Pic taken from En Route
I highly recommend the Bolaven Plateau ride and should you be interested to do the ride, here are some facts and figures that you may find useful.
Pakse - This is the base city from which to start the ride.
1. By Air - Pakse has a small international airport with flights from the major cities of Laos like Vientiane and Luang Prabang. We flew in from Siem Reap but I know that Lao Aviation also flies in from Ho Chih Min.
Despite horror stories, I have flown Lao Aviation 4-5 times and found them very satisfactory. However, they are not cheap. Our flight from Siem Reap was about US$220 return. Their online booking system worked for us.
2. By Bus -The nearest Thai city near Pakse is Ubon Rachatani , which has a direct bus connection to Pakse that takes about 2 hours and crosses the border at Chong Mek. Buses also connect from Vientiane though this is a ardous journey of 10 hours.
How many days to loop the BP?
We took 5 days to do the 220km including one rest day. This pace averaged 50km a day and was moderately easy and relax. There are numerous excursions to extend the loop but we chose the Lonely Planet recommended loop.
Laos is still relatively quite cheap compared to western countries. For the 6 days, our expenses were as follows:
Hotels 6 nights - US$85 (could have been cheaper if we didnt splurge at Tad Lo resort.
Food - US$66 for 6 days (lunch, dinner and some breakfasts).
Drink stops - US$3-5 per day
US$30 per day is very generous, at least for our group of 4.
For the most part, the roads are excellent as proven by Wei who took a road bike with 700x23 tires. The part that will be challenging are the small dirt roads that lead to the falls. Usually 1-2km from main road.
Elevation peaks at 1300m at Paksong and doing the loop anti-clockwise is preferred. First day of 50km climbing may be challenging but once this is cleared, its easy all the way. Those who want to do the easy way could hop onto a bus to Paksong from Pakse then your ride will be really a walk in the park.
Please write and Im happy to answer any questions you may have. Certainly one of the best rides I've done.