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12 Day Laos Indochina War Tour

12 days riding in Laos and this one tour is one of the more demanding trips due to the terrain and ride days. The reward is fantastic as we get deep off the main tourist runs and to isolated areas.  The tour takes in the far northeast of Laos and winds all the way to Pakse. Highlights of the trip include Luang Prabang, Xam Nua, Plain of Jars, Ho Chi Minh Trail Laos, Attapeu, a tag of the Lao Cambodia border and Pakse.  Good riding skills are required for this trip.  A few photos are at the base of this page and a roads of Laos video as well.


Brief Itinerary:

 

Arrival Day: Vientiane  

Day 1: Vientiane – Phou Khoun

Day 2:  Phou Khoun - LPQ

Day 3: LPQ – Vieng Thong

Day 4: Vieng Thong – Vieng Xai

Day 5: Vieng Xai - Phonsavan

Day 6: Phonsavan - Paksan

Day 7: Paksan – Gnommolath

Day 8: Gnommolath - Xepon

Day 9: Xepon – Ta Oi

Day 10: Ta Oi - Attapeu

Day 11:  Attapeu - Cambodia Border - Attepue

Day 12: Attapeu – Paksong - Pakse

Pakse Departure

 

Day to Day Itinerary:

 

Arrival Day: Vientiane

Upon your arrival, transfer to the hotel and we have an evening meeting tonight to discuss the trip and look over the map.  We’ll talk about safety, trip course, protective gear and general information about Laos. 

 

Accommodation: Lao Orchid Hotel

Meals: none

 

 

Day 1: Vientiane – Phou Khoun

We depart after breakfast and a short ride introduction.  We are headed north on road 13 and will stop a few times to make sure you are set up properly on the bike.  Lunch today is in Vang Vieng and we’ll keep moving north to a high overlook at Phou Khoun. We should arrive mid afternoon and get a short tour at some local caves used by the Vietnamese Army.  These caves are not always open but we’ll do our best to get you in, they are not on the open tourist trail!

 

Accommodation: Phou Khoun Bungalow

Ride Time: 6 hours

Riding difficulty: Easy

Meal plan: B/L/D

 

Day 2:  Phou Khoun – Luang Prabang

It’s 130 kilometers to Laung Prabang and we’ll try to visit the caves today if we didn’t get in the previous day due to time.  We ride the twisty mountain roads up to Luang Prabang with a few stops at some hillside schools with dramatic views.  Upon arrival in Luang Prabang, you have the late afternoon free to walk about or get in one last great massage before we get more kilometers on our bikes. 

 

Accommodation: Villa Phathana

Ride time: 5 hour

Riding difficulty: Easy

 Meal plan: B, L, D

 

Day 3: Luang Prabang to Vieng Thong

Departing after breakfast and on the early side – 07:30, we are headed up sealed road for about 25 km.  We turn onto a dirt road, a short cut to the north east of Laos.  The road is in good condition and often dusty but runs along some stunning landscape.  We’ll have a remote snack lunch today far away from the tourist trails of Laos and at a location with a great view.  We’ll meet up with a rural paved road in the north of Laos and turn east to Vieng Thong.  Upon arrival, we take a short break at the Wildlife Conservation Society offices for a look at the Nam Et Phouy Protected Area’s endangered inhabitants.  From here, we’ll take a short ride up an unimproved dirt road to sharpen our riding skills.  In Vieng Thong, accommodation is pretty basic but we’ll be in a quite town with few services. 

 

Accommodation: Vieng Thong Guesthouse

Ride time: 6 hours

Riding difficulty: Easy - Moderate

 Meal plan: B, L, D

 

Day 4: Vieng Thong to Xam Nua 210 km

We depart early and wind our way 155 kilometers to Xam Nua for an early lunch.  We drop our gear off at the hotel and continue east.  Along the way we’ll stop at some remote villages that may have shell casings from munitions from the Indochina war used as household items. After lunch, we head to Vieng Xai on the very scenic drive towards the Lao – Vietnamese border.  The journey from Xam Neua is possibly one of the most picturesque in Laos, passing rice terraces, pagodas, charcoal and copper-colored karst formations, misty mountain peaks emerging from dense jungle. 

 

We’ll arrive in Vieng Xai, home of the Secret Cave City and after registering with the cave tourism office, we visit Kaysone Cave, the office and residence of the Pathet Lao leader with its various rooms inside. We continue to Souphanouvong Cave also called Red Prince Cave, the office and residence of royalty and Prince Souphanouvong. Our last visit before lunch is Nouhak Cave, named for Nouhak Phoumsavang who served as Lao PDR president from 1992 to 1998.

 

Our last stop is to Siphandong Cave, also known as Artillery Cave.  This large cave was the military headquarters during the war with large natural caves that over 3,000 people lived in during the war.  We return to the guesthouse and relax.

 

Vieng Xai is in a stunning setting, similar to Ha Long Bay Vietnam, Guilin China and Vang Vieng, Laos.  Opportunities for taking photos of the landscape are many today and stops are at your request!  We return to Xam Nua and enjoy dinner at a local restaurant

 

Accommodation: Xam Nua Hotel

Ride Time: 6 hours

Walking time: 2 hours

Riding difficulty: Easy

Walking difficulty: Easy, some uneven terrain

Meal plan: B, L, D

 

Day 5: Xam Nua - Phonsavan   240 km

Departing early from Vieng Xai, we ride back the road west via Xam Nua.  Along the way we make a turn to Hing Tang (Suan Hin), a collection of standing stones often compared to Stonehenge.  This archaeological site remains a mystery but is believed to be related to the Plain of Jars.  We continue on for an early lunch in Nam Neun and start a higher elevation road tour south.  Close to the main highway we’ll stop at Tham Piew Cave. The cave was used by local people during the Second Indochina War as a bomb shelter but unfortunately became the site of where over 400 villages were killed in a US air strike against supposed insurgents from Vietnam.  From the cave entry is a great view of the forest and plains below with a stream and small irrigation dam at the base of the cliff completing a stunning view.

Phonsavan is reached by late afternoon. It is the main town of Xieng Khuang Province, surrounded by huge mountains, the highest of which is Phu Bia.  The town has a ‘wild west’ character but won’t win any beauty contests. We’ll check into the hotel and then take a quick run to Site 1 Plain of Jars for a look at the site and learn more about the history of the area during the war.  The area was very contested during the late 60’s and early 70’s between the Pathet Lao, Vietnamese Army and US backed forces. The evidence of the war is still in the hills and surrounding area. 


We return to the hotel and around 18:00 take in a short movie at the Mine Advisory Group office for a clearer explanation of the legacy of unexploded ordinance in Laos.  After dinner, rest up as we have a long dirt road ahead in the morning.

 

Accommodation: Xieng Khoung Hotel

Ride Time: 7 hour

Riding difficulty: Moderate – dirt roads, some challenging aspects but few of them.

Walking difficulty: Easy

Meal plan: B, L, D

 

Day 6: Phonsavan - Paksan  230 km

Departing early after our breakfast, we head south via rice fields and rolling hills.  Our first stop is in old Xieng Khoung to visit a bombed out temple where the Buddha is still sitting but the site is more or less a ruin from the war.  We continue now on dirt road and hope for no delays from the ongoing road upgrades.  We’ll stop as you like in this remote area of Laos and lunch will be a simple Lao meal in Thathom.  As we get further south, the dirt road becomes more challenging but we meet paved road about 60 km up from our destination.  Depending on the time of year, we have two options to get to Paksan, one quite difficult and the other just a little hard. 

Upon arrival, we head to the hotel and relax from the 230 km ride.  Dinner tonight is local and we’ll enjoy a beer or two along the Mekong River. 

 

Accommodation: Paksan Hotel

Ride Time: 8 hours

Riding difficulty: Easy-moderate - advanced

Meal plan: B, L, D

 

Day 7: Paksan – Gnommolath 250 km

It’s a long ride today but on great roads.  We go south on Hwy 13 and then turn east to Lak Xao.  Along the ride we’ll see boats made from used fuel cells from fighter bombers on their way to Vietnam. The ride to Lak Xao is scenic and we’ll take a quick lunch in town.  The Lak Xao road to the south was on of the many trails used by the Vietnamese troops headed south during the war.  Today it’s much improved and we’ll pass the largest hydro electric project in Laos along the way.  We overnight in Gnommolath or Nakai depending on how we do riding.  The area is under developed and further off the track rides are possible only if we are doing great on time.  Along the way today we’ll look at maps of the US bombing of the area and compare them to our GPS coordinates.  There are several LS sites near the track and we’ll stop near one. 
Our overnight is in a simple place tonight.

 

Accommodation: Local guesthouse

Ride Time: 6 - 8hour

Riding difficulty: Easy-moderate, difficult when raining.

Meal plan: B, L, D

 

Day 8: Gnommolath – Xepon 220 km

After breakfast, we depart east towards the Mu Gi border pass at Na Phao were a majority of the Vietnamese troops headed south entered Laos.  We follow a dirt road down over Bualapha, a major intersection and heavily bombed area in Laos stop for lunch.  We continue on secondary roads and cross the Xe Nou River and continue on an upgraded road past the largest gold mine in the south of Laos.  We arrive in Xepon and check into the hotel and you have time to visit the local market.  Time permitting; we’ll stop at a firebase of the Lam Son 719 Operation and also look around for local war scrap recyclers.

 

Accommodation: Xepon Guesthouse

Ride Time: 6 - 8 hours

Meal plan: B, L, D

 

Day 9: Xepon – Ta Oi 180 km

Ho Chi Minh Trail Leg 1.  In the morning, we’ll depart for Ban Dong and stop at a developing Indochina War focused mostly on the Lam Son 719 Operation.  At the turn south on the lead in for the Ho Chi Minh Trail, we’ll check out some war scrap put into a museum.  From here we ride south and over difficult terrain – the Ho Chi Minh Trail - with a few technical challenges and arrive in Ta Oi.  Along the way we use our map showing the bombing of the area and your guide relates some stories from persons interviewed that actually walked the trail during the war.  Today’s ride will take in some challenging areas and we’re not going very far but taking our time in this remote part of Laos.  At no time are riders permitted to leave the track, the danger of UXO in the area is high.

 

We overnight in Ta Oi, deep in the Lao jungle at a simple guesthouse.

 

Accommodation: Ta Oi Guesthouse

Ride Time: 6 hours

Riding difficulty: Challenging

Meal plan: B, L, D

 

Day 10: Ta Oi – Sekong – Attepue 220 km

Ho Chi Minh Trail Leg 2. Following breakfast we turn south and take a side track used mostly by loggers and arrive in Sekong for a late lunch.  This track is southern leg of the Ho Chi Minh Trail and road/track conditions will change on the ride.  The ride today is around 180 km of challenging road, but not as challenging as the trail was during the war.  Along the way we stop and check our locations against the bombing maps.  When we get closer to Attepue, we’ll pass thru Paam and take time at an abandoned SAM II missile site where the missile still sits.  We arrive in Attepue and enjoy a great dinner and overnight.

 

Accommodation: Attepue Palace Hotel

Ride Time: 7

Walking time: limited

Riding difficulty: Moderate - Difficult

Meal plan: B, L, D

 

Day 11:  Attapeu Excursion 230 km

We take a last run along the Ho Chi Minh trail to the south of Attepue for about an hour and then return up it.  This section of the trail leads into Cambodia where it becomes the Sihanouk Trail.  We return to the main highway and drive east again in the direction of Vietnam.  We pass an old CIA listening post along the way and will check it but involves a little walking.  We overnight again in Attapeu and enjoy another great meal.

 

Accommodation: Attepue Palace Hotel

Ride Time: 6 hours

Walking time: limited

Riding difficulty: Easy - Moderate

Meal plan: B, L, D

 

Day 12: Attapeu – Paksong – Pakse 210 km

Today we make our journey to Pakse through the Bolaven Plateau. We’ll stop at Paksong, Laos’s coffee capital. The area was involved in the war and our stops in Paksong have old photos of the area during the lat 60’s.  We will spend a bit of time at one of the many waterfalls along the route and weather permitting, take a dip.  On arrival in Pakse, you check into your hotel and relax

 

Accommodation: Pakse Hotel

Ride Time: 4 – 5 hours

Riding difficulty: Easy - moderate

Meal plan: B, L, D

 

 Pakse Departure

After breakfast, you are free until the transfer to the airport

 

Meal plan: B

 

Terms and Conditions

 

 

 

Ready to roll?  Fill in our Tour Request form with the number of persons and your dates, we'll put together a quote for your tour and personalize it to your needs.  Some questions are answered on our FAQ page, have a look.

 

Inclusive:

  • English speaking lead guide
  • Protective gear as available at 50% discount from http://www.remoteasia.com/Rental_Gear.html
  • Pre-trip briefing, pre-trip email packet
  • Meal as indicated
  • Airport transfers
  • Motorbike + fuel + helmet + 3rd party insurance for guest
  • Motorbike + fuel + helmet + 3rd party insurance for lead guide
  • Tool kit
  • Entry fees to sites and all ferry crossing charges
  • Accommodation as indicated, twin share
  • Permit  + Tax
  • Drinking water and hydration solutions
  • First aid kit (basic)
  • Post ride GPS map of the tour
  • Some tours include post ride video
  • Activities as indicated

 

Exclusive:

  • Flights
  • Damage to the bikes
  • Support vehicle
  • Visa (visa on arrival is available at 30 - 45 USD, 1 photo is required)
  • Travel insurance
  • soft drink, alcohol and meals not indicated
  • Activities as indicated
  • Laundry and personal expenses