Laos motorbike questions

Discussion in 'Laos - General Discussion Forum' started by Greggg, Nov 29, 2011.

  1. Hi,
    I'm new here and would appreciate any advice or suggestions. I've spent several hours reading through the GT website so hopefully I won't ask too many dumb questions.
    First about me:
    I've been traveling for 2-3 months every year around SE Asia, mostly Thailand and Bali,but also all the surrounding countries, for about 8 years now.Just 3 years ago I decided to throw caution to the wind and rent a motorbike,something I've never tried before. I now can't imagine traveling around this part of the world without one. Last year I took 2 week long road trips, Mae Hong Son Loop and Chiang Mai- Mae Sariang-Mae Sot-Sukhothai-CM.Those 2 weeks were the highlight of my 3 months travel. I know some might look down on using a small motorbike as opposed to a full size motor cycle, but it's what I'm comfortable with and even though some people advised against using a motorbike for the 2 trips I did last year,I had no problems and for the time being see no need to move up to a bigger bike.
    So now my questions:
    I have about a week of my schedule to fill in mid January and have decided on going to either Laos or Cambodia. I've read some negative comments about renting in Cambodia including difficulties with police. So I'm leaning towards going to laos, but am still open to Cambodia if anyone wants to weigh in on the pluses or minuses of either.
    Assuming I go to Laos, I will most likely start in Luang Prabang.
    Is it possible to rent a motorbike there?
    I found links through this forum for 2 rental shops.The Jim Oi link took me to an "Error" page. The other, "Jules", sounds like I would have to pre-arrange a motorbike to be sent to LP from Vientiane.And actually, looking at the website, they might not even rent motorbikes. Only larger bikes. Is there any shop in LP that rents motorbikes right there?
    If not, is there another town which I could get to by bus where I could rent?
    What are the license requirements for Laos? Insurance?
    What would be a good route for 5-6 days starting and ending in LP? ( I could also possibly start in LP and end in Vientiane).

    Later in Jan/Feb I'm doing a week From Udon Thani and another week north of Chiang Mai to Laos border.
    I appreciate any advice.Thanks!
  2. Gregg -

    Distances can be quite long in both Laos and Cambodia so a bigger bike would indeed be more comfortable for most. If i had to single out two things: Laos has the landscape going for it, Cambodia the adventure. If you wish to stay on paved road, the roads in Cambodia tend to be busier (and less relaxing) than most in Laos.

    Let me just throw North Vietnam in the mix for you as well, which is covered in a giant maze of paved little roads through mountainous area, which can be perfectly covered with smaller bikes.

    If you are looking to rent just a honda dream or so, then that should be fairly easy in LPB (or VTE for that matter) with any hotel or local travel agency on the spot.
  3. Hi,

    The first time I ever rode in Laos.. We rented some Honda Waves via the Guest House in Luang Prabang. You will need to ask around and they will arrange something for you.

    Then basically did one big loop..Down the 13, turn left to Phonsavan at Phou Khoun.. Lovely roads all the way and twisty until you get to the Plain of Jars area.. You can ride the honda wave around the plain of jars area off road to see the sites. (They also rent scooters here and some bigger bikes here).. Then up towards Vieng (also spelt Viang Thong) Thong, then on to Nong Khiau... Then back to Luang Prabang..

    Make sure you leave early so you don't get stuck sleeping in Phou Khoun.. This is just a trucking transit town. The rooms where we stayed did not have clean sheets and it was pretty yuck.. Get to Phonsavan before night fall and enjoy this area.

    Just do a little research as to the areas you would like to see and possible accomodation options.

    The Honda Waves are pretty under powered on these mountainous roads.. so it takes time and passing a truck or other large vehicle can be dangerous as you don't have much power to over take before the next bend..

    All very doable and we enjoyed it.. This trip was the catalyst for me buying my first bike in Bangkok and now I have a KLX too.. for Laos and off road trips..

    A week is enough time to do this and mostly paved roads and very enjoyable. Just get up early and leave early for the longer days riding.

  4. Thank you Axel and Brian for your advice. I've decided on Laos for sure. I welcome any additional route suggestions. What about insurance when renting in Laos. Thanks.
  5. If you want insurance you will need to rent a proper bike. Check out Jim. Remote Asia Travel.

    Otherwise you wont get insurance with the Honda Wave from the Guest house.

    Suggest you invest in the GT-Rider Map / Gecko Map.

    Also, check that your travel insurance policy covers riding a bike.. Most do, but if you ride around with out a helmet and have an accident you will not be insured. We are mostly tempted to do this when in the town and heading for dinner or having a quick look around for 5 or 10 mins..
  6. Some companies here do offer insurance on the smaller Honda Waves - if not there is at least one shop here where you can buy it - bought a new Wave for my daughter this year and the Insurance was only $20 for the year - I would recommend you get some just in case - dont forget if you do have an accident its likely to be your fault!!

    Yes it will be underpowered on the hill roads around northern Laos - and you will have problems overtaking which makes things more dangerous - but if you have the time I think slow is a great way to see the country.

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