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Motorbike Trips In Laos | Your Complete Guide!
Motorbike Journeys give you a fantastic sense of freedom that is almost a spiritual practice. Laos has some of the most beautiful countryside, temples, mountains, and rivers the world has to offer. Having ridden a few bikes in Asia, let me go over a few pointers for Laos!
I found Laos to be more tribunal than Thailand & Vietnam, with real adventures, mystery, and beauty. The countries’ history goes back 10,000 years, giving you a sense of rich Buddhist culture compared to Vietnam. The country is relaxed, with cities quieting down around 10pm offering a unique feel compared to Thailand. The mountains have a mist with clouds passing the mountains, Buddhist shrines, and wildlife that you will remember forever.
A lot of the land in Laos is protected by the government, which works great for bikers. The beauty flows from the rice fields to the thick dark jungles with lovely landscapes spanning miles. The villages in the mountains take you into a time warp with traditional indigenous culture and food. The wildlife is also vast, with wild elephants, sun bears, gibbons, and tigers that pop up in national parks daily.
Below I go over the Routes, Insurance, Equipment, and Motorcycle tours.
Lao’s Best Routes
Vang Vieng to Luang Prabang
One of the best routes to ride is Vang Vieng to Luang Prabang, with two enchanting cities to explore when you reach your destination.
There are two routes to choose from: the 13 or the 4, which both offer difference, with the western route being more pretty and offers more twists and turns, but you can ride both if you decide to come back.
The western route is 141 miles(3.5hrs) while the eastern 114miles(5.5 hrs)- When you arrive, I would advise staying over a few nights to take in sites and relax.
Try and add a map with routes on it
A bit about Vang Vieng
This city use to be the party capital of Lao’s and attracted backpackers in their droves with great restaurants, bars & nightclubs. Vang Vieng is also tubing central, which is an experience in itself, but sadly a few backpackers died while tubing. “I guess getting leathered on booze and floating down a river isn’t the most sensible thing to do?” Since then, the town has changed its image and made everything quieter and more family-orientated.
Bikers are in luck with so many beautiful areas for off-roading with beautiful lagoons, huge caves, and secret trails. The whole of Laos is set for bikers but be careful as infrastructure, potholes, and health care aren’t the best!
A bit about Luang Prabang
Luang Prabang is a chilled city full of markets, great coffee, amazing cakes, street food, culture, and tradition. The city is unique, with tourists and backpackers always coming back to this quirky hip joint. The city has “of the beaten track” trails to get your pulse racing. Make sure you check out Kouang Si Waterfall
Luang Prabang to Nong Khiaw – 140k
The traffic in Luang Prabang isn’t too bad, and you can get straight on the road to Nong Khiaw, with amazing views along the way. You can expect to see a lot of farmland with plenty of lush jungle. As soon as you reach Ka Deun (Small Town), the scenery gets so much better, with the locals offering a glimpse into their life. Personally, theirs nothing better than seeing another culture and how they live, and Laos’s being as laidback. You can’t help but love it!
Info On Route
The road is decent overall but does start a little busy, so be careful. You will defiantly see a lot of chickens along the way on the farms. Their are plenty of scenic spots to take pictures and park up for some lunch.
Along the journey, you also have a couple of bridges to cross, with a total journey time of 4 hours. Their are a few fuel stations to stop at Luang Prabang, Pakmong, and Nong Khiaw. Also, you one river, The Nam Ou River In Nong Khiaw.
Nong Khiaw to Vieng Thong – 168k
The ride is high altitude with limestone mountains, forests, and traditional villages with houses made from bamboo materials. The area reminds me of Wales back home but not as tropical, obviously lol, but the valleys and the windy roads keep the experience breathtaking at every turn.
The trek has high altitudes, and when you get to Vieng Kham the drive becomes easier but still has awesome spirals, and the speed picks up. The area becomes more rural, with cattle and farmland surrounding the landscape. You will find Vieng Thong upon your descent, which is a great place to set up sticks for the night.
Info On Route
Along the way, you can expect to see animals like cows, chickens, buffalo, and some of the best views in South East Asia. The road conditions are good overall, but you always expect to see potholes in Asia, so be careful.
Journey time is 6/8 hrs, including breaks, and corners can be sharp. Its better to go in the dry season for obvious reasons, and fuel stations on the way are – Nong khiaw, Viang Kham, Vieng Thong.
The Equipment You Need Before A Bike Journey
Before you even attempt your journey should always plan your equipment and insurance. You have to remember that anything can happen on the motorbike journey, so the sense of preparation can only help. There are a few things you need to pack, and they are as follows.
A Good Map
You need to get a good map that’s properly illustrated, with decent graphics and information. It’s pretty pleasurable to get your map out and navigate by yourself to get to your destination. While you’re thinking of buying a map, make sure you get a waterproof one. Also, make sure it’s unrippable, there’s nothing worse than a ripped map.
Although the maps are great in the outback, you can’t take chances. I love GPS because it’s a dedicated system to find in your way instead of a multifunctional mobile phone. Most GPS is waterproof and has glove touch buttons.
The voice control bluetooth system works better than mobile phones with regular updates from approaching hotels and petrol stations, helping the ride to become easier and less stressful.
Bluetooth Helmet Coms
It’s pretty cool to put music on or speak to your fellow driver about possible stops that you need to make. In 2021 the Bluetooth headphones are better than they were ten years ago are a lot better Bluetooth range and sound quality.
I do advise you not to take any calls while you’re driving, though, as it’s knocks your concentration down by at least 60-70%. Just pull over anytime you get a moment.
I think this is a great idea and potential backup if you have a hazardous situation. An emergency communication system will ping a message to your family and friends. The problem is f you’ve come of your motorbike, sometimes it takes a while to find where you are. At least this way, someone will get the heads up, and you stand more chance of getting found.
The device fits in your pocket and shoulder strap depending or where you thinks best, and it cost around $150 for a year subscription.
I always recommend getting travel insurance if you going overseas, but if you’re going on a motorbike tour, you need it! You have to think about the charges you have if you have an accident, such as transport and medical bills, which add to the thousands.
Make sure you’ve got premium insurance cover with helicopter ambulance included in the price. If your looking for an insurance quote, check at go-comapre
Below I’ve listed a few motorbike companies in Laos should you need an operator