Hi, I'm going to spending a month in Laos from around the 26th of July and would love to do some of the motorbike routes I've read about in the south (Pakse/Bolaven Plateau, The loop from Tha Khaek) and perhaps some in the north as well (Luang Nam Tha to Muang Sing, around Nong Khiaw if possible) and any other suggestions anyone has.....obviously the problem may well be the road conditions during the rainy season....are there sections of these routes that are stiil normally passable this time of year or will it just be a complete washout??
#1 schuthie has been a member since 7/5/2012. Posts: 1
The roads around the Bolaven Plateau are very good ( Pakse - Tad Lo - Salavan - Sekong - Paksong). I believe the road from Sekong to Attapeu is pretty good too. By good, I mean they are well sealed/paved, and not many potholes. You still have to dodge pigs, dogs, goats and other critters thought!.
The back road from Attapeu to Paksong is still a dirt road (as of last November) and pretty rough even during the dry season. I was told not to attempt as there had been lots of rain.
I also found that many of the waterfalls are down dirt roads which meant getting there was a bit messy so I actually missed out, not being a super-experienced rider and nor on a dirt bike.
When travelling through the plateau in November we ended up getting quite a bit of rain most days. It got pretty bad at the end and we decided to cut out Attapue - mainly because it just wasn't fun riding in the rain! And it was bloody cold at times on the bike. I had a raincoat, two thin merino layers and a T-shirt and I was absolutely frozen on the last haul from Paksong to Pakse in the pouring rain. If you're happy riding in rain, don't let it put you off - but just come prepared. It was plenty warm the rest of the time. And the first few days, it only rained for an hour or so in the morning so it was easy to dodge. It just got steadily worse the week that I was there.
Enjoy - I still think it's a fantastic way to see the country.
(I'll leave the others to comment on the northern areas...)
There's about 60-80 km of dirt (in one long stretch) on the Thaekek loop that would probably be pretty tricky in the rainy season I'd imagine
#3 Mike89 has been a member since 18/9/2011. Posts: 6
We did the Bolaven Plateau in the wet season, and the back road from Attapeu - Paksong was pretty tricky and slippery at times. (However in saying that it was still pretty good for Laos standards). My partner and I did it on a Honda Wave, and she only had to walk/help push a few times when we veered off the main road to get to some waterfalls (however these are only ever a couple hundred metres long so park your bike and walk if you don't feel confident). If you're half decent on a bike and willing to take it slower then go for it. No parts will actually be washed out as there's really good bridges etc across rivers. We found the worst parts to be the slippery, compacted dirt as opposed to the sloshy mud... if that makes sense.
That one section of road was by far the best bit of the loop, and I would go so far as saying if you're not going to go on the back road, dont bother with the loop, and just make a side trip to Tad Lo and its surroundings instead.
NB: when we did it about 8 months ago, for the last section there was a hoard of heavy equipment and road workers working on the road, so I can only imagine that the road is probably very good now.
#4 norbit has been a member since 21/8/2010. Posts: 16
'or otherwise stick to the sealed roads'
I'd second that.A few years ago I was driving near Ban Lung in the wet season on laterite and apart from negotiating the most horrendeous puddles (more like mini-lakes) the red stuff is like ice on your tyres and the back wheel can slip very easily as I found out. We came off on a bend and I fractured a rib and while I was recovering another two bikes lost control on the same bend.
If you want to go on laterite get a dirt bike or don't go.
An acquaintance of mine, who is a very good, very experienced rider took a dirt bike from Tschepone to Ban Loboy at the end of the rainy season. He made two big mistakes:
1. He went alone
2. He went when the rainy season had just ended.
Some of the roads were bisected by streams which he could barely ford, and he lost control in one and nearly drown when he was pinned under the bike. He had a dirt bike, but even there there are limitations. So good advice from the above. Stick to hardball roads and known routes until the dry season has really set in, and don't ride alone.