The increasing popularity of nature travel is making it possible for curious explorers to discover the world's most beautiful — and off the beaten path — sights and sounds. For adventurers making their way to the recently “opened” nation of Laos – the country has only been opened to tourism for about a decade, the ideal destination for natural beauty is undoubtedly the Bolaven Plateau.
Located between the Annamite Mountain Range and the Mekong River, the plateau is a vibrant plot of land that rises some 4,430 feet above sea level. The area's height combined with its numerous rivers have given rise to a series of beautiful cascades, including the Tadfan, Tad Yeung and Phasuean waterfalls.
Visitors may also notice fields of the Bolaven's cash crop, coffee, a product introduced by French settlers in the early 20th century. Plantations still line the plateau, and provide a welcoming scent to the region after rainstorms.
Cultural travelers will be able to see the native Laven peoples, for whom the plateau is named. Though several other ethnic groups (notably the Alak, Katu and Ta-oy) have flourished in the region, the Laven remain the most prominent group and have largely maintained their traditional animist culture. In recent years, many Laven families have begun intermarrying with other ethnic groups, creating a more diverse environment and nature, and spreading Buddhist beliefs throughout the plateau.
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