Fancy exploring a different culture, a unique country and stunning scenery all on two wheels? Then read this guide to Laos cycling and mountain biking holidays, as the highlands and lowlands of this lovely country offer a special experience.
Laos has fantastic cycling for the adventurous. The rugged uplands to the north are great for challenging mountainous riding while the southern lowlands offer biking on the flat against a rural backdrop.
Guide to Laos cycling
Laos is mostly undeveloped, so any kind of travel there requires a willingness to rough it a little. Even its capital, Vientiane, feels like a quiet backwater.
The rural areas are a step back in time to a simpler world. People live in small villages among their animals. They farm largely for subsistence in the same way they have for generations.
Poverty and poor infrastructure means that most roads are mostly unsealed. This makes for a bumpy and sometimes challenging ride, even in the flat south. The reward is stunning views and a warm welcome, in Asia’s most laid-back country.
Laos cycling and mountain biking holidays
Numerous tour companies arrange guided cycling and mountain bike trips in Laos. Although many people take or hire their own bikes and travel independently.
Either way, you’ll need to be fit. And if you’re travelling independently you need a good knowledge of bicycle maintenance, especially if you’re planning to travel off the beaten track.
Most of the riding in Laos is on unpaved roads and paths. So don’t expect to be exploring single track or technical trails on Laos cycling and mountain biking holidays.
Cycling in Laos is more about exploring the country. On a bike you’ll get out into the rural backwater and see so much more than if you travel by bus. The countryside is beautiful, but it’s about bikepacking rather than either road cycling or exciting MTB trails.
Accommodation in basic guesthouses is cheap and usually easy to find. Camping is also an option, there are not many official campsites but wild camping is possible. Just be aware there are still areas with landmines.
Where to MTB and cycle in Laos
Laos’ main airport is in Vientiane, right near the Thai border. There are a lot of cycle routes in and around the city heading out into the countryside.
Vang Vieng is not too far away and well worth a visit. It’s a backpackers mecca with a great vibe. From here there are many day trips and you can hire bikes to explore the area.
You should take time out to visit the beautiful town of Luang Prabang with its white and gold temples and busy night market. From there, the River Mekong heads west towards the Thai border. Following its course will take you through some beautifully remote countryside.
A trip to the north will take you through rolling hills and misty valleys. Head up towards challenging mountains that are home to Laos’ isolated hill-tribes and some very tough riding.
Head to the far south and you’ll find a world of sleepy villages and quiet country back-roads to explore at leisure. The largest town is Savannakhet, a place of crumbling colonial grandeur with a thriving cafe-culture.
Laos is a little gem, tucked away between the much more heavily populated (and touristed) Thailand and Vietnam. It can be a challenging place to be on the back of a bike, but it is also generally safe and highly rewarding so give it a go.
We hope you found this guide to Laos cycling and mountain biking holidays interesting and useful. Be sure to check out our adventure travel discounts as you could save a fortune on your next holiday.