Mountain Biking Laos

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Mountain Biking in Laos

We went on a 9-day, guided mountain biking trip to Laos with Spice Roads (operated by Tiger Trails).  We booked the trip on Black Friday and got a 25% discount.  The riding was mostly on unsealed road, with some tarmac and some double-track.  Distance were long, ranging from 35km on an easy day to 77km on our longest day.  They say Laos is a mountainous country, with about 80% of the country covered in mountains, and each day had significant elevation gain, as much as 1200m.  While the riding was not technically difficult, above average bike fitness would be advised. There are options to take a truck with the bikes to shorten some days, so someone with average fitness should be able to do the ride as well.

While the riding itself was not that engaging, we still had a great time with the views, the friendly locals as we rode through small villages and the interesting transfers by boat.  The rivers in Laos are pristine, and the journey takes you through some very remote villages, some only accessible by boat.  We didn’t seem to have good luck with the boats though.  We had 3 boat transfers, and all 3 broke down for various reasons, one because he had water in the engine, one fauled the propellor, and one ran out of fuel.  In the photo below, the engine failed shortly after we had cleared this section of small rapids, which had the boat driver paddling furiously for the shore!

The trip is 7 days long, with 6 days of riding and one day off (long boat transfer).  A typical morning sees us having breakfast in a local guesthouse at about 7am.  Service is typically slow, and there seems to be no way of speeding up the process, like ordering the night before, so we are only able to set off by about 8:30am.  Sometimes, we take a truck or the support van up to the top of the first hill to shorten the ride.  We ride til lunch, stopping at a village to have some noodles and coffee.  The whole village usually comes out to curiously look at the foreigners.  We finish the ride and get to a local guesthouse around 4pm, where we usually have beer, shower up and have a Lao dinner around 6pm.

As a mountain biking destination, there are better destinations in South East Asia, but as a mountain biker who wants to see Laos, this is probably one of the best ways to do it.  For more photos from the trip, please visit my Instagram.

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