Central Laos trip suggestion?

Discussion in 'Laos - General Discussion Forum' started by rothery, Jul 2, 2009.

  1. I was originally planning to ride from Huay Xai to Vientiane, but now I am going to do the north of Laos with a friend. Then I will have a week, beginning in Vientiane, to go anywhere and do anything. I've read a lot of reports here but none of them give me a route I'd really like to do- though have been great in other areas.

    This will be in August- are there any (easy to medium difficulty) "dirt" roads in Central Laos that are still rideable during the wet?

    Right now I only know I want to visit "Tham Kong Lo". My Lonely Planet book for Laos talks about a Central Laos loop that sounds interesting, but I would like your thoughts (is it even doable in the wet season?):

    -From Tha Khaek head east on 12 (visiting caves and swimming spots)
    -Head north on 8B (eight-b). Then after 16km you pass the route 12 turn-off to Vientiane and then pass the camp for the NT2 dam before reaching Nyommalat.
    -6kms further on up a bumpy road, at the top of a hill the road splits at a busy village called Ban Oudomsouk- go straight for 3kms and then you will reach Nakai and then Ban Tha Long.
    -17kms on to Lak Sao
    -Take route 8 from Lak Sao to Ban Khoun Kham (from where I can check out the river that runs through the cave- Tham Kong Lo.
    -From Ban Khoun Kham I can go back to Tha Khaek and then head on the 13 back to Vientiane.

    Any thoughts, links etc would be appreciated.

    Thank you!!
  2. Tham Khong Lor is best done in the dry season as there is a river which runs through the cave. In the dry season you can take a boat trip through the cave to the other end and then return back the same way. Not sure if it can be done in the rainy season but personally I would not do it although the guides seem to know what they are doing.

    Best is to contact Jim-Oi, as he is the one who knows best the conditions in Laos. However, he is away at the moment and may not have time to look at his email.

    The loop is normally a two day trip and most people start in Thakheak, heading east along highway 12 which has various caves which you can visit. Highway 12 is now asphalt so no problem.

    At Gnommalath (near the NT II basecamp) you turn north which is also asphalt up to the new hydro power station and the road then turns to hard packed dirt (maybe now also asphalt) till the reservoir. There is a new road along the reservoir (hard packed dirt) although the last part may be a bit muddy.


    Once you get to the old road, the conditions may be difficult in some places but in general you should not encounter to much problems till Lak Xao where you can stay the night.

    You may consider a small side trip to new dam site (turnoff to the west from the old road - this side road is asphalted up to the dam). This picture shows the view to the north just before the dam site.


    The next day you can go to the Kong Lor Cave to have a look if it is possible to go through by boat, take in the sights of the "stone forest" on the south side of Rd 8 and then head back to Thakheak or Vientiane with all roads being asphalt.

    Close to Ban Na Hin (Khoun Kam) there are some waterfalls which may be of interest. For these you better go with a guide.

    Attached Files:

  3. Thanks for the help. You said should probably be 2 days- probably 3 for me as I like to relax and take photos a little too much. Any other detours or suggestions nearby that could add one or two more days on the trip?

    Is Savannakhet too far away? I will leave Vientiane on the 24th of August and need to return on the 28th, so that gives me about 5 days.

    I really appreciate your help. Now just need to get a Laos map for my phone's GPS!

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