Laos is an incredibly popular cycling destination in southeast Asia.
Its varied and beautiful landscape, laid back people, light traffic and low cost of living all win rave reviews. The UNESCO world heritage city Luang Prabang is the top ‘must see’ destination but the coffee plantations and waterfalls around the Bolaven Plateau and the Si Phan Don islands in the very south of the country also merit a few days.
Keep reading for more information on bike touring in Laos, including specific route details…
- Budget and shopping
- Food and Water
- Getting a Visa
- Money Matters
- Roads and Maps
- When and Where
There’s easily enough cycling to keep you busy for a month or six weeks if you want to do a comprehensive tour from north to south. Most cyclists will use buses to hop between the best spots or choose a portion of the country to explore. Two popular options are to ride north from Vientiane to Luang Prabang or across central Laos from Thailand to Vietnam.
It’s hard to find much negative to say about Laos. The hot and humid weather can make cycling uncomfortable if you’re not used to the tropics. Early starts and long lunchbreaks help with this. Rocketing numbers of tourists are also taking their toll on the country and sometimes things aren’t as laidback as older travel reports lead you to believe. You do have to keep an eye on the bill as overcharging is not uncommon, even in small towns.
Riding off the main roads in the wet season (June to September) can also be a muddy affair and you have to do some serious research before heading off the beaten track. What is marked as a main road on your map may be barely more than a forest track! Route 23 running north from Salavan is a case in point, with washed out bridges and a large section that’s just a sandy, rocky trail through the jungle.