Laos is best when travelled by road, its dramatic routes twisting sinuously through jungle, paddy fields, mountains and karst country. Well there is an exciting alternative to drive through Laos’ stunning panoramas. To best explore this mysterious world, hire a speedy motorbike to tackle the rough trails and mountain roads.
1) First, you start your journey in the languid capital of Vientiane, from where you can hire GPS devices to help you safely find your route in the most remote of Laos’ backwaters. If you already have a device, an excellent digital GPS map is also available via sim card. You spend a few days here, soaking up its French restaurants, bakeries and spas before continuing your journey.
2) From Vientiane, 340km ride south ride to the pretty colonial town of Tha Khaek. The road is generally flat, with Thailand on your right across the Mekong River and dramatic jungle rearing up like a dragon-green tsunami to the east. You should try and travel early, given that dusk comes around 6 pm. You will be reminded of a scene from some vampire movie. Here you can stay at the Inthira Hotel, the town’s only boutique accommodation.
3) From there to the rears west from the logging town of Lak Sao back into Khammouane Province. It might not be much to look at, but you will be glad of the good hotels, street food and ATMs to accommodate your first night.
4) Then you can continue on the conditioned roads as you motor 100km west to Kong Lor Village through extraordinary karst country, the triple canopy rent by forbidding charcoal-black cliffs, visible for miles around. It is best to overnight in Kong Lor village and see the cave early the next morning, giving yourself plenty of time to ride back to Tha Khaek.
5) From the ragged teeth of Kong Lor cave flows the Kong River, which you have to board a stuttering longtail boat to navigate. Kong Lor cave looks like a backdrop from a Star Trek movie and as you make through the river it’s just you.
6) After the cave, you can start travelling the last 180km of the Loop, back to your hotel in Vientiane.