Photo: Cycling the backblocks of Thonburi.

Cycling in Asia forum

Cycling in the southern provinces

Posted by ade7 on 27/7/2008 at 11:36

I am in Vientiane, soon to be making my way southwards towards Pakse via Thakek. Once in Pakse I am planning on hiring a bicycle and spending some time cycling around Salavan, Sekong, Attapeu. I hear that doing this my motorcycle is relatively popular, though I havent heard of many doing it by bicycle. So, I was just wandering if anyone who has cycled in this area could share their experiences and offer any tips. I have about 12 days max to spend, and am a strong cyclist. Does anyone know what the bicycle hire situation is in Pakse? I would obviously need a mountain bike, not a good quality one, just one which wont fall apart.
Thanks in advance for any help.

#1 ade7 has been a member since 14/4/2008. Posts: 12

Posted by somtam2000 on 28/7/2008 at 08:47 admin

Hi Andy,

As you say, it's a popular route by motorbike -- I've travelled extensively in the area that way. As far as I know all the main roads down there are sealed now, so you shouldn't have much of a problem surface wise, and if you're a strong cyclist, you shouldn't have too many problems getting from A to B as none of the towns are too far apart. With 12 days you could comfortably do Pakse Tad Lo, Salavan, Sekong and Attapeu, and then either throw your bike on the bus to get back, or go via Paksong (though i'm not sure if that road is sealed.

#2 somtam2000 has been a member since 21/1/2004. Location: Indonesia. Posts: 7,576
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Posted by tuna on 29/7/2008 at 11:36

I have recently done this area by motorcycle and had an absolute ball. We spent about 1 week travelling from Pakse > Tad Lo > Salavan > Sekong > Paksong > Pakse and stopping at most waterfalls along the way.

I cycle a lot myself however never did any in Laos so I am unsure of the hire situation in Pakse, everyone in this town was very helpful though and should be able to meet most of your needs.

The only reservation I would have is it is a long way between towns with very little in between, even transit points such as Sekong & Paksong are very, very small towns. Most trips we would only pass a handful of people the entire journey. I wouldnt recommend against doing it I just think the Guidebooks probably understate how remote it really is so it is important to understand this. Pakse, Tad Lo & Tad Fane are all very busy areas so can warp your perception if you visit these places first.The upside is of course that there are very few tourists and it is a real adventure.

The road from Sekong > Paksong is unsealed for a lot of the way however I would highly recommend doing this stretch, probably more so than others. I imagine if you have a decent bike it would be easier on a bicycle than a motorbike anyway. The waterfalls from Sekong > Paksong are the best in the area and the road to reach them is unsealed however winds through forest for several kms, it was the most beautiful stretch of road for the whole trip. The final stretch into Paksong is a very, very badly made sealed road littered with potholes, however again I imagine it would be easier to cover on a bicycle than a motorbike, just avoid the road altogether and ride along the side.

Happy travels!

#3 tuna has been a member since 16/9/2007. Posts: 3

Posted by Tilapia on 29/7/2008 at 19:34

Hi Andy,

I plan on cycling in that area in December and have been doing a fair bit of research on it and have come across several blogs from people who have been pedaling around down there. One of the sites with some great blogs for that area is Crazy Guy on a Bike, but the site is down at the moment as the fellow who runs it is doing maintenance on it. There are a handful more that are very detailed and interesting. I'll post them later when I get back from work. I'm late ...


#4 Tilapia has been a member since 21/4/2006. Location: Canada. Posts: 1,499
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Posted by Tilapia on 30/7/2008 at 23:24

The site is up again. You'll probably find some good info here ...

Good luck and happy cycling.

#5 Tilapia has been a member since 21/4/2006. Location: Canada. Posts: 1,499
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Posted by somtam2000 on 31/7/2008 at 07:15 admin

That's a great site Tilapia - thanks for the link.

#6 somtam2000 has been a member since 21/1/2004. Location: Indonesia. Posts: 7,576
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Posted by Tilapia on 31/7/2008 at 23:35

No problem. It's a great site with great, detailed info. There are lots of good blogs, and many are very cleverly written.

Here's another ...

This one isn't necessarily for S. Laos, but it is a pretty good read about a Canadian guy who rode from Bangkok to Vietnam, through Cambodia. Enjoy.

#7 Tilapia has been a member since 21/4/2006. Location: Canada. Posts: 1,499
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Posted by travellingtwo on 3/9/2008 at 20:09

We met some guys who hired bikes in Pakse and biked the typical Bolaven plateau loop (Paksong, Tadlo, Pakse ). The bikes were very basic (cheap Chinese supermarket standard) and on one the pedal kept falling off and the poor fellow had to stop every 5km in a village to get someone with a hammer to pound it back on. If you get the standard bike in Pakse and run it over those roads you may find it doesn't last long!

We have a few notes on cycling Laos here:

#8 travellingtwo has been a member since 20/7/2008. Posts: 7

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