Cycling Laos

12 days / 11 nights

Laos is a top cycling destination with its striking landscapes and light traffic. We begin our 12-day cycling adventure in the sleepy capital city of Vientiane. After a gentle city bike tour to kick things off, we head north through gorgeous countryside to the riverside Lao Pako Eco-Resort. The route then continues to the pretty Nam Ngum Lake before bringing us to the popular backpacker town of Vang Vieng, famous for its relaxed atmosphere and river tubing. We have a break in the beautiful surroundings of the town, before the cycling gets tougher as we climb into the mountains, although the views are stunning. We wind our way towards the World Heritage site of Luang Prabang, with its gleaming temple roofs and old world charm, its 32-stupa studded wats and museums. Our cycling adventures visit villages and ethnic groups that live in the surrounding valley and the blue waters of Kuang Si Falls where we can take a well-earned dip.

In brief

  1. Day 1: Vientiane
  2. Day 2: Vientiane City Bike Tour (15km)
  3. Day 3: Vientiane to Ban Pako (68km)
  4. Day 4: Ban Pako to Nam Ngum Lake (88km)
  5. Day 5: Nam Ngum Lake to Vang Vieng (40km)
  6. Day 6: At Leisure in Vang Vieng
  7. Day 7: Vang Vieng to Kasi (58km)
  8. Day 8: Kasi to Kiu Kacham (95km)
  9. Day 9: Kiu Kacham to Luang Prabang (74km)
  10. Day 10: Luang Prabang around the Valley (30 km)
  11. Day 11: Luang Prabang to Kuang Si Waterfall (60km)
  12. Day 12: Free Time in Luang Prabang

In detail

Day 1: Vientiane

After arrival, we transfer to our hotel. We leave the rest of the day free to recover from the long flight and prepare for the cycling that lies ahead. A charming riverside capital, it is easy to explore the cafes and galleries of Vientiane on foot. Overnight in Vientiane. 

Day 2: Vientiane City Bike Tour (15km)

Discover the highlights of Vientiane on a bike. We visit the historic temple of Wat Si Saket, the oldest surviving temple in Vientiane. Inside are 6840 Buddhas, surely a record for a Lao temple. We cross the road and enter Haw Pha Kaew, more a museum than temple today, there is some impressive Buddhist sculpture here. Then its time for us to view the striking golden stupa of Pha That Luang, the most sacred temple in the city. We continue to the 'Arc de Triomphe' of Vientiane, or Patuxai as it is known locally. On this short city cycle tour through Vientiane you get your first insight into Laos. We finish with a pedal along the Mekong riverfront and take in the sunset over the Mother of all Rivers. Overnight in Vientiane.

Day 3: Vientiane to Ban Pako (68km)

This morning we cycle through the suburbs, as we depart Vientiane in a northerly direction. After a few kilometres on the National Road 10, we switch to quieter dirt roads that pass through many villages and introduce us to the real countryside. The Lao Pako Eco-resort is located on a magnificent location along the bank of the Nam Ngum River. Overnight in Ban Pako Eco-resort. 

Day 4: Ban Pako to Nam Ngum Lake (88km)

The first stage of this day will take us on dirt roads through undiscovered countryside. At Ban Nampheng we continue on a smooth tar road to Nam Ngum Lake. The last stage of this day starts to get hilly, with some short climbs. We stay overnight at the Long Ngum View Resort, which has stunning views over the Nam Ngum Lake. Overnight in Nam Ngum.

Day 5: Nam Ngum Lake to Vang Vieng (40km)

We begin today with a boat boat ride from Thalat over the Nam Ngum Lake to Tha Heua, taking about 90 minutes and offering some pretty glimpses of islands and their birdlife. From Tha Heua, we start cycling to through rolling countryside to the popular backpacker destination that is Vang Vieng. We stay in a comfortable resort along the banks of the Nam Song River with stunning views over the limestone mountains. Overnight in Vang Vieng. 

Day 6: At Leisure in Vang Vieng

We leave some free time to discover the area around Vang Vieng by bicycle or you can choose for an easy kayak trip on the Nam Song River which highlights the incredible landscape from another point of view. It is also possible to try river tubing, a popular activity that involves floating downstream on an inflatable inner tube. There are also some great hikes in this area and these can be arranged locally. Overnight in Vang Vieng. 

Day 7: Vang Vieng to Kasi (58km)

Today, the route passes through some amazing scenery from valley to valley. We enjoy a stop at one of the local rivers along the way to cool off. It is also possible to discover one of the nearby karst limestone caves, which are dotted throughout the mountains in this part of Laos. Overnight in Kasi where accommodation will be basic. 

Day 8: Kasi to Kiu Kacham (95km)

Today, the scenery is once again stunning. After a first flat 10km, the road winds its way up into the mountains for more than 20km. Try to conserve some energy to take in the amazing views and we will have a break in Phou Khoun Village. After Phou Khoun, the road is undulates between 1100 and 1400 meters. Take your time to stop by in nearby villages and meet the hilltribe people. We stay overnight on a altitude of 1350m in Kiu Kacham. Overnight in a basic accommodation.

Day 9: Kiu Kacham to Luang Prabang (74km)

After a great descent to Nam Ming, a long but smooth climb will bring us to the last 1000m pass. Another freewheeling descent will bring us to the scenic valley of Ban Xiang Ngeun. From here, it's an easy ride to the UNESCO World Heritage town Luang Prabang, located on a peninsula between the Mekong and the Nam Khan River. Luang Prabang is the perfect place for a few days of rest and relaxation and to discover the scenic area around town. Overnight in Luang Prabang. 

Day 10: Luang Prabang around the Valley (30 km)

This morning we explore the historic town of Luang Prabang. We walk along Sisavangvong St, the heart of the old quarter and explore the National Museum, set in the former Royal Palace. Built in 1904, the palace is a blend of Laotian and French influences and houses many royal treasures. The most important item is the solid gold Pha Bang Buddha, a gift from the Khmer King to his son-in-law, Fa Ngum, founder of the Lao Kingdom. We then continue into the centre of Luang Prabang, exploring the narrow alleys that criss-cross the town, stopping to enjoy some views over the mighty Mekong River. We wind up at the beautiful temple of Wat Saen, originally built in 1718 and under the guidance of Ajahn Khamjan, one of the most revered abbots in Laos. There is the option of climbing Mt Phousi to explore the small temple here and enjoy sunset over this charming town. In the afternoon, we enjoy a relaxed biking trip through the most interesting places in the city and around the valley of Luang Prabang. We discover some peaceful places nearby the town. Overnight in Luang Prabang.

Day 11: Luang Prabang to Kuang Si Waterfall (60km)

The scenic Kuang Si Waterfall is the main destination for today. On the way, we pass by some villages from different ethnic groups, including Ban Long Lao, a small Hmong village. From here, we continue to the Kuang Si Waterfall, which has a striking jungle setting. Upon arrival there are plenty of opportunities to swim in the refreshing pools and enjoy a picnic lunch. There is also a Bear Rescue Centre where captured bears have been taken from poachers and rehabilitated and cared for. We’ll take some more time for relaxation and swimming before heading back to Luang Prabang by late afternoon. After relaxing at the waterfall, we cycle back to Luang Prabang. Overnight in Luang Prabang. 

Day 12: Free Time in Luang Prabang

We leave some free time today to recover before transferring to the airport for a connecting flight.