My attempt to the Secret City of Long Tieng

Discussion in 'Laos Road Trip Reports' started by Larry Baraniuk, Mar 30, 2006.

  1. My first attempt was on a Honda Dream that I rented in Vang Vieng.Actually I just wanted to use the bike to scope out the condition of the dirt road that starts at Tha Heua.I found the road to be too bumpy for a small bike and realized that a 250cc Baja would be better suited.
    I went Back to Vang Vieng to try (for the third time) to get them to send up a 250 Baja from Vientiane.No luck.So I decided to rent an old russian army jeep and managed to only make it as far as Houay Kham (had problems the brakes being seized on on the front right tire).I then went to Vientiane and rented a 250 Honda XR 2- cylinder and started my third attempt from Vientaine.Had a late start because I had to get mirrors put on the bike. It took 2 -1/2 hours to get up to Tha Heua ( 120 km) due to the slow speeding zones through each town and village.Then it took 2 hours to do 74 km to Houay Kham.Then I only managed to do another 40 km toward Long Cheng (where I believe Long Tieng use to be).I decided to turn around at 5:30 pm. I was close but I think I needed to go another 20 km's to get to the secret base.By the time I got back to Houay Kham it was already dark.I then rode to Vang Vieng and spent the night there.I rode 360 km that day (9 hours riding time).The next day I rode back to Vientiane.I am still saddle sore.Right now I'm in Bangkok considering a 4th attempt.I have some pictures of the trips .I just have to figure out how to attach them onto this post.
    Latter today
    At this point I was 40 km's north of Houay Kham and I think I was about 10 to 15 km's away from Longcheng.
    This picture was taken 35 Km's North of Houay Kham.
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  3. scot harper

    scot harper Ol'Timer

    Hey Larry hope your monkey butt has lost its swelling and heat disapation, look foreward to seeing your pics(of trip)[:D]
    One question for the soon to be informed,Why is Long Tieng a secret?
    and will it still be a secret if you tell me the attractcion of L/T
    What sort of secret shit went on there, one moore thing will you have to kill us all on the Gt-rider board if you tell us[:(]
    If you do start with DavidFl, then David,and work your way through Asia,England,Yanks,Kiwis,then on to Australia[:D]
    Regards Scott,no fixed abode, But Tom Fordes in Newcastle(Hi Tom)
  4. Long Tieng was a secret air base that was operated by the American CIA during the Vietnam war.To get more details about what this place was all about read the books "Air America" or "The Ravens" both written by Christopher Robbins.Or just rent the video "Air America". At one time this base was the bussiest air base during the war and was the second largest city in Loas.It was one of the best kept secrets during the Vietnam war.The other best kept secret was the existance of the a highly sophisticated navigation system located on "The Sacred Moutain" better known on the map as mount Phou Pha Thi but was also known as Lima Site 85 . Fellow biker adventurest Robert Hiekel has a really good posting of Lima 85.
    Long Tieng was also known as "Lima Site 20 Alternate" and "Spook Heaven".
    Anyways, in the book "The Ravens" there is a black and white panoramic picture of Long Tieng that I brought with me on my bike trip. Actually I was starting to get kind of spooked the closer I got to Long Tieng.Seeing a bunch of local people wearing battle fatigues and carrying AK rifles kind of gets a person nervous especially when your riding in poppy country.
    I'm sure there are allot of secret places around there that I don't want to know about and that the locals don't want anybody to know about.
    Thats it for now, hope I can soon figure out how to attach some pictures to this Post.
  5. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

  6. scot harper

    scot harper Ol'Timer

    Larry you epic adventurer you, thanks for the extra info,look foreward to seeing your pic's.
    Regards...Scott..Land of oz.
  7. Auke

    Auke Ol'Timer

    Have been fiddling around with my maps a bit. Calibrated the map in OxiExplorer and have handdrawn the track following the road shown on the map. The map shows the Longcheng airfield and this is about 45 km from the junction from Houay Kham according to my track in Ozi.

    Accoring to the map there is a junction at about km 37 where a left turn brings you to Long Cheng airfield over a river (bridge) right after the junction. The road straight on goes to Ban Nampha (about 40 km from Houay Kham) and I assume on to Phonsavan - the map does not show a road here but the map is quite old (1982). Maps used are from the National Geographic Service of Laos numbers E48-25 and E 48-38.

    In case you have a GPS, the Longcheng airfield is located at 19 degree 06.372 N and 102 degrees 55.423 east (WGS 84). In case someone has GPS tracks of this area I would appreciate if you could share them with me so that I can better check the accuracy of my map calibration. In case you need a copy of the map with the track drawn email me offline.

    Offroadlanna in Chiangmai but now located in Vientiane
  8. According to my Odometer I was 40 Km's north of Houay Kham.I guess I was closer to Long Cheng than I thought.Anyways I'm in Bangkok right now and I'm flying to Udon Thani this afternoon then I'm going to be in Vientiane tomorrow where I'm going to rent a Baja 250 and then head up to Vang Vieng.On the 3rd of April I'm going to make another attempt to Long Cheng.
    Thanks for the info!
    Cheers from Larry
  9. On my final successful attempt to the Long Tieng airfield I noticed I had made a mistake with my odometer reading during my 3rd attempt and that the actual spot where I turned around was 30 Km's away from Houay Kham.
    The junction that takes you to the airfield is 40 km away from Houay Kham and the airfield is 8 km from the bridge.
    From Vang Vieng to the airfield is a total of 145 km and it took 6 hours to get there and 5 hours to get back. The road is very shakey and it shook the 2 rubber gas tank mounts off of the 250 Baja that I rented.
    I really enjoyed the ride to the airfield and I'm looking forward to doing it again.
    This is the famous sign at Houay Kham.I don't know what it means but this is where you turn left to go to the Long Tieng airfield.

    This is the bridge that I went across that is at the junction 40 km away from Houay Kham.

    This is a picture of what remains of the Long Tieng airfield.
    At the very northern end of the runway is the mountain that they called "The Vertical Speed Brake".
  10. Pgt066

    Pgt066 Ol'Timer

    Did you actually get onto the airfield and into the ville?

    I am friends with one of the Raven Forward Air Controllers that use to fly out of there. Him and his mates are very curious about the current status of getting in there, as they have believed it to be impossible.

    The former CIA operative to setup the whole program between the US GOV and the Hmong people recently was able to get back in there with a guy filming a documentary.

    You can check out parts of the video on this site . It is a good sneak peak inside. It takes a few mins to load on a highspeed connection.
  11. No, I couldn't go to the actual airfield.I was stopped at a guard post and asked for papers.I have a picture of the guard station posted in my topic "My Ride To The Secret Airfield Of Long Tieng".
    Even though you can't get into the airfield it is still allot of fun getting into that area. The surrounding countryside is awesome and I am looking forward to going there again.
  12. Pgt066

    Pgt066 Ol'Timer

    Thanks for the info. It sounds like you did all that you could do without getting shot or arrested. I will circluate your comments and pics to my friend who will let other Ravens have a look. Keep us updated on your next attempt.

    If you want to do this ride sometime in the Fall, I would not mind going with you.
  13. The fall might be a little too early for me to go back again because of my job.
    I'm also wondering about how the weather is in that area at that time of the year.
    I heard that it's a good time to go flying ,because it rains enough to get rid of the haze.
    I would really like to go there again before the area gets too busy with the hydro dam project.
    It sounds like Long Cheng is going to become a busy place once again and I recommend that if anyone who wants to go there should go there as soon as possible.
    Anyways, I can't really say if I can get there for the Fall season,it's too early to make that call.
  14. mactbkk

    mactbkk Ol'Timer


    "You can check out parts of the video on this site . It is a good sneak peak inside. "

    Hey, that's me and Roger Warner, March 2006 on the first try. Well, 2nd try as we also got turned around at the gate. So went on to Xaysomboun for the night and next morning wandered around and finally got a permission slip, hand written on a large yelly PostIt note that worked for the visit that afternoon.

    The wife and I've been back four times since then doing some school support stuff there in the valley. Haven't been stopped at the gate again, yet....

  15. mactbkk

    mactbkk Ol'Timer

    Forgot one item. I am not and never have been "CIA," was with IVS (International Voluntary Services) and USAID/Laos long years back.

  16. Hi Mac
    I have seen the video on and found it very interesting.
    You are very lucky to have gone back there 4 times already.
    I am looking forward to going there again soon (March 2009).

    I'm also wondering about the dam building project that was suppose to be happenning there (referring to the rock samples shown on the video).

    A picture of me near the airfield.

    A picture taken at the gate of Long Tieng

    The bike I used to get to Long Tieng
  17. ThePoMoBro

    ThePoMoBro Member

    Anything new about this route? I'm thinking about renting from Vientane, cruising to Vang VIeng, and then to Long TIeng. I'm traveling alone but I've been doing some great street and trail riding around Chiang Mai and I'd like to try this route next.

    Is it doable this season? (I'm quite a good trail rider but don't want anything too crazy since I'm going solo)

    Is my GTRider Laos map enough for the trip or should I try to find some more detailed topo maps? Do I need GPS?
  18. mactbkk

    mactbkk Ol'Timer

    I'd think not recommended at this time. There was some "trouble" on the road up from the gold mine, Nam Gnome/Huey Khun, last month, not sure what it was all about but some shooting was involved.

    I'm in Phonsavanh now, down to Tha Thom tomorrow, back here, then out on Friday. Sort of busy schedule at the moment, perhaps more later.

  19. mactbkk

    mactbkk Ol'Timer

    Forgot one item.

    As far as I know, cannot get east from Rt 13N towards the Long Tieng junction at Nam Gome (or Huey Kham) towards Xaysomboun these days. The Nam Ngum 2 dam is filling up and the road will be under water in the Ban Xon area, where the Nam Ngum crosses the road. Don't know where the "wet" starts but reckon it'd take a good sized snorkle to get through!

    The better route up to Xaysomboun, if anyone's interested, is from RT 13S of Vientiane about 92 km to Tha Bok, then north to Long San (pretty good guest house there), and on north. Must say, tho, I've not been up this way since December 2008.

    FYI, "security" is always a concern up that way and the officialdom in Xaysomboun itself can sometimes be officious, so I've read on this forum.

    Mac, the 4-wheeler
  20. Jurgen

    Jurgen Ol'Timer

    Thanks for the "secret" report :) . Amazing Laos, such a small neutral country (Asia's Switzerland) with so many secrets about no war, no CIA agents, no bombings (or just some slight navigation mistakes over the Plain of Jars) and peaceful Hmongs smoking their pipes. For sure a lot more to learn and to discover on our bikes!
  21. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    One side of the story....
    that some of us may or may not agree with.
  22. Jurgen

    Jurgen Ol'Timer

    Thank you David for the link … I did not know it ! When I visited Phonsavan and witnessed the numerous airborne « buffalo bath tubes » I was curious to know more about Laos heavy metal rain. MAC/ UXO exhibition in town was a beginning, then I found a couple of books. I am still happy to learn more :), as I think that I owe this to Lao people and their history.

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