Riding in Laos in Jan 2008

Discussion in 'Laos Road Trip Reports' started by adventourers, Aug 30, 2007.

  1. Hi David and all adventurous riders,

    I was down and out for a short while and back to riding again. The last organised trip to Laos, I was turned back due to immigration issue. Luckily the rest of the gang went thru and my dear friend Robin wrote a ride report of their experience. The report is as below:

    Link removed

    We are going for a trip to Laos in Jan 2008 for 17 days from Singapore. The tentative planned route is as below. Hope to get some good advises from experience riders who has been that done that. [:D]

    We have about 10 bikes going up for the trip and the only 2 odd bikes are the CB750 and Diversion900, other than that, the rest are 650, 1100, 1150 and 1200 GS. I will be carrying a pillion.


    11st (Fri night) Sin-Hatyai (900 km)
    12nd (Sat) Hatyai (1805 train to Bangkok 0940 next day, Timetable Appendix B)
    13rd (Sun) Bangkok (1800 train to Chiang Mai 0630 next day, Timetable Appendix B)
    14th (Mon) Chiang Mai-Huay Xai (app. 100 km)
    15th (Tue) Huay Xai-Luang Nam Tha (app. 180 km)
    16th (Wed) Luang Nam Tha-Muang Sing-Long-Xieng Kok-Muang Sing-Luang Nam Tha-Boten (app. 340 km)
    17th (Thu) Boten-Udom Xai-Muang La-Sin Xai-Ban Yo-Boun Nua-Phongsali (app.350 km)
    18th (Fri) Phongsali-Boun Na-Ban Yo-Sin Xai—Muang La-Udom Xai-Pak Mong-Luang Prabang (app. 430 km)
    19th (Sat) Luang Prabang
    20th (Sun) Luang Prabang-Pak Xeng-Sam Soun-Vieng Thong-Phou Lao-Suan Hin (The Stone Garden)-Muang Kham-Nam Kanh (app.550 km)
    21st (Mon) Nam Kanh-Muang Kham-Phonsavan-Phou Khoun-Van Vieng-Vientiene (app. 510 km)
    22nd (Tue) Vientiane
    23rd (Wed) Vientiane-Pakxan-Vieng Kham-Khong Lar Cave-Thakhek (app. 460 km)
    24th (Thu) Thakhek-Pakse-Voeun Kham (app. 420 km)
    25th (Fri) Voeun Kham-Pakse-Van Tao-Chong Mek-Bangkok (850 km)
    26th (Sat) Bangkok (train to Hatyai)
    27th (Sun) Hatyai
    28th (Mon) Hatyai to Singapore (app. 900 km)
  2. Looks like to have long daily runs....
    Do you plan to go through China...Muang La and back ?

    Muang Sing/Xieng Kok/Muang Sing...no need, nothing special !

    They are some locations which i do not know even after 15 years in Laos riding all roads and dirt tracks, will be helpfull you spot on some map, GT Rider one which is excellent, the voyage than I could give you some advise.

    Anyway, you are all most welcome to come to relax and enjoy at Papaya Spa, see htp://www.papayaspa.com

    See you

    jean louis
  3. Hi Jean,

    Thanks for the feedback. Thought of going there as the places are laid back and full of the tribals villages and so near the border of China and Myanmar plus the cool wheather?
  4. Hi
    Seems to be a great trip.
    Do you intend to put 10 big bikes on the night trains??
    Better you check in adavance with "Thai Railway" for available space.
    I remember, years ago, I arrived at BKK railway station willing to put my bike on the night train to UBON, a lot of discussion as the cargo was already almost full!

    Be prepared , you will need a special carriage for your bike!

    Good luck
  5. Hi Phillipe,

    Thanks for the advise. Will arrange to book the space in advance as there are many bikes.
  6. Alex
    I think you're plan is overly optimistic, especially
    17th (Thu) Boten-Udom Xai-Muang La-Sin Xai-Ban Yo-Boun Nua-Phongsali (app.350 km)
    18th (Fri) Phongsali-Boun Na-Ban Yo-Sin Xai—Muang La-Udom Xai-Pak Mong-Luang Prabang (app. 430 km)
    19th (Sat) Luang Prabang
    20th (Sun) Luang Prabang-Pak Xeng-Sam Soun-Vieng Thong-Phou Lao-Suan Hin (The Stone Garden)-Muang Kham-Nam Kanh (app.550 km)
    21st (Mon) Nam Kanh-Muang Kham-Phonsavan-Phou Khoun-Van Vieng-Vientiene (app. 510 km)

    You're only rest day is 16th in Luang Prabang. Then it's off again riding all day with no time for rest or photos. Just ride.
    Mornings will more than likely be fogged in until 9.30 am & it will be dark by 5.15 pm.
    You're riding with a largish group (10 bikes), in a foreign country where conditions are not always the best; & when you are aiming for long hours & "long" distances = playing with fire & looking for trouble.
    I don't think you can pull off a program like that without break downs or riders going down. Not a problem with 3 or 4 guys, but with 10 bikes, ouch.

    So my advice is slow down a bit, enjoy the ride & scenery, plan to all get home in one piece & plan to come back again for what you missed.

    If I were to leave out anything, I'd say leave out Phongsali. Its a been there done that sort of place, but would you ride back there again for just another steep & winding Laos road but this one with few hilltribe villages & a night in a shitty quiet town. Probably not is my guess. (But there will be Phongsali fans who disagree - comments please.)
    Whatever I sincerely hope your trip comes off ok.

    Make sure everyone has NEW tyres & NEW brake pads before leaving. No half used stuff, but all NEW! The roads of N Laos will chew up your tyres & brakes!

    Good luck. Take care, ride safe & enjoy. We will be watching out for an exciting trip report, as it is surely going to be exciting & eventful with so much riding.
  7. Hi David,

    Thanks for the reply and advise. The group has been cut down to 7 bikes instead and they are all experience riders (hope that helps).

    Had also changed the itenaries to below but I believe Phongsali is still inside but nevertheless, if the journey to the village and back is not worth it, I could change the plan and spend more time elsewhere. I have also shorten the ride from LPB to Nam Khan by cutting the journey to 2 days. Also, I have plan B in case we could not reach the planned destination before night fall, we will overnight in the nearest village to us before the destination village.

    >Luang Nam Tha-Muang Sing (60 km)-Long (50 km)-Xieng Kok (23 km)-Long (23 km)-Muang Sing (50 km)-Luang Nam Tha-Boten (121 km)-(Total 330 km)
    >Boten-Udom Xai (110 km)-Muang La (26 km)-Sin Xai (36 km)-Ban Yo (110 km)-Boun Nua (21 km)-Phongsali (41 km)-(Total 344 km)
    >Phongsali-Boun Na (41 km)-Ban Yo (21 km)-Sin Xai (110 km)—Muang La (36 km)-Udom Xai (26 km)-Pak Mong (77 km)-Nong Khiaw (21 km)-Vieng Kham (49 km)-(Total 381 km)
    >Vieng Kham-Sam Soun (21 km)-Vieng Thong (94 km)-Phou Lao (59 km)-Suan Hin (see Stone Garden)-Xam Nua (92 km)-Vieng Xai (see Vieng Xai Caves) (27 km)-Xam Nua (27 km)-Phou Lao (92 km)-(Total 412 km)
    >Phou Lao-Muang Kham (95 km)-Phonsavan (see Plains of Jars) (52 km) Phou Khoun (111 km)-Nam Ming (66 km)-Luang Prabang (55 km)-(Total 379 km)
    >Luang Prabang (see Pak Ou Caves, Tat Si Kuang Waterfall & Wat Xieng Thong)
    >Luang Prabang-Vientiane (see Pha Tat Luang) (app. 383 km)
    >Vientiane-Pakxan (130 km)-Vieng Kham (see Khong Lar Cave & Bomb Boat) (89 km)-Lak Xao (100 km)-Nam Phao (22 km)-(Total 341 km)
    >Nam Phao-Lak Xao (22 km)-Vieng Kham (100 km)-Thakhek (103 km)-Pakse (254 km)-(Total 479 km)
    >Pakse (see Wat Phou)-Vouen Kham (see 1000 Islands) (159 km)-Pakse (159 km)-(Total 318 km)

    As for tyres, I manage to get some sort of sponsorship from Pirelle Tyres, so should be new for all. New brakes is a must.

    To ensure that we get a smooth clearance at CIQ in and out, I have also got an official letter to support our Expedition into Laos from Laos Embassy in Singapore just in case we got into trouble from some officials.

    Regards and Thanks...
  8. Hi Alex,

    Looks like a great trip, but I would not like to be tied to the timeframe that you will be on this schedule. Those days are possible if all goes well and you spend most of your time riding. I would be reluctant to place that pressure on myself and the group. As David mentioned there will be things that you will want to check out (such as the Pathet Lao caves in Vieng Xai or the Plain of Jars), not to mention the usual photo opportunities/unplanned things of interest.

    I see that you have a day at the end that could be scrapped if needed, this makes good sense. Maybe you could expand on this idea by not heading to Phongsali or Muang Sing but planning on a side trip in the south which you complete if you keep up with the northern schedule.

    Maybe an extra half day to head south from Lak Xao to Nakai and then Thakhek. Maybe a day trip/loop through the Bolavan Plateau towards the Attapeu area, visiting Tad Fan waterfall on the way.

    The chance of getting behind at the start of your time in Laos and trying to catch up for the rest of the trip doesn't sound like fun. 350kms in Laos can be a long way some days.

    All the best with the trip. Enjoy!
  9. Well these guys must be on the road now.
    I wish them luck & hope they have a good safe trip.
  10. Oops, looks like I'm a month ahead of them.
    January is the trip, not December.
  11. Hi David,

    We are on time for the trip.

    Great development as Channel 8 in Singapore is covering the Expedition and they planned to air the Expedition on TV on Feb 1 at 1030 pm.

    Leaving for Laos on 11st nite at 830 pm from our Storm Riders gathering point at LC Tanjong Katong with the TV crew shooting us and some teams of bikers will be there is bid farewell. Singha Beer on the house for everyone too. When you drink , don't ride or drive as you may kill someone.

    12 pax with 11 bikes, 7 BMWs and 4 Jap Bikes gonna pretend to be a very little bit like Ewan but only such a short distance but what make the trip different is the riders are not young rider being the oldest is 67 years old. Some of the routes are also challenging but my view is doable.

    We will ride through the nite to hatyai vie the NSH estimate about 900 km which will take us 8-9 hours.. Clearance should be abrisk at Sadao. Train tickets has been purchased for us and here we go.

    Oh Yah, the New Paper of Singapore is also following the expedition every 3 days as well as probably Motorculture Magazine too.

    All these for 2 reasons, for the publicity for Singha Beer and for the passion of biking.

    More reports and photos and movies will follow suit as Mediacorp Singapore is t-loaning us a camera to go with. Oh Yah, Performance Motors Singapore and Bangkok has been informed of the trip and is on standby too in case any accidents or breakdowns.

    More reports should be going soon but will only post them after our rides.
  12. 3 Cheers it's happening. Bring it on then you guys. Have fun, ride safe & hope to see you in Chiang Mai, or Laos (Luang Prabang) even!
  13. Thanks David, will probably give you a call when we are in Laos as when we touch down CM, we will be riding for the Laos, LMT.

    Oh yah, change of the route which is now as attached, decided to take a boat down from Hat Sa to Vien Kham and take the tougher route after the Vietnam border overnight. Your remarks written on the map saying River Crossing Often Impassable strike our nerve and seeing a previous group riding across then was quite interesting.

    BTW, I have bought your 10 new Laos maps from Chan M-Technik..

  14. Ouch!
    11 bikes on boatS from Hat Sa - Nong Kwiew. Probably more than 1 day?
    11 bikes Lak Xao - south to Gnommalat with the Nam Theun river. Actually think there might be a bridge there now, but not sure. Maybe JimOi knows & can advise.
    Once again, good luck & don't drop the bikes too many times.
  15. Hi Alex,,,
    All the best to you & your group for the trip.
    Me & my guys are also riding up Loas & Cambodia from 11-27 Jan 08.
    With 10 ppls onboard 6 GS,,will try to endure the ride as most of us are 1st timers to this two countries.

    Maybe we might have a chance to meet up half way up north yeah...
    Once again,,All the best & Ride Safe....

    Yus @ BoGSter
    :D :D :D
  16. A new bridge was being built a year ago and the existing one seemed to be a year around bridge. I don't think there will be any problems this time of the year.

    Here's the new bridge


    or is this it


    This is the old bridge

  17. Hi,

    Thanks...We are all back and recovering from the ride fatigue.

    We are now consolidating all the pixs and movies from all the participants and will update accordingly real soon.

    Below, a shot for the road.


    This is taken in XiengKok Resort after going thru the dirt road with tons of dusts on us and the bikes. The Diversion 900, VFR 800 and Night Hawk 750 done it with no casualty. The dirt bike DR 650 fell on the soft sand. Talking about off-road bikes... :oops:

    A dead quiet place which generator off at 8-9 pm onwards...Noticed that the village has lots of children.. :twisted:

    More to come...
  18. bro,
    nice o hear all of u coming back to spore safely/happy and gain new
    adventure experience... :arrow: :D
  19. Congratulations on completing the trip, and without serious incidents.
    We look forward to the the pix & tales to come...
  20. Hi,

    Departure from Sg on the 11st was a rousing experience with a send off party at our usual gathering place at LC Tanjong Katong. Presence were the Channel 8 videoman, magazine people as well as some supporters from various biker especially Storm Riders.

    We rode off lauded with some noises and escorted by some other bikes.


    The rest of the photos for the set-off on the 11st night is as attached in the below link as there are too many of them to be uploaded here. I had took the liberty to uploaded them into my website for your viewing. It had took me almost 5 days to upload almost all the photos which is about 10 GB size comingfrom 8 photographers. I will be uploading the movies into youtube at the later stage as now, I will be away to Hatyai for New Year Holiday for a week or so and be back only next week.

    I will try my best to write some short excerpts for each day journey to share and hiccups that we could have avoided.

    Some of the links to share...

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/adventoure ... 836931094/

    http://www.bikersinc.com.sg/blog/2008/0 ... other.html

    Enjoy...more stories to come after my holiday for a week in Hatyai and Penang...

    Thanks for all the advises and support.
  21. The ride to Hatyai was smooth and as usual sleepy with 900 km to cover from 11 pm to the next day 8 am on the 12th Jan. When we reached, we immediately ride to the train station to arrange the bikes to be trained up to Chiang Mai. Quite a major problem with having 11 bikes to go at one time but we managed to settled them after some strings and coaxing with some problem that caused us to stay an additional night in BKK. As usual being Adventourers, we found our things to fill up the extra day, some went shopping, massage, etc...

    The journey on the train was fun with free beers from Singha as well as the company of the Adventourers singing and making friend with those around us in the carriage. We did make a lot of noises but we treat them with Singha...

    There are 2 types of train, express with less stops and non express which stops alomost every towns. The group was separated into 2, due to the over booked of train space. Anyway, this should not happen again as we found sme contacts for us to do that in advance. The train is air-con and the water is super cold. Try brushing your teeth in the carriage and you will be shaken all over. And do not shit when the train is stationary.

    The weather gets colder and colder as we travel north towards CMai.

    Sleeping in the 2nd Class was also comfortable with the train rocking us right and left to sleep. Food on the train sucks though by standard of Thai food.

    Photos-12th Jan, Hatyai to BKK:

    Photos-13th Jan, BKK:

    Photos-14th Jan, BKK to Chiang Mai:

    Some of the photos:




  22. can't wait for the rest of this report...

    Thank you and please keep it coming...

  23. 15th Jan 2008

    We reached CMai early morning about 10 plus, already geared up, brushed our teeth and showered cold water in the train and checking the map the nearest exit from CMai toward CKong. It was a good rest in the train. Time is against us as we have a short period to reach the border and attempt to cross to Laos the same day.

    We rode and had lunch along the way, good lunch at the cafe besides the petrol kiosk along the Highway to CRai. The pretty daughter does the cooking and the mother collects the money for the keow teow, bee hoon and fried rice. They serve good lattes and mochas. As we rode, 2 fast riders overtook me and missed a turn to CKong and end up near GT. They say they did that on purpose to see GT. :lol: As we rode thru the winding road to CKong, I was just thinking of a contingency plan in case the other 2 bikes could not catch up with us. I decided that we will try to hit for the town first to process the paper works as the 1 of the 2 riders has a GPS and they are experience riders. They will probably catch up and yes they did very fast.

    So, we went to the Thai Custom house in the town to process the bikes forms and then to the CIQ at the port and took the barge across to HXai. That was around 4 plus. We reached HXai and got our passport stamped but our bike documents cannot be processed as the Custom had took the liberty to close early as we were told. We had to wait till the next morning to get our bike paper process. We were also warned not to ride around town as our bikes are not legally in laos yet till the paper is processed.

    Dinner was quite relaxing at the Riverside Restaurant with wide arrays of so so dished ordered with Laobeer to go with. After dinner, we strolled thru HXai which is almost a death town at night. Walked around in the coldness of the night, I think the temprature was around 20 C.

    It was peaceful in a way compare to the Orchard Road in Singapore. Some of went surfing, some of us went buying water and tidbits for the night. Nothing much interesting in HXai and I would skip the town if that is possible and stay in LMT. Plan have changed due to the extra night in BKK and we need to do Laos in 10 days now or take the extra day in Hatyai to stay at 11 days in Laos. We will know that tomorrow when we start our journey tomorrow as we will know what is the average speed of the last bike.

    The photos for day 15th Jan 2008...

    Guess where the brown sludge lands?

    Preparation to take off..isn't it so tidy?

    Must be very warm in CMai?

    Lunch at the pretty cook place toward CRai, face of satisfying meal..she cooks well!

    The 2 lost sheeps who said that they did not get lost but detoured to GT to take photos! Talking about excuses..

    The VFR rider, Ah Kong who did not know what he had gone into..Off Road with a Sports Tourer?.

    Dinner at HXai..
  24. Looking forward to the next part!

    How did the Singha beer compare to the Lao Beer? :D

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