Riding the path from Muang Long to Vieng Phoukha

May 29, 2006
Plus an update on the road from Luang Nam Tha to Houeyxai...

We are in Chang Rai at the moment as we needed to head to Thailand to get another 30 day Laos tourist visa. Though we may as well head to a city to stock up on stuff after a month in northern Laos.

Our mate Jeremy has a hired XR250 and was keen for a mission, so in Luang Nam Tha I suggested he might want to give the road/track from Muang Long to Vieng Phoukha a go. He dutifully headed out at 6am on the 18th of March to see if it was possible. Too intimidating for us on the Minsks, so we just cruised around LNT. So soft.

LNT - Muang Sing - Muang Long - Vieng Phoukha - LNT.
He did it.
He left LNT at 6am got back at 5.30pm after riding all day.


Muang Long to Vieng Phoukha - Jeremy's comments
79km - 6hrs all up (negotiating obstacles etc), 4 hours solid riding.
If wet - no chance
If bone dry - mmm maybe
XR250 at the heaviest. You need to lift your bike over a few obstacles, streams, and holes. Its mostly a walking track, and maintained as such. There were no motorbikes along the way. Normally you will find at least one step-through wherever you go, not on this track. An hour from Long he just about rode over some backpackers on a "trek", classic.
Jungle is awesome from Long till the first village (an hour or two) after which 50% is jungle 50% is used for slash and burn agriculture.

He dropped the XR 5 times.

If you do it:
Make a day of it. Stay in Muang Long or Vieng Phoukha and give it a go.
Take a machete. Take food and water. Go with someone else to help with getting the bikes through/over things.

Turn off near Long to Vieng Phoukha is not obvious.
It is at:
N 20 57 742
E 100 49 805

First village is at:
N 20 54 355
E 100 53 860

See his photos below.

Luang Nam Tha to Houeyxai - road update

We were expecting a slow bumpy ride along this road construction zone. But it is 80% finished and is SMOOTH CURVACEOUS AND FAST.

For example:

Of the 185km maybe 30km of it is still under construction, but this is not too much of a problem because it is pretty hard and flat (well in the dry season it is). Bit of jungle at times so scenery is OK. It took us 5 hours including coffee, beerlao, and lunch stops, and we were riding Minsks which max out at 85km/hr and have tires the width of biscuits. On a real bike it would be so much fun and you could do it in 3 hours no probs.

Jeremy's photos (apparently as the day wore on he got more and more nervous about encountering an obstacle that he could not get over and having to head back, and as a result most of the photos are from the easier first third of the track when he was enjoying it!):

The road to Long


The turn off east of Long to head south to Vieng Phoukha








The first village coming from Long


This one was securely tied to the surrounding trees etc


Second village

Two lanes!

This is the track, past the house it forked but Jeremy was able to ask which way to take



He got it stuck in here and for some reason did not get a photo!

Nice hunter who gave up 3 handfuls of rice for 2000 kip

Water bottle punctured so he drank from here



Mar 15, 2003
Thanks for the report and the update. I have been hoping to get back into that area this year before the rains come. It sounds like Hwy 3 is changing rapidly. A big difference from trips I took in 2004 and 2005. I guess this is good and bad. It will be a fast way into the northwestern areas of Laos, but the challenge and uniqueness of the road will be lost. That's progress I guess.

Congratulations to your friend Jeremy. What a great trip experience and excellant photos. I love natural "people shots". Don't know about the wisdom of doing it alone though, but he made it so I guess that's what counts.
Oct 12, 2005
Now this is what I really admire[:)].

Some real riding adventure style. None of this paved roads through Thailand stuff. Hats off to you guys not only for seeing this route through but posting the trip for the rest of us to gawk enviously at.

The GPS coordinates are especially helpful. I look forward to more of your fantastic reports. Good stuff.
Nov 14, 2004
Hey Jeremy, top ride, mate there was some tight single trail tracks there, out there on your own, mabe in hindsight not that good an idear.
Was that Joe blake alive or dead, did those poor bastards recover the tractor, was he do'n an evil k'nevel an ziged when he should'a zaged.
Great picks thanks m8, regards Scott....Land of oZ.


Staff member
Jan 16, 2003
Chiang Khong
WOW! Jeremy's really excelled himself there with a ripper trip & all alone. WELL DONE. Now that he knows what it is like I wonder if he would do it again alone? Regardless congrats Jeremy.
Matt, many thanks for the trip reports. It's good to know that you guys are out there riding & having a good time. I'm totally envious layed up at home with this arm in plaster still. Keep up the good work.
Now seeing that you've been contributing & are probably going back in for more, here's a hot tip for you:
From Oudom Xai there is a new link up with Pak Ou, on the Mekong, just north of Luang Prabang. Part of the road is already on the GT Rider map. It is the thin magenta line "road / track unconfirmed status" starting from R2W, the Oudom Xai - Pak Beng & shown on the map as going to Nga. My info is that the pick-ups are already running from Oudom Xai to Pak Ou. From Pak Ou it is a short asphalt run into Luang Prabang. Supposedly the Nga turn off is approx 14 kms from Oudom Xai. Compared to the M Long - V Phoukha trail, it should a piece of cake. So have a crack at it & report here will you.
Jun 21, 2006
agreed wicked pictures mate, looks like you had a whale of a time...
p.s what type of snake was that? i hope theyve fried it up and eaten it by the time i come anywhere near, it looks a bit like a cobra hopefully was just a rat snake.
we dont get many snakes in england i think thats what breeds the fear.
Jun 21, 2006
You want snakes, how about this beuty, got caught in an electric fence in OZ, farmer said the thing was eating his sheep, how would you like to see this beauty as you ride around the corner, THEY DO THINGS BIG IN OZ




Jan 11, 2006
The name of the first village is Nambo, mixed Hmong and (I think) Lahu. I saw the tracks from a bike in mid December, trail was still pretty wet from rainy season.
May 29, 2006
Glad you guys enjoyed this post. Once I get organised I will post a big report/reports on our northern Laos ride. We have so many photos and GPS info etc. Nameo - Vieng Xai - Xam Tai - Xam Nua - Nam Nuen - Nong Khiaw - Udomsai - Phongsali - Hat Sa - Muang Khua - Udomsai - LNT - Houeyxai - Kone Tuen - Xiengkhone - Honsa - Luang Prabang...
We are in Luang Prabang after travelling from Kone Tuen (about 3 hours on the slow boat south from Houeyxai but before Pak Khop) to Xiengkhone, Hongsa, then LP. Pretty cool roads, not much jungle, very steep in places from Hongsa to LP, all dodgy dirt road. My clutch gave out right in the most remote place on the Hongsa - LP road, right in the mountains, no vehicles, Jeremy had to tow me up the hills with his Baja with a rope that he bought from a village woman who was using it to tie up her mosquito net. Trace dropped her bike 5 times. Long day but funny. The cold beer in LP was one of the best I have had.