Traveling Laos via Motorcycle
Motorcyclists looking for a luxurious holiday on two-wheels will be looking at a destination other than Laos. A country most seasoned Americans only know from Vietnam War reports, Laos remains a communist country – surrounded by Vietnam, Cambodia, China, Thailand and Myanmar – with precious few civil liberties for its 6.5 million citizens.
Yet, those looking for an adventure will see the hope that comes with an emerging economy and want to participate in its expansion and the freedom that often follows. The room for growth is great – 80-percent Laotians are employed in farming, much of it subsistence.
However, mineral resources are plentiful in Laos, as is the water needed for the hydroelectric energy it exports to neighbors. Interestingly, a popular brewed-rice alcoholic beverage, Beerlao, is the face of Laos for most regional foreigners.
Keep in mind that tourism is the country’s fastest growing industry, and that makes a motorcycle ride through the rural, tropical country just a bit more appealing.
Again, you will not be hopping on a Gold Wing to travel through Laos and you won’t be staying at opulent luxury hotels. There are few flights into Laos, no rail system, and while major roads are improving, much of the country is accessed via unpaved roads.
With all of these daunting aspects, Laos is still accessible to Americans with the right help. MotoQuest, which hosts tours worldwide (and rents motorcycles in the United States), has the local knowledge needed for a safe trip through Laos, which has many natural and historic resources that will satisfy those who demand the most exotic experiences.
Riders take the Honda Baja 250 (similar to the older XR250L dual-sport bike) through the country, with an English-speaking Laotian guide at the helm. There is a support truck following, and the guide carries tools, first aid equipment and a satellite phone. Riders are encouraged to bring high-quality, waterproof off-road friendly apparel.
In addition to the riding, which takes you inside the Pathet Lao Caves, there are off-bike excursions, including a trip down the Nam Ou River, a tour of the Plain of Jars (a 2000-year-old archeological landscape featuring hundreds of stone jars), an elephant ride, and the Luang Prabang Night Market.
Respectful of Laos’ war-torn past, MotoQuest donates $100 to the Mines Advisory Group for each tour participant.