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Southern Laos by Bicycle
Despite its persuasive charms, Laos remains the Southeast Asian country that slips under the radar. Be prepared to discover why this glorious land full of waterfalls, fragrant coffee plantations, picturesque villages and welcoming local people deserves top billing in the region. What better way to do it than atop a bike, thoroughly absorbing the sights as you breathe in the lovely landscapes of Laos.
- CategoryEasy-going & Leisurely
- TypeFully Guided
- Duration8 days
- Culture LevelAdventurous
- Skill Level2 - Novice
- Activity Level2 - Moderate
- Elevation2 - Moderate
- Distance162.8 miles
- Avg. Daily Distance27.3 miles
- Day 1Anticipation builds on the banks of the Mekong River
We all know that buzzing feeling of excitement that swells up in us ahead of any new adventure. It’s no different on this tour as you edge closer to the beginning of this trip to the luscious land of Laos. The initial meeting point is Thailand’s transit town of Ubon Ratchatani, where you either fly or travel in by train from Bangkok.
Before you get those legs pumping it’s important to get fresh, so your guides will pick you up and take you to your hotel set on the edge of the Mekong River. If you arrive early enough, some time to revel at the pool in the hotel awaits. Once everyone has arrived, the team will meet up for the first of many spectacular dinners before running through a brief of the tour. Tomorrow the real adventure awaits.
- Day 2Gearing up and gliding along the Mekong River
After yesterday’s introductions, it’s time to get down to the real business of cycling. You begin the day with a quick transfer over the Laos border at Chong Mek before finding the starting point of the ride. Your ride begins on some smooth roads and once those feet touch the pedals, you will feel a wave of elation sweep through as you glide alongside the Mekong River and through the former colonial town of Champasak. While the gentle waters will soothe your soul you will push onwards toward Wat Phu, home to a Khmer Hindu temple complex that harks back to the 5th century. It marks a perfect point for exploration and to wolf down a picnic lunch. With your stomach satisfied and ample rest time to let your food digest, you will hop back on the bike to head to Champasak where a night at a riverside hotel awaits.
- 29.8 miles
- Day 3Switching it up with island hopping and cycling
Today is all about variety and you will certainly get the opportunity to pack it in as you take multiple ferry rides to explore the likes of Don Daeng and Don Khong islands. You have to earn these mesmerising trips though; it’s all about keeping the wheels rolling to find these wondrous lands. The ferry provides welcome breaks with the first one to Don Daeng Island, only a short ride away from the terminal. Upon landing you will head out on the bikes to explore this pretty island before heading for another ferry, this one to the other side of the Mekong River.
Today’s highlight is a visit to the remote village of Ban Niet Ngong. Off the beaten path, you will witness first-hand the hospitality of the Lao people. Their smiles are as big as their hearts and you’ll be won over by their positivity and willingness to speak with you despite potential language barriers. A short walk or bike ride further up from Ban Niet Ngong lies the odd but intriguing stone towers of Phu Asa. Have your camera ready for this unusual sight. It’s the perfect place for a spot of lunch before you fly downhill on the bike. Once your adrenaline rush is over it’s time to take a transfer; the vans will be loaded up with the bikes before heading for Ban Hat.
Taking one of the last ferries of the day, you will head back over the Mekong Delta to one of the river’s biggest islands, Don Khong. You will arrive in the late afternoon, but this will still afford ample time to observe the importance the river holds for locals here as they go about their daily business and tasks.
- 27.3 miles
- Day 4Discovering dolphins and new lands
After a breezy day of riding and checking out the fascinating islands along the Mekong Delta, why change a recipe for success?
Today, your journey will continue in the same exciting vein as you explore more of the beautiful islands that make this such a popular route for cycle touring. The day begins with a gentle ride around Don Khong where you can witness locals making palm sugar along the banks of the river. Your next stop on a short ferry ride is the island of Don Som, which neatly connects with the tip of Don Det. Both make for splendid riding, pedal along paved roads mixed in with a few dirt tracks to add a bit of a challenging flavour.
Finally, you will cross a classic French railway bridge to the final island of the day – Don Khone. Here you can check in at the hotel and enjoy a local lunch before continuing your adventure. Leaving the bikes behind it’s time to go in search of those beautiful creatures – dolphins. You will take a leisurely cruise along the river looking for these friendly animals, but a sighting cannot be promised as the Irrawaddy dolphins are nearly extinct. Still, the promise of finding them will keep you glued to your seats, as will the variety of other glorious wildlife on show and the exquisite views. If that wasn’t enough, you will finish up with a visit to the Leepi Falls before it’s time to call it an excellent and varied day.
- 28 miles
- Day 5Watching the waterfalls and getting a coffee fix like no other
After yesterday’s excursions, you can rest a bit easier as things begin slowly with a delicious breakfast. The activities lined up today are sure fire winners – waterfalls and coffee. It may sound like an odd couple, but it will keep your eyes and taste buds dancing with joy. You will meet the first of this delightful pairing when you ride out to the Khan Phapeng waterfalls. This natural phenomenon is spectacular to take in, particularly as it splits the Mekong River. It’s a real photographer’s dream. Once you’ve taken all your snaps it’s time to head for the land of coffee growing in Laos - the Bolaven Plateau. You will head here via a two hour transfer in the van, along the way, check out another waterfall at Tad Fane.
After lunch you’ll get back on the bikes and pedal hard towards a coffee resort for an overnight. On this final stretch there are a few gentle uphill roads to take on but it all evens out beautifully before you finish up in the town of Paksong. Time for a local brew!
- 24.9 miles
- Day 6Enjoying the real village life of Laos
Laos is renowned for many things, but it is really the generous people and the stunning communities that will stand out in your memories. The day’s riding exemplifies that as you head out along quiet roads, through picturesque villages and past enthusiastically loud children encouraging you onwards. These quiet roads will allow you moments of contemplation and the chance to see a real slice of Laos, but make sure to keep paying attention, you’ll never know when piglets or any other creatures will step in front of you.
Today is mainly a day for pure enjoyable riding, but you will get the chance to learn how coffee is roasted in the ethnic village of Katou, and why they put empty coffins under their houses. Departing the flat roads you will head downhill before arriving at more beautiful waterfalls, and the delightful riverside lodge, yours for the night. If the accommodation wasn’t stunning enough, you can finish the day with a swim in the waterfalls before enjoying a superb dinner with your comrades overlooking the cascading water. What a day!
- 18.6 miles
- Day 7Marvel at Laos’ village architecture on your final cycling day
It’s your final day of cycling, so it will come as no surprise that this is a real action-packed conclusion which will leave your legs feeling like they have accomplished quite a feat. Leaving behind the fragrant Bolaven Plateau, you will ride out on an undulating road that holds a few challenging surprises – some lengthy but more than doable gradual climbs. It is well worth keeping those pedals rotating as you head for Tad Pha Suam. It is here where you can admire the varied styles of Laotian homes, while reveling in the beauty of another waterfall. By the end of this trip you will have seen so many waterfalls it will be difficult to imagine your life without them. And this gorgeous point will mark the place where the wheels of your bike stop turning. Celebrations are in order, but first you will transfer in the van for an hour to the riverside town of Pakse.
Atop the roof of the hotel you can appreciate the amazing views, enjoy another superb meal, and toast the success of an incredible ride with your new friends through the beautiful land of Laos.
- 34.2 miles
- Day 8Homeward or onward journeys await as you leave Laos
Waking up in the morning at the resort you won’t be able to believe it’s already over. It’s been a stunning bike ride through Southern Laos, soaking up the beautiful sights, sounds and smells along the Mekong River. Over breakfast you can discuss your best moments before it’s time to depart.
Jumping in the van you will head back over the border into Thailand for an 11:00 am arrival in Ubon Ratchatani. From here you will have plenty of time to catch an afternoon flight out or head elsewhere. The team will be more than happy to offer recommendations or advice should you wish to stay longer in Thailand or Laos.