Roundtrip in Indochina
This Tour provides an outstanding opportunity to obtain a thorough impression of the uniqueness of north Thailand, Laos and Vietnam. The selected roads are a mix of mostly rural two lanes with a variety of surfaces. During most part of the tour, we will ride through areas of spectacular mountainous beauty – some of the best ridings anywhere in the world. We start riding east towards Chiang Rai and Chiang Khong where we meet the Mekong River for the first time. Crossing the border into Laos and ride towards Oudom Xai. Already during our third day of riding, we cross into Vietnam and visit the battleground at Dien Bien Phu.
Heading north towards the Chinese border and the Phan Xia Pang, at 3143 meters tall, it is Vietnam’s and South East Asia’s highest mountain. Then we have a rest day in the pleasant and picturesque resort town of Sapa before continuing to the rice terraces at Nghia Lo. We’ll enjoy a boat ride along with the Limestone caves at Ninh Binh. And then we’ll enjoy riding on the Ho Chi Minh Trail to Phu Mat. Once back in Laos we visit the Plain of Jars and continue to Luang Prabang, UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Crossing the mountains on yet another road less traveled to Pakbeng before returning to Thailand. We will ride in the less known mountains surrounding the province of Nan, which for centuries remained autonomous and cut off from the outside world. In every region during the tour, we will feast on the local Thai / Lao/ Vietnamese cuisine. During dinners, there will be western dish options available at most locations. Truly 3 countries and 1 million impressions!
|DEPARTURE/RETURN LOCATION||Chiang Mai/CNX|
|DEPARTURE TIME||Please arrive at least 2 hours before the flight.|
|TOUR GUIDE LANGUAGE|
“At Explorify Tours we believe that good experiences and camaraderie are at least as important as the tour. Our goal is to fill your tour bag with as many positive memories as possible, so you go home with a big smile on your face. And with friends, you didn’t have before you started your adventure tour.”
Day 1: Departure - Arrival Chiang Mai, Thailand
Upon arrival, we will meet you at the airport and drive you to the hotel (recommended arrival to Chiang Mai, no later than 1 pm). At 3 pm we meet for a welcome briefing and motorcycle hand over at our Service Centre. Ride back to the hotel so you can get familiar with your motorcycle and local riding environment etc. Overnight in Chiang Mai.
Day 2: Chiang Mai - Chiang Kong
(Driving day 2: 300 km/186 miles)
In the morning we start our Motorcycle Tour of Vietnam Thailand & Laos. We ride in the eastern direction, passing the Doi Luang National Park, hot springs, etc. The first part will be on the main road, an enjoyable ride with nice twists and bends. In Chiang Rai, we will visit the White Temple, once of north Thailand’s main attractions. In the early afternoon, we ride along the magic Mekong River (mother of all rivers), which in this area makes the border between Thailand and Laos. We will meet the Mekong River often during our tour. Towards the end of the day, we arrive in Chiang Khong which is the destination of our first riding day. We park our motorcycles and enjoy the river view and Laos on the other side. Overnight in Chiang Khong.
Day 3: Chiang Khong - Oudomxai
(Driving day 3: 310 km/193 miles)
A bit earlier start today, the goal is to be at Thai Immigration when they open at 8 am. After clearing the Thai border formalities, we cross the Thai – Lao Friendship Bridge. On the Loa side our Lao tour guide greets us, helps us with the border formalities. The immigration- and customs procedures are always an experience. It simply just takes time, so relax, be patient.
Don’t forget! In Laos, we drive on the right side of the road! We have lunch in Luang Namtha and then continue the remaining stretch to Oudomxai. The road is quite good and the scenery is great as we are passing through a couple of villages, where is time to stop and “mingle” with the locals. The first stretch of today to Luang Namtha is the main transit road between Thailand and China and normally has a bit more traffic. After lunch, the road is more provincial, with plenty of cures and villages. Part of this stretch is full of trucks due to the high-speed railway construction between China and Vientiane. Once the high-speed train is in service this part of Laos will change a lot, especially Luang Prabang. Overnight at a lovely resort in Oudomxai.
Day 4: Oudomxai - Dien Bien Phu
(Driving day 4: 230 km/143 miles)
Our Motorcycle Tour of Vietnam Thailand & Laos continues in an eastern direction on low traffic density provincial roads to the Vietnamese border. The first stretch we ride along the Nam Phak River, enjoy the scenery. At Pak Nam Noy we start climbing up the mountains towards the Vietnam border. This is a remote area of Laos, the scenery is spectacular, not many villages. Not much is happening at the Lao / Vietnam border, said that it can still take some time to work through the paperwork. Our Vietnamese guide will wait for us at the Tay Trang border crossing and together we will ride to Dien Bien Phu. You will notice how things have changed once crossing into Vietnam, different landscapes, more people, villages, traffic.
The Battle of Dien Bien Phu was the climactic confrontation of the First Indochina War between the French Union’s French Far East Expeditionary Corps and Viet Minh communist-nationalist revolutionaries. We can visit the Dien Bien Phu Museum, the notorious hill A-1 battlefield, the former French command post, and a captured tank. Overnight in Dien Bien Phu.
Day 5: Dien Bien Phu - Sapa
(Driving day 5: 300 km/186 miles)
Day 6: Sapa
(Explorer & fun day)
Today is a rest day. Sapa is a mountainous town in Northwestern Vietnam, blessed with a cool climate throughout the year. The Hoàng Liên mountain range dominates the area with a dramatic backdrop for many scenic treks.
There are many things to do in Sapa. You can do an optional ride in the area. Or you simply chill out. For a remote small town in northern Vietnam’s mountains, Sapa is surprisingly modern. It offers a great variety of gastronomic options – from local street food and Vietnamese specialties to high-quality Italian restaurants and wine bars. Not to mention the many local cafes that serve super robust Vietnamese coffee. If you are up to it, take the cabin to the top of Phan Xia Pang or simply just stroll around in the town. Overnight in Sapa.
Day 7: Sapa - Nghia Lo
(Driving day 6: 245 km/142 miles)
With newly “charged batteries” our journey takes us in southern direction. We ride on good quality mountain roads to Nhiah Loh. During the whole day, we pass through endless villages and rice fields. There are countless photo stops and possibilities to “mingle with the locals”. The closer we get to Nhiah Loh the more spectacular the landscape becomes, especially the valleys with their endless rice terraces. The road is especially scenic between Than Uyen to Nghia Lo. We will stop at a monument on pass 1570 and viewpoint No1, take the opportunity and climb the watchtower. The view of the rice paddies is best from here. Overnight in Ngiah Lo.
Day 8: Nghia Lo - Ninh Binh
(Driving day 7: 300 km/186 miles)
Today our Motorcycle Tour of Vietnam Thailand & Laos brings us south to the Ninh Binh province, passing Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam.
We arrive at Tam Coc, a small town, full of guest houses, coffee shops, restaurants, and souvenir shops (good opportunity to buy inexpensive Vietnamese handicraft) etc, once the ancient capital of Viet Nam, settled in the 10th century. We can visit temples of two dynasties of Dinh and Le with very unique architectures. Explore the local area by bicycle. Overnight in Ninh Binh.
Day 9: Ninh Binh - Pu Mat
(Driving day 8: 250 km/155 miles)
In the morning we board sampan boats (2 people share one boat) and drift down the river among the villages, beautiful mountains and lush rice fields. We pass through 3 caves (“Hang Ca”, “Hang Hai” and “Hang Ba”). Enjoy the peace fullness and watch the skills of the boat operator.
Once back on our motorcycles we continue our journey to Pu Mat. We follow the Ho Chi Minh Trail and the Ca (big) river and arrive in Con Cuong town in the Nghe An province towards the end of the day. Most of today’s route is on good enjoyable low-density roads. Next to our hotel is a swimming pool with bar, full of locals. Enjoy a swim and a beer with them. There is also a possibility to ride and visit a waterfall, paved road, totally 50 km return. Overnight at hotel in Con Cuong.
Day 10: Pu Mat - Nam Can - Phonsavan
(Driving day 9: 270 km/168 miles)
Today we continue to the Nam Can border gate and check out to Laos. The last part of our riding in Vietnam passes through endless villages and just before the border we climb up the mountain range creating the natural border between Vietnam and Laos. We better be there on time. At 11:30 the immigration office will take their rather long lunch break. After the immigration process, we ride in direction to Phonsavan. You will notice the change in landscape and fewer villages once in Laos. We stay overnight in Phonsawan.
Day 11: Phonsavan - Luang Prabang
(Driving day 10: 265 km/165 miles)
Phonsavan is home to the famous “Plain of Jars”, a megalithic archaeological site that we will visit in the morning – a must-see stop on our Motorcycle Tour of Vietnam Thailand & Laos. Then we will jump straight back to the twisties, winding our way northwest towards Luang Prabang. Some stunning mountain trails give way to a wide-open track through the beautiful countryside with remote villages along the way. Luang Prabang with its gleaming temple roofs, fading French architecture, and stunning mountain backdrop has been claimed by UNESCO to be ‘the best-preserved city in South East Asia’. In the evening we will enjoy a deserved dinner in the old quarters of the town. Take the opportunity to visit the night market. We stay overnight in Luang Prabang.
Day 12: Luang Prabang
(Explorer & rest day)
As this is a rest day the day is totally at our own disposal. In the morning you will have the option to rise early to view the procession of monks on their daily outing collecting alms, a practice that dates back centuries. It is done early, as the monks cannot eat anything after midday. By giving food to a monk you make merit, which should augur well for your next life.
You may also want to visit the beautiful Kuang Si Waterfalls. It’s possible to swim in the lagoon, so bring your swimming gear. A great way to get there is to take a local “Tuktuk”.
Another option is cruising a couple of hours on the Mekong River to the Pak Ou Caves. If this is to the long time spent on a boat, enjoy a short sunset cruise on the river.
Once back in Luang Prabang you can visit the major temples, including the magnificent Wat Xieng Thong, which nestles at the meeting of the Mekong and the Nam Khan Rivers, and Wat Wisunalat, which is the oldest temple in the city. Another great optional activity is to sample a traditional Lao massage and herbal sauna. Along the walking street, you find plenty of antique shops, bakeries, bars, etc. After sunset, the night market takes off. Enjoy and have fun! We stay another night in Luang Prabang.
Day 13: Luang Prabang - Pakbeng
(Driving day 11: 280 km/174 miles)
In the morning you will have the option to rise early to view the procession of monks on their daily outing collecting alms, a practice that dates back centuries. It is done early, as the monks cannot eat anything after midday. By giving food to a monk you make merit, which should augur well for your next life. Once on our motorcycles, we start riding in southern direction to Xayaburi. The road heralds the start of a 170 km wild stretch of highway along steep ridges and around hairpin bends, with headlong views of rugged valleys and remote mountains as far as the eye can see. From Xayaburi we take the narrow and winding local road passing a couple of remote villages to Hongsa were we enjoy lunch. Last part of the day we ride to Pakbeng. Pakbeng is a colourful village situated at the junction of the Mekong River and the smaller Beng River, hence the town’s name ‘Pak’ meaning ‘mouth’ in Lao. The scenery is stunning, the pace is slow. The town is a transit point for many backpackers travelling by boat on the Mekong River between Luang Prabang and Huay Xai. Enjoy the view from the hotel’s infinity pool. Overnight in Pakbeng.
Day 14: Pakbeng - Nan
(Driving day 12: 220 km/197 miles)
Today is our last day in Laos on our motorcycle tour of Vietnam, Laos, and Thailand. The first part of the route takes us back in the direction of Hongsa. We cross into Thailand at Huai Kon border point. Normally the border formalities leaving Laos and entering Thailand are rather straight forward. Once in Thailand, we are in Nan province, one of the few remote areas left in Thailand. Enjoy the road 1081 south towards Bo Kluea. At Bo Kluea (salt well) we stop for lunch and visit the salt well where we will experience old traditional salt extraction. Back on the road, we continue a great windy and scenic road towards Nan, the capital of this province. For centuries Nan was a separate, autonomous Kingdom with few relationships to the outside world. Now, the city is a beautiful town with many well-preserved temples. For local bikers, the area is a treasure. Overnight in Nan.
Day 15: Nan - Chiang Mai
(Driving day 13: 310 km/193 miles)
After breakfast, we drive from Nan in a western direction. During the last day of our motorcycle tour, we cruise once again hilly roads via Phayao to Chiang Mai. In Phayao we enjoy a nice lunch by the lake before we arrive back at Bike Tour Asia Service Center in Chiang Mai in the afternoon. Transfer to the hotel and get ready for our farewell dinner. We end the day together with our new friends, sharing good riding memories and looking at some of the pictures from our adventures. We will overnight in Chiang Mai.
Day 16: Departure Chiang Mai - Home Travel
This amazing trip ends with the transfer to the airport or your extension.
Note: This program is a guideline for activities and experiences on the tour. Deviations may occur, but we guarantee that our positive tour leaders will do their utmost to execute the program as described – as far as it is feasible and circumstances allow. We are continually working to improve the program, thus you may experience positive surprises.
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