If you have tried Thakhek Loop and want a new Laos motorbike adventure, head to the Northeast. Starting from Luang Prabang, you will reach remote areas to get close to the wild nature and gorgeous villages of ethnic minorities.
Be aware that the bad terrain throws some off-road challenges, but your efforts are rewarded afterward. Check out our article for an unbiased review of this itinerary.
Laos Motorbike Adventure: Northeast Loop To Blow Up Your Mind
Luang Prabang – Nong Khiaw Motorbike Tour
We recommend you visit Luang Prabang a few days before departure to explore the UNESCO World Heritage Site. As the ancient capital of Laos, it hides indescribable charms and long-standing historical and cultural values.
On our second day in Laos, we headed out of this tourist town to the North and onto Route 13. The road along the Nam Xuang and Mekong Rivers started with strong winds that dispelled the sweltering summer heat.
Our motorcycle adventure continued to ride along the riverbanks from the Nam Ou River to the Nam Nga River. Once we reached the river crossing, the terrain became rougher. We crept into shortcuts called Route 1C from Pak Mong to the Northeast. Our crew kept moving forward until we returned to the parallel track with Nam Ou again and rested at Nong Khiaw for the following day.
There were a lot of interesting activities going on in the small town. We stayed at a chalet instead of a luxury resort, which was the right decision. The room featured a large window with a stunning view of the forested mountains.
The first rays of light shone through the window panes and woke us up for an enjoyable physical activity – hiking to Mount Pha Daeng. From the observatory, we were greeted by the sun emerging behind the mountains. As the sunshine embraced the surroundings, the sea of clouds gradually disappeared and opened up to the beautiful valley.
Nong Khiaw – Muang Hiam Motorcycle Tour
We hopped on our motorbikes again on the third day and followed Highway 1C to the southeast. Not long after that, we climbed uphill and downhill again through small villages on the banks of the Nam Xuang River. The slopes slowed us down, but it was not too hard for experienced riders.
In Ban Viengkham, you should fill up with gas and rest at a cafe since the rough dirt roads would soon become your hindrances. The rest of Route 1C consisted of many small passes, tight corners, and scary switchbacks. We never let our guard down before descending east into the Muang Hiam Valley.
We enjoyed a pleasant ride during a short route along the small river and then strived to conquer the challenging roads with narrow bends one more time. Until the afternoon sun almost disappeared, we finally made it to the Muang Hiam.
We devoted almost a day in this area to exciting outdoor activities. One of the highlights was a trip to Nam Et-Phou Louey National Park, which preserves endangered animals and biodiversity. We then got back to the road in search of natural hot springs in the afternoon, guided by friendly locals. However, reaching the destination required much effort as the dirt trails with large potholes stretched most of the route.
Muang Hiam – Phonsavan Motorcycle Trip
A new day of Laos motorbike tour arrived with a long travel distance on Route 1C up the hill. The curvy road passed through rolling hills and towering mountains leading down to a vast valley between solid stone walls. We then stopped at the South Nern Night Safari to admire the wildlife for two hours – do not skip this activity; it is worth your time.
We were back on the steep tracks leading to busy towns such as Ban KohHing and Sop Lao. If you have plenty of time, visit the local area, which is brimming with merchants selling specialty Houaphan dresses. Unfortunately, we had to miss those exciting cultural activities due to the tight schedule.
Regret occupied our hearts until we climbed the mountainside in the eastern part of Xieng Khouang province. Each step forward was accompanied by an anticipation of what laid ahead, as the fog concealed both beauty and danger, teasing all our senses and igniting our imagination.
As we made our way to the peak, the amazing view from the wide bends extending into the Muang Kham valley lifted our moods. Our guide also told a tragic story about Tham Piew cave on the way to the town. Nearly 400 people sacrificed themselves in the direct missile bombs of US fighters in the war years.
We had little time for hot spring resorts but sped up to reach Phonsavan before dark. After a good night’s sleep, we proceeded to the rural region to explore the Plain of Megalithic Jars – a World Heritage Site and some traditional villages.
However, we failed to complete all the goals on our to-do list. Hence, you’d better spend 2-3 days here to explore all the interesting tourist attractions, including the museum of ethnic minorities, the old secret airbase, and the Pakheo Hike forest.
Phonsavan – Phou Khoun Motorbike Trip
After days of stimulation on the trails, we let loose on Route 7 to the west. The asphalt pavement in good condition allowed us to focus on the rolling hills and the Xieng Khouang plain. A beautiful stop suddenly came into sight – a small road crossing a gentle stream. Our camera flashed non-stop to capture this picturesque scene.
After an hour of leisurely travel, we faced the hilly path associated with off-camber hairpins and switchbacks. The road passed Hmong villages on the left and unfurled incredible panoramic views on the right. We also went through two short steep climbs before reaching Phou Khoun.
As quick travelers, we passed the strawberry farm and then casually admired the sunset in the beautiful scenery. This site served a sweeping view of the limestone mountains rising from the plains. Silence gently enveloped us, allowing us to feel nature with all our senses and heal the inner child.
If you are looking for a vibrant area with outstanding customer service and modern accommodations, Phou Khoun is not the right choice. The peaceful countryside only serves a few basic amenities but luxurious guest houses and restaurants. Its biggest plus is the campsites and viewpoints that enable you to get as close to the wild nature as possible.
Phou Khoun – Luang Prebang Motorbike Route
The final day begins on Route 13, winding through the mountain peaks. Our crew moved slowly through the hills dotted by remote villages and turned west. We got back on our feet for the final challenge – a long off-road track packed with sharp turns.
Fortunately, the hard part did not last long, and we were back at the end of the pleasant streets toward the town of Nam Khan. The beautiful rice fields raised by the Mekong followed our steps until we kissed goodbye in Luang Prabang.
The waves of rice sang a symphony that drove us back to the good old days. Though where we were born and raised didn’t live on agriculture, the peace and tranquility still healed the scars in our hearts.
Laos motorbike adventure to the North East has left a deep impression on our minds, especially the wild landscapes. Beginners do not need to worry about off-road challenges since most of the itinerary does not hide too many risks and dangers but is enough to strengthen your skills. Don’t hesitate to try it and run away from tall buildings and lousy city traffic. Follow our blog for useful information for your upcoming trip!