100cc Trip in Northern Laos?

Discussion in 'Laos Road Trip Reports' started by dustMason, Sep 3, 2007.

  1. dustMason

    dustMason New Member

    I'm in Luang Prabang in the moment trying my best to get some info on the condition of some main roads across the North (highways 13, 1, 138, 6 and 7) so that I might rent a cheapie scooter in LP and make a slow loop around a couple neighboring provinces.
    I searched a little bit around the forums here and found a wealth of great info, and from what i gather I should be able to at least make a trip to Udomxai and Luang Nam Tha from here. Is this true?
    I'd also like to make my way further East to Sam Neua / Vieng Xai and then down to Phonsavan before returning to LP. I have plenty of time to make the trip, I don't mind if it takes me as long as a couple weeks.
    I did a similar trip around northern Vietnam on a little Honda Wave, taking about 2 weeks to do 2000k on it. I understand that riding a proper bike would open up far more choices, but I'd like to take it slow (while saving on the rental fees too)

    Does anyone have some tips / advice / loops they can recommend for me? A good place to rent the bike in LP?

    thanks
     
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  3. Pete_Tallahassee

    Pete_Tallahassee Active Member

    Jordan, I can't offer up any help other than it sounds like you should be able to do it based on what I have read here. This is a great site with some old farts that seem to know what they are talking about.
    Please post up your trip details when you can. I hope to be there in December and do the same thing on a 250cc something.
    Have a good trip.
    Pete
     
  4. mat.ward

    mat.ward Ol'Timer

    You will have a great time pottering about northern Laos. It can however be difficult to hire bikes from LP. Ask Marcus at Tiger Trail about it. His mate bought two 125cc bikes from us intending to hire them out.
    The loop up to Vieng Xai, then down to Phonsavan, and back sounds perfect for you. Good roads, interesting scenery, things to see (Suan Hin, Pathet Lao Caves, Plain of Jars). I would do this first rather than heading to LNT.
    You can look at a couple of posts relating to these roads here:
    http://board.gt-rider.com/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=1406
    http://www.travelblog.org/Asia/Laos/blog-139252.html

    or for more ideas: http://board.gt-rider.com/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=2410

    Have fun, get some protective gear and a good helmet if possible.

    Mat
     
  5. dustMason

    dustMason New Member

    A follow up for those looking to do the same in the future:

    I ended up recruiting two new friends to join me on the ride just as i left Luang Prabang. We made our way to Luang Nam Tha by bus and found a great deal on some 100cc scooters there (two crap Zongshens and a Honda Wave) for just $4 a day. It would mean a fair amount of backtracking to start and end the ride there but the price of the bikes was better than I'd seen anywhere so we decided to go for it...

    For the first day we decided to head down the brand new road that goes to Huay Xai as sort of a test run to see if the bikes would suit us for some extended travels. We went as far as Vieng Phouka and came back - everything was good. We stopped at some villages along the way to ask about nearby caves and waterfalls. A very nice day-trip. Make sure to check out the old broken stupa (forget the name) about 5km from LNT (near the old airstrip) while you're there!

    The next day we took off from LNT early, intending to reach Luang Prabang by nightfall. While I'm sure this is easily possible on a "real" bike, we arrived in Udomxai for a late lunch and decided we'd better break it in half and do Luang Prabang the next day. Our stay in Udomxai ended up being a bit wild - we didn't sleep a single minute that night ;) Don't expect much from this town, though.

    So we departed Udomxai a little worse for wear to say the least and ended up taking a wrong turn... 200kms later we're in Pak Beng. Whoops! (Note that the road was excellent from Udomxai to Pak Beng) We made the most of it with a pleasant night there and finally made Luang Prabang the next day after about 9 hours on the road.

    For those of you with proper bikes, you might consider doing this route and then taking a short boat ride from Pak Beng to the river town just north of Hongsa (forget the name, sorry) and braving the short but rough ride to Hongsa. From there you could either try the very tough road to Luang Prabang (not in the rain!!) or backtrack to the river and boat it the rest of the way to Luang Prabang.

    From Luang Prabang we rode to Muang Sui, spent a night there in some nice bungalows by the lake, and visited the highly disappointing Buddha Cave (Pha Tham) in the morning. We then hit Phonsavan after a nice short ride and visited the jars (#3 is quite nice, very scenic spot, but we scored one flat tire on the janky dirt road which leads there) and opted to continue northward to ______ (completely forgot where we stayed) instead of sleeping in Phonsavan. Another day brought us to Xam Neua which was an excellent ride. Beautiful road. Then we visited Vieng Xai - also fantastic - and took a quick tour to some caves and learned a bit of Laos war history. Rather than stay in Vieng Xai (which would have been quite nice I think) we continued south and then west and got as far as Vieng Thong before ending the day. The roads here got a bit dodgy - I scraped up my foot when i laid down the bike taking a rough corner too fast. Lucky though, no damage and very light injury... There were some short unpaved stretches but nothing that cant be safely done on a small scooter for sure.

    From there we rode to Nong Kiaw, spent a quiet evening there and finally returned to Luang Nam Tha via Udomxai the next day.

    All in all a fantastic journey. The shitty chinese bikes held up beautifully on the generally good roads and we were happy to have only suffered heavy rain for an hour during the whole ride!

    Next time I'm doing it on a XR or Baja though. All I could do was drive past the dozens of inviting dirt tracks we spotted... The GT-Rider map was essential for us. Highly recommended. Even though I speak Lao pretty well, we got so much conflicting information from village locals it was comical. My favorite was one guy who told us it would take 1 hour to drive the remaining 120km to Xam Neua. Get the map ;)

    The whole ride took us 9 days, not including the day-trip from LNT. We rode 4-9 hours every day. Note that we would have saved a day if we didn't make the wrong turn in Udomxai!
     
  6. daewoo

    daewoo Ol'Timer

    dM,

    Thanks a heap for writting up the trip report...

    When people are planning this sort of thing they spend hours researching, and reports like this let them know just how possible it is...

    Sounds like you had a great time...

    Cheers
    Daewoo
     
  7. Pete_Tallahassee

    Pete_Tallahassee Active Member

    Thanks Jordan

    I plan to tour Laos on a 250 soon and reports like this are just what I'm looking for. I'm wondering how long I need to stay in order to make it worth while buying and selling as opposed to renting. Does anyone know or think it doable to buy a tagged bike in BKK and be able to sell it in a couple of days after say 5 - 6 weeks of use, back in BKK? Can I take such a bike into and out of Cambodia and Laos? I've traveled to many places but Southeast Asia is not one. Thanks for any help.

    Pete
     
  8. Craypot

    Craypot Ol'Timer

    Pete,
    Forget about buying a Thai reg bike. The tax is to high. Same for buying one in Laos. If you want to buy get one from Cambodia, you can ride it up into Laos and then out again or sell it in Laos. Renting in Laos is more expensive then Cambodia but its only 20-25 USD per day for an XR250, $4 for a stepthrough. Personally I would rent and forget about the hassles of ownership. But if you rent you can't take the bike from country to country.
     
  9. Craypot

    Craypot Ol'Timer

     
  10. tropicaljohno

    tropicaljohno Ol'Timer

    Frankc may be selling his KTM 535 has Cambodian plate, he is an Aussie, living in Pattaya
     
  11. Pete_Tallahassee

    Pete_Tallahassee Active Member

    Thanks for the replies guys. I'm in communication with Jimio and plan to rent in VTE. A friend and I should be there first week of November. Plan is to ride around the north for three weeks.

    Pete
     
  12. guichard

    guichard Ol'Timer

    Hello Pete,
    We'll be in LPQ Nov 23 24 at Pathoum Phone guest house half way of our Northen loop.3 Hondas AX with Thai plates.How about a Beer Lao together if you're in at that time?
    Cheers, Lung.
     
  13. Pete_Tallahassee

    Pete_Tallahassee Active Member

    Lung,

    If we are there at that time a beer or two sounds great. I really don't know where we will be. After a few days of travel I find most plans go out the window or over the handle bars if you will.

    Pete
     
  14. guichard

    guichard Ol'Timer

    Pete,
    Whatever will be your itineray,i'm sure you will enjoy your ride in
    magnificent scenery,meeting lovable people. We first fell in love for Laos in 1973 and still are.The bikes are better as the trails and roads but nothing basic has changed compare to its big neighbour,Thailand.
    Cheers, Lung.
     

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