February 20-23, 2016: The Thakhek Loop

Said goodbye to the lively Vang Vieng and took off for the south (I consider anything south of Vientiane “South”) to do “The Loop” – a 3 to 4 day motorcycle journey that takes you between villages, caves, springs and waterfalls. In my personal opinion, this was an absolute highlight in Laos. If you’re a fan of two-wheel road travel, the “Thakek Loop” is a must!! If you need more convincing, check out the photos and videos below 🙂

Miles walked:                  10
Miles transported:        ~600

Day 1: Thakhek to Tha Lang Village – 100 km (~60 mi)

Locked, loaded, and ready to go!

Thakhek Loop, Day 1 - 1

Thakhek Loop, Day 1 - 2

Our only guidance!

Thakhek Loop, Day 1 - 3

First stop – Xang Cave!

Thakhek Loop, Day 1 - 4

Thakhek Loop, Day 1 - 5

Thakhek Loop, Day 1 - 6

Unintentionally (or not…) matching!

Thakhek Loop, Day 1 - 7

Made our way to the Xieng Liab cave, where we were greeted by two little boys who insisted on walking us to the cave (in expectation of some Kip, of course):

Thakhek Loop, Day 1 - 8

Thakhek Loop, Day 1 - 9

Thakhek Loop, Day 1 - 10

They even danced for us:

Thakhek Loop, Day 1 - 11

And on we continued:

Thakhek Loop, Day 1 - 12

Made it to the Tha Fa Lang river, where we chilled for a bit and gave our butts a break:

Thakhek Loop, Day 1 - 13

Thakhek Loop, Day 1 - 14

Thakhek Loop, Day 1 - 15

Thakhek Loop, Day 1 - 16

After grabbing a bite to eat, we spent the next few hours making our way up to Tha Lang Village where we were planning to spend the night. We chose to stay at Sabaidee Guesthouse and are so glad that we did because this place was BOMB!!! We could have easily stayed here another night, but we were all on a bit of a time crunch – Lauren and Yoav were heading next to Vietnam and we to Myanmar, and we each wanted enough time in these respective countries – so we regretfully settled for one amazing night:

Thakhek Loop, Day 1 - 17

Thakhek Loop, Day 1 - 18

Thakhek Loop, Day 1 - 19

Thakhek Loop, Day 1 - 20


Day 2: Tha Lang Village to Konglor Village – 166 km (~100 mi)

On to day 2 of The Loop!!

Thakhek Loop, Day 2 - 1

As I mentioned before in a previous post, the Chinese have been building dams on various rivers in Laos, causing flooding in some areas. Here, in particular, the dams flooded entire forests, resulting in this bizarre and eerie timber wasteland:

Thakhek Loop, Day 2 - 2

Thakhek Loop, Day 2 - 3

Thakhek Loop, Day 2 - 4

Thakhek Loop, Day 2 - 5

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Thakhek Loop, Day 2 - 8

It’s easy to dress like twins daily when you each bring only one pair of shorts, one pair of pants, and one long-sleeved shirt with you and all three happen to be identical…

Thakhek Loop, Day 2 - 9

Crossing the beautiful Nam Theun River:

Thakhek Loop, Day 2 - 10

After a few hours of driving and amazing scenery, stopped in Lak Sao to rest our tushes and drink some insanely strong and alarming Laotian coffee. The shop next door had this little guy on a chain, which made me sad:

Thakhek Loop, Day 2 - 11

Thakhek Loop, Day 2 - 12

Made our way to the “Cool Springs”, which were certainly cool in both senses of the word:

Thakhek Loop, Day 2 - 13

A group of high-school girls drinking local wine befriended us and we ended up hanging out with them and drinking some of their wine. It was rad:

Thakhek Loop, Day 2 - 14

One of them even took Francy for a little tour of the spring:

Thakhek Loop, Day 2 - 15

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Spent the rest of our time splashing around:

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After a fantastically refreshing time in the water, we ventured on:

Thakhek Loop, Day 2 - 22

Thakhek Loop, Day 2 - 23

Stopping in Na Hin Village for lunch. Man, I love signage in this country:

Thakhek Loop, Day 2 - 24

And coat hangers too:

Thakhek Loop, Day 2 - 25

Continued on to Konglor Village to find a guesthouse for the night, crossing shady bridges and passing by beautiful scenery along the way:

Thakhek Loop, Day 2 - 26

Thakhek Loop, Day 2 - 27

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Thakhek Loop, Day 2 - 30

Took a stroll around the village, starting with the beautiful river:

Thakhek Loop, Day 2 - 31

I couldn’t choose between these incredible dusk photos, so you get all three:

Thakhek Loop, Day 2 - 32

Thakhek Loop, Day 2 - 33

Thakhek Loop, Day 2 - 34

We met these adorable kids:

Whom Lauren almost took home with her:

Thakhek Loop, Day 2 - 35

Thakhek Loop, Day 2 - 36


Day 3: Konglor Village back to Thakek – 216 km (~135 mi)

Checked out the famous 7 km (4.3 mi) Konglor Cave. The Nam Hin Bun River runs through this cave and thus you can travel through it by boat, which is exactly what we did. This cave, made out of karst limestone (whatever that means – thanks, Wikipedia!), is considered one of Southeast Asia’s geological wonders! So obviously, Lauren, who is a geologist, was going ape-shit. Anyway, as each boat only holds 3 passengers, we had to split up, which was sad. However, we met a lone Italian tourist by the name of Nico who joined us, so yay!

Thakhek Loop, Day 3 - 1

There she is!

Thakhek Loop, Day 3 - 2

Thakhek Loop, Day 3 - 3

Looking for our boat captain:

Thakhek Loop, Day 3 - 4

Who was busy shoveling water out of our canoe… awesome. Who doesn’t want to sink in a river of unknown depth in a pitch black cave?

Thakhek Loop, Day 3 - 5

He finally got most (…) of the water out, and we shuffled on it and embarked on our 7 km journey, stopping in the middle to walk around and check out the lit up stalagmites and stalactites:

Thakhek Loop, Day 3 - 6

Thakhek Loop, Day 3 - 7

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Thakhek Loop, Day 3 - 9

Got back in the boat, but not before pulling it up some rocks and rapids. Well, Francy and Nico pulled… I just stood and took pictures:

Thakhek Loop, Day 3 - 10

Exiting the cave:

Thakhek Loop, Day 3 - 11

Thakhek Loop, Day 3 - 12

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Thakhek Loop, Day 3 - 14

Stopped for a quick coffee at the village on the other side:

Thakhek Loop, Day 3 - 15

And hit the river again, making our way back to the 7 km cave:

Thakhek Loop, Day 3 - 16

Thakhek Loop, Day 3 - 17

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Thakhek Loop, Day 3 - 19

We made it back, alive and relatively dry!

Thakhek Loop, Day 3 - 20

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The light at the end of the tunnel!

Thakhek Loop, Day 3 - 23

They definitely make the cuter couple…

Thakhek Loop, Day 3 - 24

Thakhek Loop, Day 3 - 25

Made our way back to the guesthouse, Nico joining Lauren and Yoav for this leg of the journey:

Thakhek Loop, Day 3 - 26

Thakhek Loop, Day 3 - 27

Thakhek Loop, Day 3 - 28

Said goodbye to the fantastic Konglor Village and took off for the 216 km journey back to Thakhek:

Thakhek Loop, Day 3 - 29

Thakhek Loop, Day 3 - 30

Stopped at this stunning viewpoint along the way:

Thakhek Loop, Day 3 - 31

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Thakhek Loop, Day 3 - 36

And on we continued:

Thakhek Loop, Day 3 - 37

Thakhek Loop, Day 3 - 38

After a phenomenal yet long and exhausting 3 days of driving and sight-seeing, we made it back to Thakhek with enough time to grab some dinner and beers while watching the sunset over Thailand (yup – that be Thailand over there!!) before catching our night-bus to Vientiane, which was an adventure in itself! But we’ll save that for the next post 😉

Thakhek Loop, Day 3 - 39

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