North Of The Golden Triangle - Following The Mekong From Huay Xai To Xieng Kok

Shane B

Active Member
Mar 8, 2019
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33
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Huay Xai to Xieng Kok - Laos May 2019

There's a great ride heading north from the Golden Triangle on the Lao side.

I had been to the Golden Triangle a few times on the Thai side and have read about some of its stories. This is the area where the borders of Thailand, Laos and Myanmar meet along the banks of the Mekong. It is a region which is steeped in a dubious history. These days the Thai side is a fairly well trodden tourist attraction, but I had often wondered what's on the Lao side...

Commencing at the Thai/Lao border town of Huay Xai I followed the Mekong river north. The river forms the Lao/Myanmar border and the trail finishes at the border town of Xieng Kok. This route doesn't get much traffic at all and reckon I could count on one hand the amount of other vehicles I passed on the trail after the “special economic zone”.

Initially the ride commences on a pleasant paved road until the town of Kampok. The road turns into a dirt road after that. Then, tracing the banks of the Mekong, the trail offers great riding and epic views.


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The drive to the Kings Roman complex was pretty chilled with some decent scenery along the way.


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There is a huge amount of construction going on at Kings Roman Casino and the surrounding Kampok city.

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After a quick stop for a tiger burger and a few photos I pressed on.


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This is a view of the Golden Triangle from the Lao side. The pic below was taken at Lao immigration for those wishing to take the boat trip from Thailand visit the casino on the Lao side.

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View from a temple on a hilltop just outside Kampok city.

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The building on the far side of the river is the dilapidated Paradise casino on the Myanmar side of the Golden Triangle.

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The road is decently graded for a good few kilometers and it offers stunning views as it traces the banks of the Mekong.

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A few water crossings just to keep it interesting.


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A slow boat heading up the river filled with pigs.

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Quite a lot of banana plantations along the way.


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As well as the usual slow boats there were some other more upscale vessels too...


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Some lovely rolling tracks with fantastic views.


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The last water crossing before getting back on a paved road leading to the town of Xieng Kok.

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After arriving at Xieng Kok I decided to check out the Lao Myanmar friendship bridge. Nice ride down there but not much going on by way of traffic. The bridge looks pretty cool tho.


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This sign has certainly lost some of its shine.... and letters..


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The bridge itself was a pretty impressive structure. Connecting the middle of nowhere in Myanmar to the middle of nowhere in Laos. I didn't see any traffic or much activity at all for that matter.


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A very large petrol station near the friendship bridge. It wasn't open for business though.


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Xieng Kok is the last stop on the river before China. It is nicely situated along the banks of the Mekong with views of the Myanmar mountains.

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Xieng Kok certainly isn't the most endearing of towns. Its a small rough and tumble border town and being the only falang in the village I initially got a bit of a weird vibe. It isn't like your usual friendly Lao rural towns. However I did manage to make a few boozing buddies for the night. I stayed at a Chinese trucker motel and after a few initial surprised looks on their face to see a foreigner there, they were quick to invite me over for a drinking session.


The main guesthouse that was recommended called the Xieng Kok Resort seems to have decided to pack it in for good.

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I had my dinner at this fine establishment.

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Beautiful Mekong sunsets.

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Overall this route was more about the ride than the destination. It was a nice chilled out ride of about 150k dirt along the banks of the river. Beautiful tracks with epic scenery the whole way. I would definitely recommend this for anyone wanting to get off the beaten track on their way to northern Lao.
 

DavidFL

Administrator
Staff member
Jan 16, 2003
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Chiang Khong
www.thegtrider.com
Nice one. It looks as if you lucked out with the road conditions too - pretty much perfect all the way by the looks of it.

And it looks like they are working on the road by the looks of this pic
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How much asphalt was there before Xieng Kok?

I agree that Xieng Kok really is one of those out of the way places that generally doesn't give off a good welcoming vibe. I've been out there a couple of times & thinking I might stay a night, but you never felt that comfortable; and it's very unusual for me to feel like that.
Xieng Kok has actually had a bit of a chequered history to confirm its status.

Help Us Find Ryan Chicovsky: May 2006
Ryan went for an early morning walk & never came back it seems. Vanished!
After speaking to his Mum who was investigating, people in Xieng Kok knew, he was seen, but no one would talk.

Mentioned on GTR here
Muang Sing, to where Laos, Myanmar, and China meet. The Green Triangle.

Here's another great report for that area that might inspire you too
The Curse of the Hill Tribe Women.........

Good luck & keep the reports coming. We love them. Great info.
 

Shane B

Active Member
Mar 8, 2019
25
33
13
Nice one. It looks as if you lucked out with the road conditions too - pretty much perfect all the way by the looks of it.

And it looks like they are working on the road by the looks of this pic
View attachment 130779

How much asphalt was there before Xieng Kok?

I agree that Xieng Kok really is one of those out of the way places that generally doesn't give off a good welcoming vibe. I've been out there a couple of times & thinking I might stay a night, but you never felt that comfortable; and it's very unusual for me to feel like that.
Xieng Kok has actually had a bit of a chequered history to confirm its status.

Help Us Find Ryan Chicovsky: May 2006
Ryan went for an early morning walk & never came back it seems. Vanished!
After speaking to his Mum who was investigating, people in Xieng Kok knew, he was seen, but no one would talk.

Mentioned on GTR here
Muang Sing, to where Laos, Myanmar, and China meet. The Green Triangle.

Here's another great report for that area that might inspire you too
The Curse of the Hill Tribe Women.........

Good luck & keep the reports coming. We love them. Great info.


Yep, I was very lucky with the conditions that day. It was very easy.

There's quite a bit of work going on outside Kampok city heading north. I can remember exactly how much was like the above picture, perhaps 30km,

None of the road was paved before hitting the main road to Xieng Kok from Muang Sing. The below pic was only a few clicks out from the town.
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I read about that poor chap that went missing. I believe I even read that link above. Very unfortunate indeed.

I'll have a good look through the rest of the links for more adventuring inspiration :)
 

Heineken

Ol'Timer
Mar 2, 2019
129
178
43
Awesome report Shane, thanks for taking the time to post, you're a good photographer btw


Obviously looks like a Chinese Boat in this photo, it looks out of place on the Mekong :)

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Last edited by a moderator:

Andrew

Member
Dec 25, 2016
20
9
3
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Australia
Nice run down on the ride you took,must try to get over there when I’m up in Asia next. Last time I was up there in the Goldern Triangle the casino was just starting to be built. Great pic’s
 

Shane B

Active Member
Mar 8, 2019
25
33
13
Awesome report Shane, thanks for taking the time to post, you're a good photographer btw


Obviously looks like a Chinese Boat in this photo, it looks out of place on the Mekong :)

View attachment 130885

Cheers mate. Yep it was a Chinese boat flying the flags of China, Myanmar and Laos. Looked slightly out of place compared to the wooden slow boats filled with pigs lol
 

Shane B

Active Member
Mar 8, 2019
25
33
13
Nice run down on the ride you took,must try to get over there when I’m up in Asia next. Last time I was up there in the Goldern Triangle the casino was just starting to be built. Great pic’s

Cheers mate. Yep its definitely worth tagging onto a trip in that direction.
 

Moto-Rex

Moderator
Jan 5, 2008
934
272
63
Great report Shane.

The landscape of Laos looks to be changing at a rapid rate.

This is incredible.
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Great shot.
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Thanks for the update on this track, and the strange town of Xieng Kok.

Moto-Rex
 

Eoin Christie

Ol'Timer
Jul 16, 2019
335
166
43
Thanks for a great report on a great ride, Shane. I’m planning on heading over there in October. Last time I was in Xiengkok was ~2004, with my young family and an inflatable kayak in tow. I had been thinking of going North from Houayxai via Meung (2023), but would prefer to take your Mekong ‘boulevarde’ route.
It is a shame (to me) to see the concrete developments that seem to be appearing everywhere, but then again, I’m not a subsistence farmer, keen for any opportunity for additional income or promised future.
You’ve given me some inspiration for the ride I hope lies ahead, Shane (which is an achievement in itself, as I’m reading your report at 04:30 in a Northern province of Angola).
 

Shane B

Active Member
Mar 8, 2019
25
33
13
Thanks for a great report on a great ride, Shane. I’m planning on heading over there in October. Last time I was in Xiengkok was ~2004, with my young family and an inflatable kayak in tow. I had been thinking of going North from Houayxai via Meung (2023), but would prefer to take your Mekong ‘boulevarde’ route.
It is a shame (to me) to see the concrete developments that seem to be appearing everywhere, but then again, I’m not a subsistence farmer, keen for any opportunity for additional income or promised future.
You’ve given me some inspiration for the ride I hope lies ahead, Shane (which is an achievement in itself, as I’m reading your report at 04:30 in a Northern province of Angola).

Hi Eoin,

The Mekong "boulevarde" is definitely a cool route. The following day you can ride from Muang Long to Vieng Phu Kha. That's pretty much untouched. Zero development going on there. Just a rough dirt road crossing the mountains in the middle of nowhere. Pretty cool.
 

Eoin Christie

Ol'Timer
Jul 16, 2019
335
166
43
Excellent! Thank you, Shane. You’ve got me drawing up plans in my room (knowing full well that I never manage to stick to my plans, and always find tangents along the way).
Xiengkok fascinated me when we went there 15 years ago - a quiet, but somehow powerful little crossroad.
 

Eoin Christie

Ol'Timer
Jul 16, 2019
335
166
43
Rode up there yesterday...
Running In...
Kampok City was an eyesore, happily bypassed. I would say that about 30km North of Kampok is now sealed (with various surfaces).
There had been a fair bit of rain, so the 1st ford with the bridge was not passable (at least on my bike) - I got my money’s worth out of the bridge.
The last 20km before the Muang Long / Xiengkok road was badly cut up (at least for a road bike), with water sitting on every left bend.
 

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