedules and frequencies are constantly changing. Please directly contact the airlines for the most current schedule. The schedules/frequencies below are as of 1 July 2022.
Flights from Vientiane
Lao Airlines: One daily flight in the morning
Lao Skyway: Three flights per week in the morning (Tues, Thurs, Sat)