My Southern Laos Motorcycle ride west side of the Mekong River.

Discussion in 'Laos Road Trip Reports' started by Moto-Rex, Apr 29, 2014.

  1. My Southern Laos Motorcycle ride west side of the Mekong.

    I crossed in to Laos from Thailand from Chong Mek without any hassles at all, my only problem was that I was starting a 7000km trip on worn set of tyres, because I assumed that Ubon Kawasaki would have had a couple of tyres in stock. Oh well, Ill just have to nurse them I thought.

    My plan was to spend a month in Laos, starting in Southern Laos west side of the Mekong, because this is a part of Laos I’ve only riding in once before, and that was for only a day, and I wanted to see more.
    That other time was with BrianBkk two years earlier. We rode next to the river, down to Don Khong, and it was mostly single trail where it was green and lush. Brilliant ride.

    As much as I enjoyed that ride, I gave that track a miss this time as I wanted to explore the tracks further west towards the Thai border, and further south to Cambodia.

    Here is a few links of my first trip south with Brian.’s-explore-Southern-Laos

    Also a cool video that Brian put together of our ride down south.

    I didn’t really have a plan, and I didn’t really know where I was going….but I was going.

    In the black box…the first week of my 2014 Laos trip.


    This is most of the tracks/roads I took while in the south. One of the highlights was seeing the Laos/Cambodian friendship bridge.

    Leaving the fun town of Pakxe and heading south to Don Khong.

    Just over the bridge at the bottom of the temple is a group of little restaurants, where you can have breakfast, and full up the camel back before taking off. Just look how clean my bike is..Yes day one.

    I headed along the tar road that runs towards Chong Mek before turning down this dirt road which wasn’t the road I thought it was, …so off to a great start, one turn and lost already.

    Those matrasses would be handy if you had a crash, or got tired.

    Before to long I was on the road I should have been on….I think.


    First pit shop for a drink. Just look at how neatly the merchandise is stacked.

    The bustling town of Dontalat.



    The road from Dontalat to Mounlapamok is in good condition and as straight as a gun barrel.
    Big Bikes could ride from Paxse down to Mounlapmok via Champasak, and cross the river there over to hwy 13, then down to Cambodia without to much trouble. Or loop back up to Pakse.


    The ferry at Mounlapamok/BanVeurnkhaen, I didn’t go across, but took the photo to show anyone that was thinking about it.

    I headed a further 28km south to another ferry, which would take me across the Mighty Mekong to the island of Don Khong, which Im told is number 2535 of the 4000 in this group of islands.
    The road down the this ferry is a nice ride that follows the river as it winds south. Nothing like the gun barrelled hwy to Mounlapamok

    The KLX boarded, and ready for the crossing. Note the Coke bottle on the back. Designed for the motorcycle rider in mind. Great for carrying spare oil, as its shape stops it from sliding off when you strap it down. Plus, it pours without going every where, I carry an extra top with a hole it for oiling the chian.



    Just love these crossings…feels so adventuress.

    On the island, safe and dry, now time for a cool drink by the river before finding some where to stay.

    The main tourist street on the island has plenty of accommodation, and you can get a good room for about 80,000 kip.

    All the restaurants, and most hotels, have great views of the river.



    These islands are beautiful, but I do find them a little too quiet for my liking, but I still decided to stay a extra night so as to spend a day riding around the island. Last time I stayed here with Brian we arrived just on dark, and left first thing in the morning so I didn’t see much…we were on a mission, and had no time for relaxing.


    I couldn’t believe my eyes when I came across this bridge under construction.

    This has to be over kill. Its located at the bottom of the island, and will connect to hwy 13.
    Maybe they will build another one on the other side of the island giving then easier access to Thailand from the very south ? Just seems too big for a tiny little island.

    This is what almost all the island looks like away from the river.

    Dusty old town on the west side of the island.

    One of the many temples on the island.



    Nice spot for a drink after checking out the island. At this stage I was thinking its going to be another less than exciting night, where the lights were out at 9pm. But then I heard someone playing the drums, so I went for a look.

    Not one, but two stages had been set up,…and by looking at those speakers I knew it wasn’t going to be a quiet night.

    The official Beer Lao transporter, full of the nectar of the gods. Just look at those Eskys.

    I went back after a few sunset beers down the road/river, and the festival was in full swing.


    This stage was for the grown ups, where hot girls, load music and smoke entertained the Beer Lao drinking public.

    Problem was it was a big Buddha day, and the only way you use the tables and chairs was to buy some beer, so except for a hand full of die hard drinkers, the furniture was left empty, and everyone else stood up the back. ..My god it was loud.

    The family friendly stage was the big draw card….also super loud.


    It was all good fun till the farang start winning all the teddy bears

    This woman went from fruit seller, to fruit and teddy bear seller thanks to the farang supplier.

    Next day I was feeling a little second hand…yes my friends…the beer god was making a statement.
    I sat by the river nursing a cup of coffee, and watching the river life unfold. Couldn’t help thinking that bridge was going to stuff this place up good and proper.



    It was time to leave the island, so down to river bank I rode to where a boat was waiting.


    The main land, and a big days ride ahead.

    Once off the boat I headed south following the river towards Cambodia. Great riding along this section with quant villages and palm trees.

    It wasn’t to long before I came to a dead end. This is as far south as you can go in Laos, on the west side of the Mekong. Straight ahead is Cambodia, and to the left is Laos.
    You can get a boat to Don Khong from here as well. But you need to take 2 boats, and I’m not so sure you can rely on a boat being available.

    Back on the road and heading north.


    One of the Lao’s true adventure riders…the ice cream man. He hit the jackpot when I stopped.





    Once back at Mounlapamok I rode west to Ban Nong Gaa. This road was one of those roads that you had the stand up all the way. No good for a lazy rider like myself. There was woops and potholes all the way.

    The petrol outlet in Ban Nong Gaa.

    From Ban Nong Gaa, I would rode about seventy kilometres south west to the Cambodian border, and the Laos/Cambodian friendship bridge. The Emerald Triangle, the point where Cambodia, Laos and Thailand meet, is only 2 kilometres from the bridge.

    ………......................….TO BE CONTINUED…......................………
  2. A month in Laos Rex, Brilliant ! ... I can only dream of such a trip at the moment ;)

    I'm certainly no expert but that Bridge looks like it could have 2 levels !?

    anyway, looking forward to the rest of the trip reports. keep em coming
  3. Brilliant Rex. Another adventure and this looks like its going to be a cracker. Keep it coming.
  4. What a little ripper of a report Rex.


    Looks like a fun time going where most don't even consider to visit.
    James and I spent a fair few days trying to see if we could bust through the border from the Thai side last rainy season.

    Closest we made it was about 200 metres from the border according to the GPS, on a hiking / smugglers trail.

    That bridge is amazing..

    Great pics as usual.. Looking forward to the next instalment

    The south is my favourite part of Laos..
    You have it all.. Mekong, Boolaven Plateau, Mountains along the HCM trail..

  5. Yeah this is looking like another brilliant Moto-Rex report ride & report alright - to the far flung corners of Lao yet again.

    Re that bridge..

  6. Part two.

    Laos-Cambodian friendship bridge, Emerald Triangle, Champasak, Vatphu, Border market.

    The Cambodian/Laos border
    The most laid back immigration /customs/ army / check point I’ve ever come across.

    Just past the customs buildings was a single trail. I ask them where it went, and they said Cambodia.
    I ask if I could check it out, and they said no worries but they would have to accompany me.
    At this point I was only 2 kms from the Emerald Triangle.

    A short walk and there was the border, and of course, the Laos/Cambodian friendship bridge.

    After marvelling at the grand structure, we walked back to the KLX where the border guard took a few selfies with me and my bike, then I was on my way back to Ban Nong gaa.

    I wanted to ride north from Ban Nong Gaa to Hieng, but after spending a lot of time trying to find the track I gave up. There was tracks going every where, so as it was getting late, and as well as being unprepared, I deciding cold beers by the Mekong, and a warm bed was far better than a night in the jungle, so I headed back to Mounlapamok, and then north to Champasak where I stayed the next two nights.

    In Ban Nong Gaa and waiting for a refill.

    I just love the old French buildings in Champasak. This one could do with a coat of paint.


    Next morning I rode out to The Ancient City of Vatphu.

    It’s a fair walk to the top, so it was lucky there was a little shop to get a drink.


    I gotta say I was pretty impressed with this place,..sure its no Ankor Wat, but its definitely worth a look.




    You mean I carried a chain saw all this way for nothing.



    After looking around for a few hours I got a feed and a drink at one of the many little restaurants near the entrance, before heading back into Champasak for a few quite beers by the river.

    Next morning I rode south to the road that heads west to Hiang. That road is like something you would find in outback Australia.

    West of Hiang the road became narrow, dusty, and full of traffic as I rode towards the Laos-Thailand border.

    It works out that at this border crossing there’s a big market, and to get past this gate there’s a 2000 kip fee.


    Cigarettes and Alcohol made up for most of the stalls. This just a small stall, there was some big ones that werenot so camera friendly.

    The path that leads to Thailand. Just to my right was a few army guys, that told me not to take photos of this part of the market.

    The market had a party/picnic feel with plenty of food and music. And the GT-Rider had rock star status, with people wanting there photos taken with the dusty old KLX rider lol.

    A couple of lovely ladies smiling for the camera.

    Genuine soccer shirts were also a big seller.


    Smokes and Whiskey may have had the biggest volume in sales, but these little critters wouldn’t have been far behind. There must have been 20 stalls selling these things. You could buy them dead and looking like road kill, or alive making them to cute to eat.


    After a couple of hours looking at what was a very interesting market, I rode back to Hiang, of muddy streets.

    From Hiang I headed north towards Pakxe.

    The road to Pakxe is pretty much like this all the way.



    Back in Pakxe, after a good few days riding in the south… this wasn’t to be the end of the southern Laos ride.

    I was going to stay one night, and start heading North the next day, but looking at the tracks I had ridden on my computer, I knew I couldn’t leave without riding the last piece of the jigsaw, and that was the track that goes from Hiang to Ban Nong Gaa.

    ……………......................…….TO BE CONTINUED………........................………
  7. Excellent are feeding my lust to get the kfuc out of Australia and get over there!
  8. Fantastic as always Rex! Looking forward to the next chapter! :clap:
  9. "A short walk and there was the border, and of course, the Laos/Cambodian friendship bridge."

    You had a few of us going there for a minute Rex.. LOL.
    Lao - Cambo friendship bridge indeed.

    But you did have an escort at least to get over..

  10. Thanks Poompui. Roaming around the back blocks of Laos on a motorcycle is certainly a nice past time.

    Hey Brian, what's so funny? This is the Cambodian-Laos friendship bridge.
    I took the photo about 5 metres from the bridge, then began to walk further towards the bridge to get a shot of myself on it, but was told not to go any closer by the Lao guys.

    Maybe behind the trees there were trigger happy Cambodians just waiting for an unsuspecting KLX rider to venture across the bridge.

    I did see on the road while heading south, a few of those small tractors carrying timber. Only one or two pieces, and I guessed it was Lao timber going through back door into Thailand or Cambodia. Apart from them, you see no one down there.

    Cheers Moto-Rex
  11. Southern Laos Motorcycle ride. Part 3.

    Pakxe to Ban Nong Gaa via Hiang.

    It was an early and slow start for the KLX and its rider as we headed south back down the dusty road towards Hiang. The late night before in Pakxe had left me some what second hand, as those innocent sunset beers in the music bars by the Mekong have a tendency to trap motorcycle riders like a snowboarder in an avalanche.

    Still it was a great ride down to Hiang as it was crisp sunny morning, and the KLX was purring like a 747.

    Once I got to Hiang I kept riding south towards my intended destination of Ban Nong Gaa.

    About one kilometre south of Hiang I came across this bogged truck.


    This truck wasn’t going any where. Funny thing was that underneath the tray was a small boy about 8 years old digging out the mud in front of the wheels. Not so funny for him.


    Nice through here.

    The mud soon give way to endless kilometres of sand.

    Slow going in this stuff.

    The small town of Ban Houei Xai about 5 kms as the crow fly’s from Ban Nong gaa, but it was to be a long five kilometres by bike.

    No worries only 5 kilometres down the road to Ban Nong Gaa……Pigs Arsse.

    Just south of Ban Houei Xai tracks went everywhere, and there seemed to be no real main track.
    I spotted a couple of motorbikes so I followed them as they were heading in what looked to be the right direction, which wasn’t the case.


    I tried a few more tracks and finally found one that widened, which appeared to be the main track.

    This part of Laos must come to a complete stand still in the wet months.

    Nice single trail through here.

    In the end I made it to Ban Nong gaa after a really good ride, with deep sand, roads that turned in rivers, a bit fast stuff, and a few single trails.
    Form there I rode east to the river, and then rode the main road back up to Champasak for a night.

    I love this great little restaurant in Champasak called “Champasak with love”

    It has a big deck by the river with a big tree in the middle and also a swing.

    I reckon the view at this part of the Mekong is the most impressive.

    The swing is a great idea, but I found it difficult to eat my eggs on toast in the morning, and the coffee went everywhere.

    So that’s about it, my Southern Laos motorcycle ride west side of the Mighty Mekong had come to an end. What a beautiful part of the world this is.
    The next day I left Champasak, and headed north to Salavan, where the soothing sounds of Karaoke echo in the cool still night air of Laos, before riding further north.


  12. You da man Rex! Great report Buddy :)
  13. Nice one Rexy..

    Why is it so wet down there? Was it the dry season proper ?

  14. Hell this is an exciting report alright.

    1. The Khong.
    2. The Emerald Triangle
    3. The Lao - Cambodian Friendship bridge - & I must admit you had me wondering what where this was going to be - a great story.
    4. Vat Phu

    I loved the market pics out there - you can bet not too many westerners have been out there. It's a dodgy area for smuggling - drugs, wildlife, timber - alright, so I'm not surprised they didn't like you take any photos.

    Across the border on the Thai side in 2002
    On the Lao side in 2002
    These pics won me over

    The international Lao - Cambodian friendship bridge


    Vat Phu always stunning


    A trail & a half

    I recall trying something like that on my Africa Twin in Champasak several years ago & wisely turned around before it got dark.

    The beauty of the Mekong at Champasak

    unlimited fresh air, no traffic. Timeless serenity. I want to go back!

    Thanks for the report. Another Rex Ripper. :clap:

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