2Up off road Northern Laos to Southern Laos -PART THREE


Senior member
Jan 11, 2011
Chiang Mai, Thailand
2007 KTM 990 Adventure Suzuki DRZ 400
2Up off road Northern Laos to Southern Laos -PART THREE


Part three of David & Mai Bailey's great Laos trip:

Ta Oi is reported, to possibly be the most bombed place on earth.

Ta Oi accommodated us with the least expensive Guest House of the trip. Thomas and Lynn shared the “dormitory” and Mai and I got a single room, with the bath being shared by one and all in the guest house.




Dinner was similarly interesting. The beers were cold and the swimming in the river very nice as well as the photo op of sitting on that 750 ponder, the explosive part having been removed.





Roads in and out of Ta Oi – well they are interesting too.

South of Ta Oi and the village of Pason and the back tracks down to East of Salavan, Sekong and Attapeu.
When you look at either the Gecko map or the GT-Rider map, you will see a Direct Southern track that runs out of Ta Oi (not the one down towards Salavan) and on the Gecko map you see tracks that run further to the East and all the way down to East of Attapeu. We couldn’t exactly find these, but did go in search of the trail heads and ask locals where they went.

Pason village South of Ta Oi – we found a new road being built that takes off into the jungle from the main road. We followed this new road for a couple of Km and came to the village of Pason, which were the Tha-lang hill tribe group and most unfriendly, save but one gentleman. They acknowledged the new road, but said it only went a bit further and then it turned back into a walking track.

When about 30+km North of Sekong we looked for the road that might make the connection to the one running past the village of Pason and we followed this off to the East North east for about 30+Km and then gave it up when we were told that it only went to one more village. I’ll guess that they both connect somewhere in one fashion or the other and will in time be a proper road.

East of Sekong on the road running to the VN border.
Twice now we’ve ridden to the South of what looks to be Daklaan on the GT-Rider map all the way to Paam. Actually we made this run South to North both times. Anyway, around the Dakaan area we’ve seen a number of promising tracks that head North, but locals don’t know where or how far they go. Again – only guessing, but would guess that they run well to the north and somehow or other connect into Pason, south of Ta Oi and or to the East of Ta Oi

Ta Oi to Toumlan
We went South and then West out of Ta Oi and then headed slight North and continued West on into Toumlan. Just before Ngoua as shown on the map we encountered the ice cream man selling out of the big box on the back of his step through. So we flagged him down and had ice cream sticks while along one of the main Ho Chi Minh tracks. A family of about 5 was walking past watching us with very long longing faces that lit up immediately when Mai asked them if they would like to join us.

Seven times now we’ve been in Toumlan and it is constantly changing. They’ve got a new guest house as of last year, with a very good restaurant so it make for a good place to base out of for a few days and explore, but beware of the deep sand as you go North up towards Tat Hai and then to the West and to the East.

A great place for a rest day; laundry, eat and sleep.


They turn the water off up at the dam between 0600 and 1200 so as to fill the reservoir



The Ho Chi Minh Trail
Just a quick brief here. The HCMT is actually a series of trails with mile marker number one entering Laos just about the 17th parallel and continuing on down on the Lao side of the Lao/VN border, down into Cambodia. There are three main tracks running North and South with many smaller parallel tracks and about every 5-15Km they connect West to East. There was also a main fuel line that ran the entire length of the trail. Can you imagine the logistics and engineering required to build and maintain this fuel line??. It’s reported that there is over 16,000km of road that make up the “Trail”.


Ice cream seller along the Trail. When Mai saw the long longing faces on these locals walking past, she asked if they would like to share with us.


Meals where sometimes more then just a bit interesting.


How did Mai find the time or the inclination to take this pic?






Attapeu was our Southern most goal for this trip. We’ve been here a number of times and had made the trip West over to Rt13 and had the fun of experiencing all those water crossing. So need to do this again.

This year we went hunting for a route East out of Attapeu and then South that might connect and lead us the 70km or so down into Cambodia. All we found were some logging trucks and some very very very bad sandy-bull dust tracks.


Paam and North
The primary reason in wanting to return to Attapeu, was to retrace a track we had made the year before. From Paam, about 25km East and then North of Attapeu, where the SAM site is located we had continued due North up to Daklaan and then over to Sekong. Last year the new road leading North out of Paam was pretty basic and more or less gradually disappeared as it got half way up and then turned into a questionable which way to go on small tracks until they hit the main track running East/West through Daklaan. Last year it took us 11 hours to make this run. This year it only took us half a day and that was with a lunch break with fresh made sandwiches at the Rio Tinto mining exploration camp up on the plateau. And the road from last year which at best was in most places interesting, this year it was a Great smooth red dirt surface that you could scoot along doing 60-70Kmph. And the 7 liter fuel tank on the DRZ found a fill up, same place as last year, only this year the very small village has a new cement bridge and the old wooden one has all but passed away back into the brush. And last year’s question on which track to take out of town after filling and playing with the kids?? Yep, the route is now a well defined smooth red dirt express-way heading off to the North. What we thought would be one of the harder sections of the trip, given what we experience here last year, turned out to be one of the easiest days.


Thomas looks back at what was last year’s road



Last year this tank was on the other side of the road



Where did the old wooden bridge go?


But still the same old way to fill’m up.


Smoke break




Thomas looks back into the jungle where the road was last year






How long should a trip last?
Many times we asked ourselves that question once we had reached our Southern most objective of Attapeu. There’s an old saying that I find applicable at times like this and to this type of question; “quit while the band is still playing your song”. Multiple times we had had multiple good luck find it’s way to us; someone step out of the jungle when we were really lost and explain how to get unlost, how the “Gate” system worked and how to circumvent it, no flat tires, no mechanical problems, 2Up the entire way, never falling over, a wonderful wife who still had a great smile and game for more. In fact when Thomas and I simultaneously said, while taking a break from riding in the sand and with wet feet squishing around in our wet boots,


“let’s head for the showers.” Mai pressed forth with a dissenting vote and wanted to continue back North, at least as far as Thakhek by staying 30-50Km to the East of Rt13. Being a democratic group though, the dye was cast; the vote was 2 to 1 and off to Pakxe we went. But to keep it interesting and since it was only mid afternoon we thought just a little bit more fun would be fun. So instead of heading due West to Salavan as we should have, we ran off to the North and then Northwest to West, knowing that eventually we had to run into the large river and could just simply and easily follow along it to the crossing we been at the previous year. Following along the river was the easy part, but first we had to get to it. And how many times did we get lost trying to get to it, so we could easily follow it??




Enough times to where the, only 7 liter fuel tank was starting to become a rather large and looming concern, even with the one and half liters that we carry as spare. But as fools ride on and luck would have it again, or maybe as we just got a bit brighter and started to head in the more appropriate South Southwest direction, there was the river – with one last remaining chance to wet our feet.
Nice idea to keep the feet dry

But the water way seemed a bit more steady



GREAT ride. Great wife, Excellent riding friend in Thomas who was able to do the final stuff with us, and a wonderful 400DRZ. 2Up, top to bottom, trouble free.


David and Mai
Chiang Khong
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