Dirt ‘n’ Secrets

7 Day Off-Road Motorcycle Tour of North Laos

DIRT ‘n’ SECRETS, it does what it says on the tin. This motorcycle tour of Northern Laos kicks off with a visit to…

Tour Highlights

Ride high up into the hills, enjoying the breathtaking views of the surrounding karst limestone mountains.

Explore remote ethnic minority villages that are still untouched and holding on to their traditional ways.

Exhilarating dirt & tarmac riding through the mountains.

Start in the capital city of Vientiane, sitting on the banks of the Mekong River.

Visit the UNESCO World Heritage town of Luang Prabang.

Stay at Long Chen, an old CIA airbase once known as the Most Secret Place on Earth... We will have a BBQ right there on the runway!

Ride through streams & across rivers.

Finish with a boat trip along the Mekong River.

DIRT ‘n’ SECRETS, it does what it says on the tin. This motorcycle tour of Northern Laos kicks off with a visit to an old CIA airbase – once the busiest runway in the entire World – which is known as ‘the most secret place on Earth’. And you’ve guessed it – we ride on a lot of dirt roads, tracks and trails!

North Laos is a stunningly beautiful place – it’s easy to see why the American soldiers felt they’d arrived in paradise when they were posted here during the Vietnam war. Karst limestone mountains, tribal villages, smiling faces, lush green forests and snaking rivers. Pair this beauty with incredible riding, amazing food, heart warming culture and some of the most welcoming locals in the World, and you have a destination that is indeed a paradise for adventure motorcycling!

You’ll be met at Vientiane International airport and transferred to your accommodation – a boutique French colonial style hotel in the heart of the city.

We’ll get together in the afternoon for a trip briefing, followed by sunset drinks and dinner on the banks of the Mekong River, with views of Thailand across the water.

  • Accommodation: 5* hotel with a pool.
  • Included Meals: Dinner.
  • N.B. You’ll want to book a flight to Vientiane airport (VTE) on the morning of the welcome day & we will send a driver to collect you. If this is not possible then please arrive the evening before (we'll happily arrange the extra nights accommodation for you, but please be aware there will be an additional cost for this).

We’ll hit the road early, starting with 70km of paved roads that lead us away from the city. Then, it’s onto the dirt! 60km of small dirt roads and singletrack trails will lead us through Phou Khao Kouay National Park. There’s some challenging trails on this section, so if you didn’t fuel up enough on breakfast or if you’re not feeling too confident on the bike, we can split the group so you can ride the easier dirt road!

Steep rocky trails will through pine forests up to approx 2,000m above sea level. We’ll stop for cold drinks at a h’mong tribal village (which is where we’ll regroup if we did split the group) before descending on the trails with stream crossings and small bridges.

We’ll meet our support vehicle for lunch and then cruise winding tarmac roads through the hills to Long Chen – an old CIA air base surrounded by karst limestone mountains. We’ll finish the day with cold beers and a BBQ on the runway that was once the busiest in the world. This is an incredible place and it’s quite a strange feeling to sit on this runway, enjoying the peaceful village surroundings, thinking about what was happening in this very location some 50-60 years ago.

  • Accommodation: Guesthouse.
  • Included Meals: Breakfast, lunch and dinner.

We’ll hit the road early, starting with 70km of paved roads that lead us away from the city. Then, it’s onto the dirt! 60km of small dirt roads and singletrack trails will lead us through Phou Khao Kouay National Park. There’s some challenging trails on this section, so if you didn’t fuel up enough on breakfast or if you’re not feeling too confident on the bike, we can split the group so you can ride the easier dirt road!

Steep rocky trails will through pine forests up to approx 2,000m above sea level. We’ll stop for cold drinks at a h’mong tribal village (which is where we’ll regroup if we did split the group) before descending on the trails with stream crossings and small bridges.

We’ll meet our support vehicle for lunch and then cruise winding tarmac roads through the hills to Long Chen – an old CIA air base surrounded by karst limestone mountains. We’ll finish the day with cold beers and a BBQ on the runway that was once the busiest in the world. This is an incredible place and it’s quite a strange feeling to sit on this runway, enjoying the peaceful village surroundings, thinking about what was happening in this very location some 50-60 years ago.

  • Accommodation: Guesthouse.
  • Included Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner.

We start with a relaxing cruise on paved roads that snake through the beautiful Nam Et Phou Loue National Park. We then branch off onto the dirt and head north towards the Vietnam border.

The afternoon will serve up some exhilarating singletrack trails through the hills, passing through tribal villages as we go. It gets quite steep as we descend towards the Nam Ou river, but it’s sublime riding and the views of the surrounding limestone mountains are sensational.

We finish the day in a beautiful village on the banks of the Nam Ou River. Sunset beers on the water’s edge will be the perfect way to round off another epic day!>

  • Accommodation: Riverside guesthouse.
  • Included Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner.

We’ll backtrack for 20km before branching north, tackling some challenging singletrack trails through the hills. We cross the Nam Ou River at one of the new Chinese dams and get back onto small dirt roads. The views up here are amazing and we’ll have the tracks to ourselves – apart from the occasional local family on a scooter or roaming buffalo.

The villages are stunning and there’ll be plenty of opportunities to stop and meet the locals. If you’ve not already fallen in love with Lao people, this will be the day that makes that happen! Oh and if you want to buy 1 kilo of fresh tobacco for $8, you’ll have the chance too… Although we’d suggest a handmade wall hanging might be easier to get through customs!

We again finish up on the banks of the Nam Ou river, with our accommodation dwarfed by the towering limestone mountains across the water.

  • Accommodation: Riverside resort with a pool.
  • Included Meals: Breakfast and lunch.

Enjoy an excellent breakfast while enjoying the views across the river before we throw our legs over the Hondas for the final riding day of the trip.

We kick off with a fantastic paved road that snakes up through beautiful countryside. We then turn to point our bikes in the direction of Luang Prabang and ride a stunning road high that seems to traverse a mountain ridge with breathtaking views in every direction. More beautiful villages and more excited locals… you’ll be sad the trip is now coming to an end!

The ancient capital of Luang Prabang made the UNSECO World Heritage list in 1995 – sitting on the banks of the Mekong and Nam Khan river, it’s a beautiful place. We’ll roll into town in the afternoon, stopping for a celebratory riverside beer before dismounting our faithful steeds for the final time as we reach our hotel.

We’ll enjoy a farewell diner in town and quite possibly a few more celebratory beers!

  • Accommodation: 4* hotel with a pool.
  • Included Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner.

After a fantastic buffet breakfast at the hotel, we’ll say our goodbyes. We’ll arrange transport to the international airport. Until next time!

  • Accommodation: Not included.
  • Included Meals: Breakfast.

Twin-share accommodation is included as standard – see ‘Optional Extras’ for single room pricing.

On this tour we stay in excellent 4-5* hotels & resorts in the 3 towns/cities and the best available guesthouses in the more rural locations.

Please see the daily itinerary details for more info on each nights accommodation.

You’ll be collected from Vientiane international airport (airport code: VTE) on the morning of the first day.

At the end of the trip we will arrange transfers from our final hotel to Luang Prabang international airport (airport code: LPQ).

Your tour will be led and managed by a highly experienced member of the Ride Expeditions team (trained as a wilderness first response medic).

Ride Expeditions Ltd is committed to customer satisfaction and consumer financial protection. At no extra cost to you, and in accordance with ‘The Package Travel and Linked Travel Arrangements Regulations 2018’, all passengers booking with Ride Expeditions Ltd are fully insured for the initial deposit, and subsequently the balance of monies paid as detailed in your booking confirmation form.

The policy also includes repatriation if required, arising from the cancellation or curtailment of your travel arrangements due to the insolvency of Ride Expeditions Ltd. This insurance has been arranged by Towergate Travel through Evolution Insurance.

During the COVID-19 crisis, every rider that requested a refund was issued a cash refund.

All fuel for your motorcycle is provided by us.

This motorcycle tour is accompanied by a GPS tracker that displays our live location and track history on an online map. We will provide you with the link and login details which you can then share with your family at home so they can track your progress throughout the trip.

This motorcycle tour will be guided by an experienced local Lao guide.

Breakfast, lunch and dinner is provided on most days.

Please see the daily itinerary to see what meals are included on each day.

A mechanic will be riding at the back of the group, ready to attend to any issues that may arise.

At least one member of the support team will have been trained as a Wilderness First Response medic.

An extensive medical kit including a defibrillator (AED) & stretcher is carried in the support vehicle.

We also have consulting doctors on call, 24/7, who are always ready to assist in the case of an emergency. Our doctors are fully briefed on all riders medical info prior to the tour, they know what we do, where we are riding, exactly what we have in our medical kit and what training our medics have.

Tours are accompanied by GPS trackers and a satellite messenger device so our doctor and office can see exactly where we are and can maintain communication.

If you have you your own suitable & reliable motorcycle at the start point, you are quite welcome to use that for this trip. If not, we will provide a rental motorcycle for you… Please see the Dates & Prices section for available bikes.

The cost of shipping the motorcycle to and from the start and finish destination is also included.

Since the day Ride Expeditions started running tours in Cambodia back in 2012, we have been dedicated to supporting the local community.

Part profits from every motorcycle tour are donated to M’Lop Tapang – a local Cambodian charity dedicated to bettering the lives of young children & their families.

A Ride Expeditions jersey with your name printed on the back.

Playing our part in rainforest & wildlife conservation and in an effort to off-set our carbon emissions, we donate part profits to World Land Trust.

This motorcycle tour of Laos is accompanied by a 4×4 support vehicle with a trailer and spare bike, equipped to carry your luggage, an extensive medical kit + stretcher + defibrillator (AED), drinking water, snacks, tools, spare parts and a satellite messaging device.

We’ll welcome you with a bag of Ride Expeditions goodies which will include:

  • T-shirt;
  • Baseball cap;
  • Map;
  • Stickers;
  • Mug;
  • Keyring;
  • Neck tube.

You’ll need to book flights to arrive in Vientiane, Laos (VTE) on or before the morning of Day 1 of this trip. You will then fly out of Luang Prabang, Laos (LPQ) on the last day of the trip.

It is important you either:

  • Book a flexible flight ticket that allows you to make amendments or cancel without penalty;
  • Have travel insurance that you will reimburse you for out of pocket expenses incurred by a cancelled trip;
  • Do not book your flights until we have notified you that this departure is guaranteed.

Please be aware that you are responsible for all damage caused to the motorcycle.

See ‘Optional Extras’ below for ‘Motorcycle Damage Protection’.

  • Alcohol;
  • Laundry;
  • Souvenirs;
  • Any meals that are not mentioned in the itinerary;
  • Recovery, oil, spare parts, labour or other indirect costs resulting from the damage or repair of your motorcycle;
  • Emergency transportation;
  • Any other item, optional excursion, activity or entrance fee that is not specifically mentioned as being included.

It is a condition of booking that you obtain appropriate travel insurance that covers you for riding the same capacity motorcycle that you’ll be riding on this motorcycle tour.

The insurance must cover emergency evacuation, medical bills, repatriation etc.

Enduro / summer weight adventure style kit is the way to go on this motorcycle tour, rather than road riding kit. If you are opting for enduro kit, we’d recommend you bring extra layers and waterproofs to keep out the wet stuff.

You'll want some decent armoured protection and please do bear in mind that we will sometimes be riding on the road... 'dress for the slide, not the ride!'

All damage to the motorcycle is then covered by us. Please bear in mind that this excludes damage caused by irresponsible riding (for example, a failed wheelie attempt).

Single room accommodation is available every night of the trip.

Yes, please do 🤠 The 3g/4g network is extremely good in Laos and a $5 top up should easily be enough to last you the trip.

As this is a largely inclusive tour, you won’t need much. You will only need money for the items not listed as inclusions, which is mainly just alcohol, souvenirs, one evening meal and any other personal spending. $100 should be quite sufficient.

Yes – only two of the overnight accommodations don’t have wi-fi.

We only schedule our Laos motorcycle tours during the dry season, so we’re unlikely to get caught in too much rain (although it’s always possible, so we recommend bringing a lightweight waterproof layer that you can stuff into your backpack).

There will be a fairly wide range of temperatures, from as low as 10°c (possibly even lower if we’re unlucky!) in the hills, up to 35°c in the lower altitudes. It’s therefore important to carry a backpack with some extra layers inside.

Laos locals enjoy their meat and there is very little on the standard menu that is 100% vegetarian or vegan. While we never let you go hungry, and we will bring extra supplies with us if required, please be aware that the options will be quite limited. We’ll ask you about your dietary preferences in a pre-tour form and we’ll plan accordingly.

As for food allergies, we will make every effort to communicate your requirements to the kitchen. If you have concerns, please do get in touch so we can discuss these with you.

This depends where you are from originally, but the likelihood is that you’ll need a visa for Laos. You can get a tourist visa upon arrival at the airport or you can apply for an e-visa online in advance.

Follow this link for the most up to date entry requirements for Laos. This link to the UK foreign office website – if you are not a UK resident, please search for the equivalent info from your home country’s foreign office.

Visa costs, if applicable, are not included in the tour price.

To secure your place we simply need a £500 non-refundable deposit. The remainder does not need to be paid until 60 days prior to the tour start date.

Yes. Here at Ride Expeditions, we take the necessary precautions to ensure that we protect both ourselves and you as the customer, with insurances covering financial failure, public liability, professional indemnity and employers liability (you will need your own travel insurance).

To obtain this insurance we must meet strict safety standards and local regulations. We must also carry out thorough risk assessments about all aspects of a tour before tyres can hit tarmac (…or dirt!).

Yes. All passengers booking with Ride Expeditions Ltd are fully insured for the initial deposit, and subsequently the balance of monies paid as detailed in your booking confirmation form. The policy also includes repatriation if required, arising from the cancellation or curtailment of your travel arrangements due to the insolvency of Ride Expeditions Ltd. This insurance has been arranged by Towergate Travel through Evolution Insurance.

Not riding the motorcycle, no (although this will of course depend on the extent of your limited mobility). However, we may be able to accommodate you in our support vehicle. We advise you to give us a call and we can discuss.

For the most accurate and up to date info, we advise you visit the ‘Travel Health Pro’ website.

Please also consult with your own doctor at home at least 8 weeks before your trip.

To be legally riding in Laos you are required to carry your local driving licence, which must cover the size of bike you will be riding. This will also be a stipulation of any travel insurance company too.

You will also need an International Driving Permit (IDP). An IDP is basically an official, multi-language translation of your driving licence.

It is also a legal requirement that you carry your passport with you at all times. The police may issue a fine if you’re unable to present ID when asked.

Average group sizes are 8-9 riders and we limit the groups to 12 riders.

If you cancel your booking before departure, cancellation charges will be applied as follows:

  • 61 days or more before tour start date – retention of deposit
  • 42-60 days before tour start date – retention of 50% of tour price
  • 28-41 days before tour start date – retention of 70% of tour price
  • 0-27 days before tour start date – retention of 100% tour price

Please refer to our Terms & Conditions for further info regarding cancellations, changes and transferring your trip to a friend.

For the most accurate and up to date info on travel advice for Laos, we advise you to visit the foreign office website.

Follow this link for Laos advice from the UK foreign office. As we are a UK company, this is the official government advice we follow. If you are not a UK resident, we advise you search for the equivalent info from your own country’s foreign office, as travel advice may differ.

This tour is predominantly unpaved, both on dirt roads and singletrack trails. While a good amount of off-road experience would be beneficial, you certainly do not need to be a pro. This tour is not suitable for riders with no off-road experience.

There are some technical sections on the route, but the most difficult of these is optional (we can split the group if required, allowing you to ride the easier dirt road).

There are also some fairly long days in the saddle, so you’ll want to have some previous experience riding a motorcycle over long distances.

If you are unsure of your experience level, please let us know and we will talk you through the riding. We may also recommend you take an off-road adventure rider training course prior to signing up to the trip.

The official local currency of Laos is ‘Kip’, however you do not need to acquire any of this prior to your arrival. You can either withdraw Kip from an ATM when you arrive, or easily change up major currencies in the major towns & cities.

Don’t forget to tell your bank you are heading to Laos as without this information they will most likely think some rogue hacker is dipping into your account and promptly block your card.

The minimum required number for this trip to run is 6 riders. We reserve the right to cancel the tour if this number is not met and we will provide you with a minimum of 56 days notice. Please know that this is an absolute last resort for us and we will always do everything in our power to avoid this happening.

We accept GBP payments by Visa, Mastercard & American Express and direct bank transfers. Please get in touch if you would rather pay in another currency – we’ll do our best to accommodate!

Laos have an array of plugs and sockets: type A, B, C, E and F.

Dates & Pricing

Tour Price

  • Rider (Incl. bike rental): £1675
  • Rider (own bike): £1375

The Motorcycles

  • Honda CRF 250L (Included)

Optional Extras

  • Motorcycle Damage Waiver + £125
  • Single Room Supplement + £185
  • Start Date: February 7, 2022
  • End Date: February 13, 2022
  • Only 5 places remaining.

Expedition Leader:

Toby

Tour Price

  • Rider (Incl. bike rental): £1675
  • Rider (own bike): £1375

The Motorcycles

  • Honda CRF 250L (Included)

Optional Extras

  • Motorcycle Damage Waiver + £125
  • Single Room Supplement + £185
  • Start Date: December 1, 2022
  • End Date: December 7, 2022

Expedition Leader:

Ian

Tour Price

  • Rider (Incl. bike rental): £1675
  • Rider (own bike): £1375

The Motorcycles

  • Honda CRF 250L (Included)

Optional Extras

  • Motorcycle Damage Waiver + £125
  • Single Room Supplement + £185
  • Start Date: January 20, 2023
  • End Date: January 26, 2023

Expedition Leader:

Ian