Ride from Salavan to Plin.

Discussion in 'Laos Road Trip Reports' started by Moto-Rex, Dec 18, 2011.

  1. Salavan to Plin December 2011.

    Just looking at this track on the GT-Rider Laos map has made me want to ride it for a while, so as I was in the area recently I thought Id give it a go.

    The terrain starts off like a desert, dry, dusty, and think bull dust, and ends up turning into lush jungle, so thick at times it was like riding in a cave, were there was a lot of first and second gear riding.

    I tried out the GoPro camera, and have add two videos at the bottom.

    One of the first little towns north of Salavan were I had breakfast that consisted of a can of Birdy (coffee drink) and a packet of potato chips.


    While eating my healthy breakfast, six old local guys turned up to look at the KLX. It was about 9am and they were all drunk as skunks.

    Didn't take long to work out why. They sell Lao Kao by the 30 litre container here.


    First river crossing for the day, and first river crossing since a canoe, a KLX, and a rider all ended up in the drink 2 weeks ago.


    There was a bridge, but it was out of order because it was destroyed in 1968 after being bombed.

    It was a big wide river, but I reckon you ride across it OK. I didn't want to get my boots wet checking the depth, so I waited for the ferry to float across and take me to the other side. To early in the day for wet socks.

    Kind of airy floating past what's left of the bridge, which must have been a ripper in its day.

    Made to the other side nice and dry thanks to the Skipper and his little buddy.


    I must have crossed 30 of these bridges. This one is in need of handyman.

    The local gas station. 91, 95, 98, 102?? who cares.

    Its dry and barren at first, with lots of bull bust. It was like outback Australia with no kangaroos.

    The road south of Toumlan.

    After Toumlan you start to see some vegetation, with plenty of shade.


    Slowly the vegetation thickens.


    No more wooden bridges, just pretty of small creeks at the bottom of steep little valleys..


    Arrived at the last big river crossing, were there another bridge out of order.



    I walked up to were the bridge once started,and you can see whats left of it through the bamboo.

    I looked for about one hour to try and find away across, and had almost given up, luckily I came across a some guys in a pick up. I thought there was no way they could have come through the same way as me, and there must be a ferry some were. So I flagged them down and it worked out they were also going to Plin, and they told me to follow them to the ferry. It was a maze of tracks and I wouldn't have never have found the crossing without them.

    The crossing and ferry all looked new. Theres also a smaller ferry down stream but I couldn't find the landing.

    The road to plin from the crossing is 36kms, and this is what it looks like.

    Here's two videos. My first time posting a video, and first time using the camera on a tracks like this one. I attached to the bike and started filming once I got out of the more dense jungle, because I thought it would have been to dark, and the the bamboo etc would have just kept hitting the camera. You should see the scratches on the top of my helmet.


    Edited:video links
  2. Thank you Moto-Rex for this interesting report, with nice pictures and « dancing » videos (I love the shadow driving!).

    Unfortunately, I have no chance that I follow your trail :( The well paved 20 and a shaking Bolaven shortcut were enough for my ER6. It's great, at least, to have still and animated pictures.
  3. The remoteness & isolation of the places visited by you is what, for me, makes your posts amongst the best on the site.
    Keep it up, its inspiring stuff.
  4. Nice one Rex..

  5. Great trip report.I plan to be in Laos this February.It is such a great country to explore on bike.Just hope to find proper wheels for my bike first.
  6. Hi Rex

    Not sure what was wrong with the video links, I had a tweak yesterday and was puzzled by it. Usually, its just a matter of using the Video Embed icon in the editor, and pasting the YouTube URL in the input box... Seems ok today.

    I can only echo the previous comments - great photos!!! That's got to have a few people thinking about going riding... :) Drinking beer and biking seems like a great way to complete the year.

  7. Riper report Rex. You're certainly out there enjoying yourself.
  8. Thank you Motorex for an inspiring report and a recent advice on Laos' trails. Your work is an inspiration to dirt riders.

    Best regards,
  9. Hi motorex,
    after watching the videos,I can tell you that road is tougher than when I did it in 2006! more erosion,stones!but still remote,definetly a great ride!where next!
  10. Gday Jerome.

    Was good to catch up with you for a couples of beers a few weeks ago.
    Ill be up your way again soon on my way back north. I didnt have your correct phone number after all.

  11. Howdy Rex; I'm a cyclist (yes, poor cousin to you blokes) & in the midst of planning my next trip in Feb. Am considering coming down Vietnam from Hanoi & entering Lao on Route 9E & then if possible taking Route 23 South to Salavan which I assume is the ride you have just done! Is this road possible on a mountain bike & if so how far is it from Phin to Salavan & is there any accom food/drink sources en-route?
    Thanks in anticipation,

  12. Gday Stacky.
    Sorry for slow response, Ive been out riding. I do a bit of MTB riding when in oz, and I reckon it’s possible to ride hwy23, it will just take a little longer. The first 36km from Plin the first river crossing is smooth and easy, as in the last photo. You could probably get a lift to this point to save time if you wanted too.
    The next 50km your pretty much on your own, I don’t recall seeing any available food or drink, and you will be doing a lot of walking through this part.
    Once you hit Toumian it’s about 50km to Salavan. There’s drinks available on this stretch.
    There is no accommodation between Plin and Salavan.

    Hope this helps.

  13. Thanks for that Rex, I'm still keen! 136km on dirt with lots of pushing is probably too much for me in one day though. Is Toumian a reasonable size town;hopefully I'll be able to knock on a door & get put up for the night (I've done this before in Lao); what do u think?
    After the 1st river crossing, the 50km to Toumian u say will need a lot of walking; roughly how much walking; 2 or 3km would be no dramas but if it was 20 or so km it would be a drama; what's your thoughts?

    Thanks again Rex,

  14. One day is out of the question. I’d say maybe three. The 50km stretch you would have to walk at least half I’d say. The two videos above were filmed after the more difficult section. When I said it could be done, I should have said, it could be done, but it would be an epic task. Sorry mate, I should have made myself more clear.
  15. Thanx again Rex; sounds too hard, will probably continue further down Vietnam & cross into Lao via Attapeu.


  16. Good one Rex certainly KLX country. I am back in Laos next week but will be keeping the V Strom on tarmac.

  17. Moto-Rex, thanks for this comprehensive piece of professional update. One question; are all creeks/rivers crossable with a 4x4 Hi-Rider, i.e. either passable or ferry able to traverse 1'600kgs? Thanks - Peter
  18. Hi Ticino.

    Im sure there would be no way a 4x4 would be able to made it through.
    The rivers are not the problem, the first one south of Plin has the big ferry, and the big crossing to the south with no car ferry, you can avoid by taking the other road to Toumian. The track as I rode it that day, would be to narrow for a 4x4, as there was a lot of first gear single track through hand cut jungle.

  19. Hey Rex, great description of your trip!

    Just wondering if you knew anything about crossing from Viet into Laos from Na Meo. I have a 110 win, Viet registration and plates. You know if it is easy to do?
  20. Thanks Moto-Rex. So the criteria is the width not the tarmac and/or rivers. I'm asking as I have a pending mandate for a TV crew doing the HCMC trail for the umptieth time. In the past I took them from Dao Savan via Savannakhet Paske, Paksong to finally Attapeu; the Salavan-Plin would be a fantastic short cut with plenty of excitement for the TV boys and girls.
    Is there anyone else reading this with a route alternative; I'm (almost) sure that there must have been a tarmac from Plin to Salavan. But as things stand I assume that Moto-Rex' report covers said route which meanwhile is just taken back by the jungle :cool:

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