Start­ing in Thakhek, the Thakhek Motor­bike Loop (Also called Tha Khaek Loop, The Loop, and Kong Lor Loop) is one of the more adven­tures attrac­tions of Laos. Tow­er­ing karst peaks, the 7.5‑kilometer Kon­glor Cave, indige­nous vil­lages, lush forests, water­falls and count­less caves and swim­ming holes. All tak­en in at your own pace from a motor­bike. With mul­ti­ple motor­cy­cle and scoot­er rental options, guest­hous­es and places to eat through­out the 450 km loop it is a well estab­lished and high­ly rec­om­mend­ed part of a more adven­tur­ous trip to Laos. It might just be the high­light of your whole trip!

Kong Lor Cave, Thakhek Loop

Kong Lor Cave, Thakhek Loop

Thakhek — Khammouane Province, Laos

Over­look­ing the Mekong Riv­er in Cen­tral Laos Thakhek is a for­mer French Colo­nial town with it’s cur­rent claim to fame being the Thakhek Moto Loop. For the adven­tur­ous trav­el­er look­ing for some­thing dif­fer­ent it just might be one of the best places in Laos. It’s not about the laid-back island vibe of Don Det fur­ther South or the tem­ples of Luang Pra­bang or the par­ty spir­it of Vang Vieng. Here it’s about the Laos Caves and the motor­bike adven­ture to explore them.

A band of karst (ter­rain with caves) that starts in Thakhek stretch­es through to Viet­nam and on its East­ern end includes the largest cave in the world Hang Son Doong. That’s right, if you head East from Thakhek and kept going, you’d arrive at the largest cave in the world Hang Son Doong, as well as a host of oth­er fan­tas­tic caves. The Caves, that’s what this area is best for. Some of the best caves in South­east Asia and per­haps the world, and it all starts in Thakhek. To me, this region is one of the best places in Laos. It’s cer­tain­ly one of the best places in Laos for an adventure.

Logistics and the Latest Information

Logis­ti­cal infor­ma­tion (such as motor­bike re) can be found at the end of this guide. I’ve got a Thakhek Loop FAQ page with lots more infor­ma­tion as well as a page com­ing chron­i­cling the famous Loop trip report book at Thakek Trav­el Lodge.
Days Required: 3 to 5
Dis­tance: ~450 km (includes Kong Lor Cave and some small side trips.)

The Thakhek Loop in Four Parts

I’ve bro­ken the Thakhek Loop into 4 parts (ide­al­ly each part is a day) as this is prob­a­bly the most com­mon way it is done. I would devote at least 3 days, but 4 days is what I’d rec­om­mend, while 5 or 6 days, even bet­ter and will give you more time swim­ming, explor­ing caves, relax­ing, and check­ing out­side roads.

Laos Children Thakhek Loop

Bat­man is in fash­ion with Laos children

There are sep­a­rate arti­cles for most of the caves on The Loop so if some­thing inter­ests you check out the linked arti­cle on it. I’ve now dri­ven The Loop twice, well 2.5 times, both in the wet and dry sea­sons and spent an extra few weeks explor­ing the sur­round­ing area. I’ve writ­ten the guides I wish I had.

Part 1: Thakhek to Tha Lang (Nakai Plateau)
Part 2: Tha Lang to Nahin
Part 3: Kong Lor Cave (Tham Kong Lo)
Part 4: Nahin to Thakhek

Sunset over Ban Nahin, Thakhek Loop

Sun­set over Ban Nahin


Part 1: Thakhek to Tha Lang — The Caves

High­lights: 1. Xiang Liap Cave 2. Tham Pha Nya Inh Cave 3. Tham Aen Cave
Dis­tance: 95 km
Tham Nang Aen Cave River

Tham Nang Aen Cave River

Pret­ty much as soon as you leave Thakhek head­ing east on Route 12 you are in the midst of the karst moun­tains and jun­gle. (Karst is used to describe land­scapes made of sol­u­ble rock such as lime­stone and is prime ter­ri­to­ry for caves). It’s a fan­tas­tic sight. This por­tion of the trip is some­times called “Cave Alley”
But now where do you stop? With so many pos­si­ble caves to explore it can be daunt­ing, which to choose from. I’ll give a brief sum­ma­ry and pic­tures here of each and you can read more about the indi­vid­ual caves on the sep­a­rate pages devot­ed to them.
It would be easy to spend an entire day here so unless you have 5 days to do the trip, I rec­om­mend vis­it­ing maybe 3 caves on the first day (the 3 list­ed above in the High­lights are my picks) and if you real­ly want to see more, then vis­it this area as a day-trip from Thakhek. I actu­al­ly spent almost 2 weeks check­ing out caves in the area after my sec­ond time doing the Thakhek Loop, includ­ing Xi Bang Fai Riv­er Cave.
Cave Alley - Thakhek Loop

Mika dom­i­nat­ing Cave Alley — Thakhek Loop

1. Elephant Cave (Tham Xang)

The first pos­si­ble stop on The Loop. It’s a holy Bud­dhist cave with a large open­ing. One of the rocks near the top of the cave looks like an ele­phant head. It was used by locals as a shel­ter dur­ing the Secret War/Vietnam War.

Looking out of Tham Xang

Look­ing out of Tham Xang

A few kilo­me­ters out­side of Thakhek on Route 12, look for a sign on your right. It’s 1.5 km down the dirt road. There was a short stream cross­ing when I went. 5,000 kip entrance fee.

2. Buddha Cave

This Bud­dha Cave is filled with 229 bronze Bud­dhist stat­ues up to 500 years old which can be seen inside behind a short gate. It wasn’t until 2004 that the cave was dis­cov­ered or “re-dis­cov­ered”. The cave itself isn’t spec­tac­u­lar but more of a religious/historic site. Pho­tog­ra­phy is not allowed inside the cave. More infor­ma­tion and pic­tures can be found here.

Buddha Cave Thakhek Laos

Bud­dha Cave Thakhek Laos

Head­ing East from Thakhek on Route 12, around 4 kilo­me­ters turn left down a dirt road when you see the sign for “Bud­dha Cave and Pa Seuam Cave”. It’s 6 km on a dirt road. Dur­ing the rainy sea­son, the road has been known to get rough but was quite well grad­ed in the dry sea­son. After about 4 km take anoth­er left at the sign for the cave. It’s about 1 km fur­ther down the road from Ele­phant Cave.

3. Pa Seuam Cave — River cave near Buddha Cave

Tham Pa Seuam (Pa Seuam Cave) is a beau­ti­ful 3‑kilometer long riv­er cave which can be ful­ly appre­ci­at­ed by rent­ing kayaks as part of a 3‑hour tour inside or swim­ming through the cave. Oth­er­wise, you can walk to the entrance of the cave but can­not go very far inside (free) with­out swimming.

Tham Pa Seuam Cave

Tham Pa Seuam Cave

It shares the same park­ing area as the Bud­dha Cave and is an 800-meter walk through the for­est and next to a beau­ti­ful lake.

See this post for more infor­ma­tion on Tham Pa Seam.


4. Xieng Liap Cave

A short riv­er cave with a large open­ing. You can swim inside in both the wet and the dry sea­sons. I def­i­nite­ly rec­om­mend stop­ping here. It’s a short walk through the jun­gle after park­ing. If you have a head­lamp you can use it to enter the side (left entrance) before going into the main part of the cave. Dur­ing the wet sea­son, you will need to hire a boat to take you up the riv­er and through the cave. It’s worth it.

Xieng Liap Cave Thakhek Loop

Xieng Liap Cave

On Route 12, about 13–14 KM East of Thakhek, you will see a sign for the cave, just after the bridge, pull off on a dirt road (South. Right-hand side of the road if you’re com­ing from Thakhek). The cave is marked on as “Entrance to Xieng Liap Cave”. If you see the sign for “The Falang” or “Green Climbers Home” then you’ve gone too far. There might be a man there charg­ing 5,000 per bike for park­ing. He might try to charge you 10,000.  See this post for more infor­ma­tion and pictures.

5. Tha Falang — Swimming Hole

Tha Falang is a pleas­ant sec­tion of riv­er down a rough dirt road. A pop­u­lar spot for the French in Colo­nial times, it is now a well-used swim­ming hole and rest area with locals and for­eign­ers, which means you prob­a­bly won’t be alone and the area has been known to get trashed.
Tha Falang in Dry Season

Tha Falang in Dry Season

A few min­utes fur­ther down the road from Xieng Liap you will see a sign for Tha Falang on the left side of the road. It’s about half a kilo­me­ter on a rough dirt road that I would com­plete­ly avoid if it’s rained a lot recent­ly. There have been some reports of theft so keep an eye on your stuff.

6. Tham Pha Nya Inh Cave

A beau­ti­ful Holy cave draped with prayer flags, not far from the road. Inside the cave, a path to the left goes past some nice for­ma­tions to a Bud­dhist shrine and a good view of the cave. Straight down into the cave, fol­low a small path to a beau­ti­ful under­ground riv­er open to the out­side. When the sun hits the water is makes it glow a beau­ti­ful turquoise. This is a holy cave and swim­ming is forbidden.
Tham Pha Nya Inh Cave

Tham Pha Nya Inh Cave

Head­ing East from Thakhek there isn’t any sign mark­ing Tham Pha Nya Inh Cave. Short­ly after the sign for Tha Falang and right after a sharp bend in the road a dirt road goes off to the left where you’ll see a brick gate­way (If you see the entrance to Green Climbers Home you’ve gone too far). Dri­ve about 400 meters down the dirt road to the park­ing area. Climb some cement stairs to get to the entrance. No Fee.

7. Tham Nang Aen Cave

The largest cave on the list for day 1 is Tham Nang Aen. The first part of the cave is light up with all kinds of gar­ish col­ors (I per­son­al­ly pre­fer neu­tral col­ored lights). If you’ve nev­er been inside a big cave before you will enjoy this one. The high­light of the cave, how­ev­er, is on the boat ride through the under­ground riv­er. I kept imag­in­ing this was some­thing like the riv­er Styx, into Hades. In con­trast to Kong Lor Cave, this riv­er cave is light up and the boat ride is a lot more peace­ful with­out an out­board motor (keep an eye out for the var­i­ous fig­ures through­out the cave). The for­ma­tions here are also much larg­er and more var­ied than Kong Lor.

I HIGHLY rec­om­mend the boat ride through the riv­er cave. For the cave entrance with the boat ride, it’s 50,000 kip (with­out the boat ride it’s 30,000). It takes about 2 hours for the boat ride there and back, which includes see­ing the oth­er cave entrance and walk­ing through var­i­ous cav­erns with some cool for­ma­tions, drink­ing from a pool of holy water drip­ping from the ceil­ing and a huge pile of guano. (It’s about 45 min ‑1 hr of walking).

Tham Nang Aen Cave

Tham Nang Aen Cave

There’s a big sign for the cave on the right side of the road. There is an onsite restau­rant. Open from 8:00 AM to 6:00 PM

8. Nam Theun 2 Visitor Center

Just before dri­ving up to Nakai and the Nakai Plateau you’ll see the Nam The­un 2 Vis­i­tor Cen­ter on your right, near the dam. I’ve nev­er been inside as it was closed the 3 times I drove by it. But if you arrive in the mid­dle of the day it should be open.

9. Song Sou Waterfall

Leav­ing the Nam T2 vis­i­tor Cen­ter just after the bridge is a sign for “Song Sou Water­fall” (Tad Song Souk on and a dirt road on the right. Dri­ve a few km down the dirt road, park and walk anoth­er ten min­utes to get to the waterfall.
Boats on the Nakai Plateau

Boats on the Nakai Plateau


The road climbs steeply up to the Nakai Plateau where you’ll notice the air get­ting cool­er and you’ll soon be wind­ing through wet­lands and dead trees.
You can find a few guest­hous­es in Nakai but I rec­om­mend dri­ving fur­ther to Tha Lang where there are two much bet­ter accom­mo­da­tion options.
Nakai is a good place to fill up on gas to get you Lak Sao, the next big town.

Sabaidee Guesthouse

Famous for its night­ly bar­be­cue and friend­ly atmos­phere Sabaidee Guest­house is a good choice for the first night on the Thakhek Loop. The rooms are pret­ty basic but afford­able and the food at the on-site restau­rant is good. There are usu­al­ly lots of trav­el­ers here so you won’t be lonely.
The night­ly Bar­be­cue is 50,000 kip with lots of choic­es and includes dessert. A great end to a long day of explor­ing caves. Grab a Beer Lao, (or 3) and relax.
Pri­vate room with a pri­vate bath­room, 2 beds: 70,000 — 75,000 kip
Bed in Dorm (Fan): 40,000 kip
Fam­i­ly Room, 3 peo­ple (Air con­di­tion­er): 120,000 kip
Dri­ving through Tha­lang you’ll see a sign for Saibadee Guest­house on the right side of the road just before you cross the main bridge.

Phosy Thalang

Phosy Tha­lang is anoth­er good choice for the first night and usu­al­ly takes the over­flow of peo­ple if Saibadee Guest­house is full. It’s on the left side of the road as you dri­ve into Tha­lang (Before Saibadee). Has a good on-site restau­rant and nice views of the lake. Prices are usu­al­ly the same as Saibadee 75,000 kip for a pri­vate room, 2 people.

Part 2: Tha Lang (Nakai Plateau) to Nahin

High­lights: 1. Bud­dha stat­ues  2. Drag­on Cave  3. Cool Pool
Dis­tance: 105 km
Dead trees on the Nakai Plateau

Dead trees on the Nakai Plateau

The Nakai Plateau is def­i­nite­ly an inter­est­ing and unique place. Dead trees and water dom­i­nate the land­scape here. If you have a spare day it’s pos­si­ble to hang out up here and do a boat trip on the many water­ways. If you’re inter­est­ed, inquire at your guest­house and they can arrange this for you. It’s a good qui­et place to relax if that’s what you’re look­ing for.

Dead trees will dom­i­nate the start of your dri­ve today as you weave through the Nam The­un 2 Reser­voir and a few small vil­lages. There’s a stark beau­ty to the trees and their reflec­tions in the water.

1. Buddha Statues

Buddhist Statues leaving Thalang

Bud­dhist Stat­ues leav­ing Thalang

As you reach the end of the Nakai Plateau, leav­ing the world of lakes and dead trees behind you, keep an eye out for some stat­ues of Bud­dha carved into the rock along a wind­ing sec­tion of road. Just be care­ful as there are a few blind cor­ners here.

It’s pos­si­ble to stop at one of the pull-outs to get a view of the val­ley below and Lak Sao in the dis­tance. In the wet sea­son, this is a beau­ti­ful area with vibrant rice fields.

Crop Burning near Lak Sao

Crop Burn­ing near Lak Sao

Lak Sao

Lak Sao is noth­ing spe­cial, but it’s a big­ger town where you can fill up on gas, use the ATM if need­ed, see a mechan­ic or just get some­thing to eat before the next leg of the trip to Nahin. There are Guest­hous­es in Lak Sao but I would­n’t rec­om­mend stay­ing here unless you have to.

Khmer Buddhist Temple, Lak Sao

Khmer Bud­dhist Tem­ple, Lak Sao

through some beau­ti­ful moun­tains cov­ered in lush jun­gle and rice fields. It’s a great dri­ve and some call this the most beau­ti­ful sec­tion on The Loop

2. Dragon Cave (Mangkone Cave)

Dragon Cave, Mangkone Cave

Drag­on Cave, Mangkone Cave

As you dri­ve through the jun­gle-cov­ered karst moun­tains west of Lak Xao You’ll see a sign for “Drag­on Cave” on the right (Marked as “Mangkone Cave” on Out­side the cave there are many Bud­dhist stat­ues carved right into the rock under dense jun­gle cov­er, the well-lit Drag­on Cave starts off through a nar­row entrance in the rock. Walk along an under­ground riv­er (watch your head) to some beau­ti­ful cave fea­tures. A pas­sage opens to the out­side behind tall flut­ed for­ma­tions. Turn left and walk amongst sta­lac­tites and sta­lag­mites in a short but impres­sive sec­tion of the cave.
It’s not a very big cave, but a worth­while stop. Enjoy a beer Lao or cof­fee at the new­ly opened cafe in front of the cave. The cave is closed dur­ing the wet sea­son as it gets flooded.

3. Cool Springs “Cool Pool”

A pleas­ant area to hang out and refresh in the cold turquoise spring water.

Cool Springs, Cool Pool

Cool Springs, Cool Pool

You’ll see a big sign on the right side of the road “Cool Pool 4.5 km” It’s a dirt road and can be quite a mud­dy mess in the wet sea­son. 10,000 kip per person.

Some beau­ti­ful scenery on the dri­ve out to the Cool Springs.

A woman Fish­ing on the Thakhek Loop

Don’t for­get to stop at the view­point over­look­ing Nahin as you descend into town (Watch out for rough patch­es and boul­ders on the road here). I just pulled over to what looked like a clear­ing in the trees and was greet­ed by some very friend­ly locals, one of whom gave me the cake he was eat­ing. These peo­ple are so kind.

Sunset over Ban Nahin, Thakhek Loop

Sun­set over Ban Nahin


If you have the time or are doing the trip in 3 days you can opt to dri­ve out to the vil­lage of Kong Lor 40 km from Nahin, where there are plen­ty of lodg­ing options. Though I don’t rec­om­mend doing this dri­ve in the dark as there are lots of cows (they some­times sleep in the mid­dle of the road) and rogue potholes.

Sanhak Guest House

A great place to stay, clean, friend­ly staff and a good on-site restau­rant. Lots of infor­ma­tion is avail­able here on the local attrac­tions as well as motor­cy­cle rentals and tours.

Dorm Bed: 30,000 kip
Pri­vate Room: 50k to 60k kip (fan only. Price goes up if you need A/C)

Turn left off Route 8 at the first road in Nahin. San­hak Guest­house is just a few min­utes down the road on the right.

Water Buffalo in Ban Nahin

Water Buf­fa­lo in Ban Nahin


Part 3: Kong Lor Cave (Tham Kong Lo)

Kong Lor Cave, Thakhek Loop

Kong Lor Cave, Thakhek Loop

High­lights: 1. Kong Lor Cave 2. Vil­lages on the oth­er side of the cave.
A high­light of the Thakhek Loop moto adven­ture Kong Lor Cave is a must-see for this region and for many, a major high­light of any trip to Laos. 40 kilo­me­ters off the main road, past rice fields and through small vil­lages backed by jun­gle-cov­ered karst peaks, lies Kong Lor Cave.
Around Kong Lor Village

Around Kong Lor Village

The day begins head­ing South toward Kong Lor Cave. Fol­low signs through Ban Nahin. There is a rough sec­tion of dirt road but it’s short and most of the 40 km is nice­ly paved, up until the last few km at the end. Savor the dri­ve out there and keep an eye out for cows on the road.
Driving to Kong Lor Cave

Dri­ving to Kong Lor Cave

1. Kong Lor Cave (Tham Kong Lo)

Inside Kong Lor Cave

Inside Kong Lor Cave


Fees ($1 USD =  ~8,000 KIP):
Park­ing: 5,000
Entry: 2,000
Boat Tour: 110,000 for the first per­son and 10,000 for each addi­tion­al per­son up to 3 peo­ple (maybe 4, if you have small people)
Get­ting into a long wood­en boat (called a sam­pan) with an out­board motor, your guide will take you through 7.5 kilo­me­ters of an under­ground riv­er as it twists and turns far below the earth’s sur­face until you emerge back into the day­light at a few remote vil­lages. Dur­ing the first part of the trip through the cave, you will stop at a short walk­ing sec­tion where the jagged sta­lac­tites, sta­lag­mites, and oth­er cave fea­tures are illu­mi­nat­ed. Oth­er­wise, the cave is pitch black, light only by your headlamp.
Kong Lor Cave - Thakhek Loop

Kong Lor Cave — Thakhek Loop

Your feet will get wet in the boat and in the dry sea­son, you will have to get out of the boat in a few places while the guide pulls it through small rapids. Bring a dry bag for your valuables.

2. Ban Natane — The other side of Kong Lor

On the oth­er side of Kong Lor Cave is Ban Natane and some oth­er small vil­lages. If you have time I rec­om­mend you rent a bicy­cle (20,000 kip for 2 hours) and cycle around a small loop marked with small bicy­cle signs. Food and refresh­ments are avail­able. You can also stay a night or two in Ban Natane if you have time and want to expe­ri­ence off the beat­en path rur­al Laos.
Ban Natane and surrounding villages

Ban Natane and sur­round­ing villages

For the full write-up on Kong Lor Cave check out my oth­er guide (Too much information/pictures to do it jus­tice here)

Kong Lor Cave — Com­plete Guide

Click here for more pic­tures of Kong Lor Cave and the sur­round­ing area

After Kong Lor Cave be care­ful of cows on the dri­ve back to Ban Nahin. Try to avoid doing this in the dark.
If you only have three days to do The Loop then you will prob­a­bly be dri­ving back to Thakhek after vis­it­ing Kong Lor. Try to leave ear­li­er in the day. It’s a bit of a dri­ve for one day.

Part 4: Nahin to Thakhek

High­lights:1. Lime­stone For­est View­point Look­out 2. Kong Leng Lake
Dis­tance: 146 km
The most dri­ving is on the last day back to Thakhek. A 100 km stretch on the main high­way is often a source of com­plaints by Loop­ers, but in com­par­i­son to all the neg­a­tive com­ments, I didn’t think it was all that bad the 2 times I’ve dri­ven it. You’re still pass­ing small towns and there’s Kong Leng Lake (Khoun Kong Leng) and a vis­it to the “Great Wall of Laos” to break up the day if you want to stop.

1. Nasanam Waterfall

Leav­ing Nahin on the right-hand side of the road you’ll see a sign for Nasanam Water­fall. If you decide to vis­it here set aside at least 3 hours. It’s about 3 kilo­me­ters to the water­fall, half of which can be dri­ven. A steep trail through the jun­gle. Dur­ing the dry sea­son, the water­fall will like­ly just be a trick­le or mist of water.

In 2008 an Aus­tralian man went hik­ing alone and got caught in a storm, attacked by flesh-eat­ing lizards and almost died. After 11 days in the jun­gle and on the brink of death, he was final­ly res­cued and flown out by heli­copter. Read more about it here.

2. Limestone Forest Viewpoint

Limestone Forest Viewpoint

Lime­stone For­est Viewpoint

A view­ing spot of the “Lime­stone For­est” right next to the road at the end of an uphill sec­tion not long after leav­ing Nahin. A beau­ti­ful view and def­i­nite­ly worth a stop.

From here you can con­tin­ue on com­plet­ing the “Full” Loop dri­ving back on the long 100km stretch of high­way 13.

Your oth­er option is to dri­ve the 210 km back to Thakhek the way you came. It will be a much longer day as these roads aren’t as straight as the last 100km on High­way 13 and in my expe­ri­ence, there are just as many semi-trucks on High­way 12 (Cave Alley) going to and from the Viet­namese bor­der, com­pared to high­way 13. But it is an option and will def­i­nite­ly be a more beau­ti­ful drive.

Oth­er­wise, con­tin­ue West on High­way 8 to Vieng Kham and the junc­tion of High­way 13 and Hwy 8. A good place to refu­el and eat.

Take a left here, head­ing South on Hwy 13 to Thakhek. It’s a most­ly straight 100 km on the high­way back to Thakhek.

3. Khun Kong Leng Lake

Kong Leng Lake is a pleas­ant swim­ming hole and depend­ing on when you could be filled with locals, beer drink­ing Loop­ers or a mix of both (or per­haps if you get lucky you’ll have the place to your­self). Beau­ti­ful crys­tal clear blue water for a refresh­ing swim on your dri­ve back to Thakhek.

Kong Leng Lake

Khun Kong Leng Lake

Head­ing South on High­way 13 about 70 km from the junc­tion where you turned left, you will see a sign for Kong Leng Lake. It’s 21 km on a fair­ly well-main­tained dirt road (though con­di­tions can vary, espe­cial­ly after the rainy sea­son).  There are inner tubes for rent as well as refresh­ments near the pool. 5,000 kip entry fee.

Back on Hwy 13, it’s anoth­er 30 km to Thakhek. There’s a con­fus­ing split of the road not far from Thakhek, near the bor­der cross­ing to Thai­land. The road splits into two with con­fus­ing signs. Both roads meet up a few min­utes lat­er, so don’t wor­ry, you can go either left or right.


Thakhek Loop Logistical Information

I have a few oth­er guides for The Loop in the works includ­ing an FAQ page. For the time being, this should help you with the logis­ti­cal side of things like rent­ing a motorcycle.

Renting a Motorcycle or Scooter for the Thakhek Loop

Sunny Days on The Loop

Mika cruis­ing on The Loop

There are a few places in Thakhek to rent Motor­bikes and Scoot­ers. With any motor­bike rental take pic­tures and/or video of any dam­age before you rent the bike. Also, check the bike to make sure every­thing is work­ing prop­er­ly, brakes, horn, gear shift­ing, head­light etc. Give it a test dri­ve before you commit.

Wang Wang

Locat­ed in the town cen­ter at the bot­tom of the KGB Hos­tel. It’s the cheap­est option and can get quite busy in the morn­ing. Get there ear­ly (or the evening before) to secure your scoot­er and for more motor­bike options.

I rent­ed from Wang Wang the first time I did The Loop and my friend rent­ed one the sec­ond time (I had my own motor­bike) and every­thing was fine. I’ve heard some bad reviews about the scoot­ers not being main­tained as well as they are at Mad Mon­key but I’ve nev­er had an issue with the motor­bikes. If you want to spend a bit more than you can go with Mad Mon­key. Bet­ter rep­u­ta­tion, more sol­id bikes, (based on reviews) high­er price.

Mad Monkey

Owned by a Ger­man these bikes are said to be of bet­ter qual­i­ty (no fake Chi­nese copies) and bet­ter main­tained. They are a bit more expen­sive, how­ev­er. If mon­ey isn’t an issue you can rent your bike here. Just down the street from Wang Wang in the cen­ter of town by the Mekong River.

Mr. Ku

Mr. Ku’s is locat­ed at the Thakhek Trav­el Lodge and if you’re stay­ing there you can rent from him. Mr. Ku is cred­it­ed with help­ing to estab­lish and pop­u­lar­ize the loop, so if he’s around he might be able to answer ques­tions. More expen­sive than Wang Wang.


Road Conditions

There is no longer a large unpaved sec­tion after Tha Lang like is described in some of the old­er blogs. Some of these blogs have an “Updat­ed” with a recent date, but still, show the dirt sec­tion which is very mis­lead­ing. It doesn’t exist anymore.
There will prob­a­bly always be some rough patch­es some­where it seems, but they are short. Always be on the look­out for pot­holes. The steep hilly sec­tion before and after the road to Kong Lor usu­al­ly has some rock fall or rough patch­es of road, and the last por­tion of the road to Kong Lor is rough (and a short sec­tion at the begin­ning), be extra care­ful on these sections.
Dur­ing the rainy sea­son, the dirt roads on side trips like the road to “Cool Springs” (pic­tured below) might be a wet mud­dy mess!
Rainy season on the Thakhek Loop

Rainy sea­son on the Thakhek Loop. Mika was­n’t too hap­py about this mud.

The Most Up-To-Date Information:

For the lat­est infor­ma­tion, there is a famous log book at Thakek Trav­el Lodge (Mr. Ku is locat­ed here as well). Peo­ple put their trip reports and what they think is good and the con­di­tions of things like water­falls, roads, and caves. Some of them are quite artis­tic and/or enter­tain­ing to read. If you have time you might want to stop by here to check out the book, even if you aren’t stay­ing here. I’ve read through them both times I’ve done the loop and dis­tilled what I think most peo­ple (includ­ing myself) seem to like, as well as addi­tion­al things to see if you have the time, and I’ve includ­ed them in this guide.

Thakhek Loop Map

A few maps of the Thakhek Loop includ­ing some hand-drawn maps cour­tesy of the Trip Report Book at the Thakhek Trav­el Lodge And the won­der­ful artists.

Thakhek Loop Map 01

Thakhek Loop Map 01

Click the pic­tures to enlarge the map. Feel free to save them to your phone.


Just The Pictures

The Loop in Pic­tures. Click here to see just the pic­tures of The Loop includ­ing addi­tion­al pic­tures not post­ed here.

In clos­ing, I leave you with this mes­sage from a “Loop­er” I don’t know the name of but whos sketch and trip report I thor­ough­ly enjoyed in the Thakhek Trav­el Lodge Trip Book.

Travel Lodge Book Buffalo

Safe Ride!

Safe Ride and have fun! Come back here and let me know how your trip went.