I've heard you can rent a motorbike and ride from either place in around three or four days doing a big loop.
Has anyone done either loop, and if so which would you say was the better.
#1 djkeith has been a member since 28/11/2011. Posts: 13
Did the Bolaven Plateau Big Loop and then down to Champasak and had a fantastic time, top on my recommended things to do in SE Asia list.
83 has a nice accompanying map
I did both the Bolaven Plateu (not all of it - Pakse to Pakson, then Pakson to Tad Lo I believe) and the Thakek "The Loop".
I loved both, but I'd recommend the loop. Go to the Thakek travel lodge, meet up with a group then do it. You can get bikes in town from cheaper if you go to the 'square' near the Mekong (there's a place with a big red LAUNDRY sing that rents them for almost half the price).
If you've already got a group together, the Bolaven plateu is a great trip too but harder to find a group.
#3 Mike89 has been a member since 18/9/2011. Posts: 6
I didn't do the trip through Pakse, but I did do the loop. And from what I heard from people who did both, the Tha Khaek loop is better.
I personally loved it and the scenery was amazing. There is about 60km of road that's absolutely brutal to travel over with those scooters, but just keep your focus and you'll get through it... it takes about 4 hours or so I'd say.
I went with someone I met from Vang Vieng and we had an awesome day. It took us 4 days to get through it, although if you get rained out you may have to wait around another day.
Another tip a friend gave us, was to go anti-clockwise, but that you can decide when you know if you're going to do it or not.
Happy riding either way!
#4 JvC has been a member since 29/4/2012. Posts: 2
I think a little bit of everything, the ride, the sites and the people along the way. There's also an amazing cave you can get to Kong Lor. Absolutely massive and beautiful. But, I can't entirely remember the differences between the two.
#6 JvC has been a member since 29/4/2012. Posts: 2
Agree with JvC on all counts. I didn't meet many people on the Bolaven plateu (which I did solo)... only one couple in Pakson, but there were quite a few at Tad Lo waterfall. Had 4 other people in my group (who I first met in Thakek) on The Loop and met plenty along the way.
The bolaven plateu is still a great ride though, and all of the waterfalls are amazing. The cave at Kong Lo was definitely a bigger highlight for me though, so if you can only do one my money is on the loop. If you're really uncomfortable riding, the bolaven plateu offers better roads (so long as you avoid the 'bad' road - all maps mark it ), but the 60 km stretch of rough road on The Loop is worth it (has amazing scenery so you won't be going fast anyway!)
#8 Mike89 has been a member since 18/9/2011. Posts: 6
The 'bad' road has been under heavy construction since I was there in February 2011 as well - though that has the best waterfall by far. We actually got 'waterfall fatigue' while we were on the Bolaven, but the differences in elevation and town-type broke the trip up nicely. Tiny Tad Lo, the middle of nowhere grid layout of Sekong, Attepeau's border town feel, and the wild west (cool nights) of Paksong made for a very diverse experience.
Really, it was extremely easy to get a bike and a map and get on the way - but since I've done that, I'm very interested in 'the Loop' now, and may have just figured yet another reason to skip Angkor Wat again and go back to Laos.
I did the Bolaven Plateau Loop in March during the dry season. Slash/burn had also already begun, so it was quite hazy. But echoing what some have said above, the waterfalls that we saw on the loop were absolutely breathtaking and made up for the lack of scenery on the road due to the haziness.
A few pics here:
The scenery all along the Tha Khek loop is absolutely breathtaking, from the karsts to the dirt roads through the hairpins and up and down the mountains. For an inexperienced rider the roads on the first day and second half of the second day might be a bit tough, definitely avoid in rainy season. But some of the people I went with were on bikes for the first time in their lives and they managed fine so it can be done! Then you arrive at Kong Lor and that is a sight to behold. Also try to find the 'secret' caves located around the area, and there is one in particular with crystal clear water where you can swim into the cave!
The roads around Bolaven I didn't find to be as scenic, although I didn't do a whole loop, just did a day-trip out to Paksong, stopping for coffee and waterfalls along the way.
Do both if you have a couple of weeks to spare; if you only have time for one, do the Tha Khek Loop and you can still do a day-trip on bikes out of Pakse.
I realise that this thread was started 2 years ago, but thought I'd offer my 2 cents anyway.
#11 JaiYen88 has been a member since 25/4/2012. Posts: 110
How good is the coffee?
#12 LeonardCohen1 has been a member since 24/7/2012. Posts: 2,148
can anyone please recommend a cheap guided motor bike tour option for 7-10 days please?
i heard that laos is cheaper than vietnam & thailand. and more scenic than cambodia.
#13 purcitron has been a member since 15/6/2014. Posts: 33
"can anyone please recommend a cheap guided motor bike tour option for 7-10 days please?"
Guided tour, if you can find one in Laos, ain't going to be cheap.
#14 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957
The Coffee is great! We stopped at a little coffee farm in the middle of nowhere. The owner came out and invited us in with a wave and made four of us coffee in his own Kitchen. We purchased a big bag of coffee from his own garden and drove off into the sunset. I have since made coffee and coffee cheesecake with these beans.
Alongside the coffee and wonderfully friendly locals, we saw some incredible waterfalls, trekked through jungle and spotted a the biggest pig on the planet. (Possibly)
#15 CraigandGem has been a member since 5/8/2013. Posts: 1
i see. any personal experience?
in May, 2015 i did a 10-day, 1600km guided tour in vietnam on a 250cc bike, including all food & lodging for $1100.
#16 purcitron has been a member since 15/6/2014. Posts: 33
"in May, 2015 i did a 10-day, 1600km guided tour in vietnam on a 250cc bike, including all food & lodging for $1100."
Are you going to tell me that was cheap? That's over 100 bucks a day. I ride on this side of the river for less than half that - a lot less than half that. That includes food and lodging and gas as well. About 1,200 baht a day does you just fine. Add a tour guide and suddenly your costs go way up. He's doing it for money, not to be a nice guy.
#17 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957
thats the cheapest guided motorcycle tour on a 250cc bike i could find in SEA.
any suggestions for a cheaper guided tour option?
#18 purcitron has been a member since 15/6/2014. Posts: 33
"thats the cheapest guided motorcycle tour on a 250cc bike i could find in SEA.
any suggestions for a cheaper guided tour option?"
No, not guided tour. I'm a do it yourself guy. Good thing is at least you found a bike with reasonable power. That's a plus. I ride in Thailand - a lot. But I have my own bike which makes things a touch easier obviously. And I speak Thai, which helps too. But you have an interest on doing something cheaper, albeit no guide, let me know. I know a great, very scenic route here and a place that does have a bike to rent, albeit it's a Honda Wave which is a bike I am not fond of.
#19 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957
yes, i'm interested in a great, scenic route.
do tell please.
#20 purcitron has been a member since 15/6/2014. Posts: 33
Let me take a little time to describe it right and I'll put links in here for some video as well.
#21 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957
Well, here's an option for you.
Head to Ubon Rathathani and you can rent a motorbike at Jay Jays. Has a good reputation. Biggest bike is a 150cc scooter. Not the ideal choice, but they're OK. Here's the link to Jay Jays:
A couple of days in Ubon is OK. It's a decent place to kick around.
From there, head off along the Mun river on the 2222 to Khon Chiam. This is where the Mun and Mekong run together. Nice spot. Worth a night there. Here's a short vid of the local:
From there, head due north along the 2112 to Khemmerat. This is really rural Thailand. I always enjoy riding these kind of stretches.
Khemerat is an old town and has a nice feel to it. A night there should be about right if you don't want to ride too hard in one day.
From there, up to Mukdahan where I live. Just before you reach Mukdahan is Phu Pratoep National Park. Good at the end of the rainy season as it has some nice waterfalls active then. Huay Khwam lake is on the left coming from the south. There are signs to it. Also a nice little take and the lake is swimmable.
Mukdahan is a fairly small provincial capital. Some good nightlife. As you enter town, you will see the tower. It houses a Museum that's worth a take (it's only 20 baht). Great restaraunts. For a first timer I strongly recommend Napob, which is on the river road. Go to Mukdahan international hospital and take the road to the river and it's right where the junction Ts. All wood construction with great ambiance and decent food - excellent service.
Here's a vid of Muk: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wthc7YW8714
Mukdahan is worth a couple of nights if you enjoy good music and decent nightlife.
From there, take the river road up to That Phanom . On the way, you can stop at the Church of the 7 Martyrs. Very scenic ride along this stretch. That Phanom is home to one of the oldest temples in Thailand. Loaded with Thai tourists, you won't see hardly any anglos there. The temple itself is beautiful and the museum in the back is excellent with a good history of the temple itself. Again, some good riverside restaurants at this location. Easy place to chill for an evening.
Vid of Wat That Phanom: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c8Y_BmYG5-Y
From there, take the 212 on to Nakhon Phanom. I love this old town. Has a great vibe. Ho Chi Minh lived here when on the run from the French. He's little house is now a small Museum you can take in. Down by the Vietnamese Clock Tower there's a smattering of restaurants and bars. It was here that I had one of my most surreal moments in Thailand as I walked into a bar only to see a Monkey sitting on the bar stool, drinking a beer and smoking a cigarette.
Here's a vid of NKP: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mo50TPhVC5c
30 klicks north of NKP along the 212 you come to Tha Uthen. I like this town. Another place with a nice feel. Good for a lunch stop off. At the next Ampur, you come to Ban Phaeng. There is a pleasant waterfall with a swimming hole. Good for a stop off, a swim and then head to town to find a place for the night. Here's a vid of the swimming hole:
From there you can head north to Bung Kan - Thailand's newest province. I don't find it particularly scintillating, but there are some very old and honored temples in the Mountains to the south of the provincial capital that border Bung Kan and Sakhon Nakhon. If not, drive on and head for Phom Phisai. This is a cool little town with nothing to recommend it except that it's a cool little town.
From Phom Phisai it's a short ride to Nong Khai . I recommend the storied Mut Mee guesthouse because of the food, the cool bungalows, and I suspect about this time you'll want to speak English again. It's a backpacker place, but in a good way. The owner is a cool dude too. Here's a vid of Mut Mee: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8XNr3NWwsnE
From Nong Khai you can head south to Khon Kaen. This is a real city and I recommend hanging out at the University quarter. It has a cool - funky feel to it and the energy you would expect of a university quarter with 35,000 students. Lots of international cuisine here if you feel like not eating Thai at this point and loaded with good nightlife.
From Khon Kaen, there are several options to get back to Ubon. I would go for a over nighter to Roi Et. Again, a fun town with good good and decent nightlife. If you consult the map, you will see this is a very large loop, with the go slow parts on the front end, the move faster parts on the back end.
Depending on time, you could keep moving up the Mekong to Chiang Khan and then make your way back down south. That's a great little town, but in 10 days, it would be a stretch.
#22 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957
If you do come through Muk, drop me a line.
#23 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957
very good details!
so this route is along the thai-lao border.. interesting.
if i do decide to go there i will definitely gen in touch.. thanks!
#24 purcitron has been a member since 15/6/2014. Posts: 33
No problem. Have a good trip whatever you decide to do.
#25 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957
thx for shareing
#26 garruihf has been a member since 17/8/2015. Posts: 3