Mar 07 2013
The Tha Khaek Loop, also known as the Konglor Loop or just the Loop, is a 500-kilometre motorcycle journey starting and ending in Laos’ Tha Khaek. It takes in the stunning limestone scenery of Khammoune province, remote villages and many caves, of which the highlight is Konglor, a seven-kilometre long cave which has a large river running right through the middle of it.
Most people do the loop in three to five days depending on how many of the sights on the loop they want to take in and how many hours per day they want to ride.
Regardless, everyone takes in at least some of the caves between 10 and 20 kilometres to the east of Tha Khaek where you immediately get a feel for the landscape and the people — small villages, lots of farmers.
In years gone by, almost the entire 500-kilometre journey was on dirt roads, but recent road-paving projects have made almost the entire journey rather easy to navigate by motorbike. Even the last terrible 30-kilometre section of road is undergoing an improvement programme and some may feel that the loop is not so much of an adventure any more. We think it still is an adventure, but without some of the hardships of the past.
To extend the loop and take in some really remote areas, take the road to the east from the small town of Mahaxay. This road is a 200-kilometre loop which eventually comes back around to Route 12 and leads back to the main loop route. Along this particular detour, you’re almost guaranteed to not see another foreigner. The road is dirt most of the way and it culminates in a river crossing which requires you to sit on your motorbike on a canoe.
Along the entire loop, there are small guesthouses and plenty of places to get a feed of rice and noodles. Before departing, your motorcycle hire place is likely to provide you with a rough map of where you can stay and you can get an idea of how you want to pace your journey. A good rule of thumb is: three days is a rush, four days is relaxing and five days is for the extended loop.
Great information is available at the Travel Lodge guesthouse in Tha Khaek. Whether or not you’re staying there, it’s worth popping in and checking out their loop log books.
Motorbikes are available for rent from a variety of places in town with Travel Lodge charging 100,000 kip and others cheaper than this.
If you’re thinking of visiting Konglor and have a few days to spare to go on an adventure, the Tha Khaek Loop is certainly something worth considering.
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