Visit the plain of jars and swim in the Mekong!
In 2012 we took advantage of Shannon’s work trip to Thailand, which meant a ticket already a paid and obtained (again using airline miles) a ticket for Mike. We only had short time for this trip (a bit over a week) so we decided to concentrate on just the north of the country for our trip and Mike insisted on visiting the plain of jars as he remembers that from watching Leonard Nimoys’ TV show “In Search of Myths and Monsters” in the late 1970s.
We found a very active internet community for adventure riding in SE Asia and through those searches came across the website for Remote Asia. We were able to rent motorcycles online prior to the trip and the owner James also supplied us with a ride itinerary that included route, fuel, and lodging information. Lodging and fuel were sporadic so this information was invaluable. On arriving in-country we emailed James from our hotel and he arrived with the bikes an hour later. He spent time going through the route and answering all our questions.
- Northern Laos is quiet and remote with very little traffic on the main roads. There was beautiful scenery at every turn.
- The Laotians were friendly and not aggressive. Of all the countries in SE Asia Laos felt the safest and most easy going.
- Luang Prabang is a UNESCO heritage city and the architecture that spans so many cultures is fascinating.
- We took a boat trip (Banana Boats Laos) on the Mekong that included a hike through a national park. The boat trip was fascinating as we were able to see temples and life on the river. Plus there were really good snacks!
- We rented helmets which in most cases is fine but for Shannon with her oddly egg shaped head the helmet was very uncomfortable and she wished she would have brought her own. So, if you are particular about any of your gear or have special fits/needs then bring your own and don’t rent it.
- Save your airlines miles as they can make foreign motorcycle trips affordable if not cheap. And, most of our miles come not from flights but from credit card purchases.
- It is illegal to ride with your headlights in Laos. Go figure.
The total trip cost was about $3,100 that included flights of $1,100. The two flights for Bangkok to Vientiane were $525 and the remaining amount was for Mike’s flight (buying additional miles, taxes, and a change fee). Bike rental was affordable at $560 for two bikes for 8-days ($35/day per bike). We rented small displacement dual sport bikes but could have reduced our costs if we had rented the 125cc Honda scooters at $10/day and really we didn’t need the dual sport bikes for the roads we were on. Our cost breakdown is as follows:
- Flights: $1,100
- Bike rental: $560
- Lodging: $550
- Fuel: $250
- Food: $250
- Misc./shopping: $400