Southeast Asia is not only known for being a budget-friendly travel destination, but it is also popular amongst motorcyclists for having some of the best routes in the world. If you are looking to enjoy an epic motorbike trip, you can check out these Southeast Asian routes.
Each of these motorbike routes is known for its incredible views and scenery so do not forget to bring your camera along when you ride. You can also invest in a smartphone with a brilliant camera setup, like the newer models from Samsung, Apple, or even Vivo.
Without further ado, here are four of the best motorbike journeys in the Southeast Asia region.
Ho Chi Minh Trail (Vietnam)
Vietnam has some of the best motorcycle routes in the region and one of the most popular routes is the established route from Ho Chi Minh City to Hanoi. It is a favorite amongst bikers and every motorcyclist dream of experiencing the journey on their own. The trail stretches 1600 kilometers and was first built in 1959. There are several ways to attempt this route but if you want to fully appreciate the beautiful sites along the way, you might need up to 2 weeks.
For many motorcyclists, the most authentic way to experience this route is by following the trail over the mountains into Laos and then towards Cambodia. If you do not wish to leave Vietnam, you can follow the other trail option that goes from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh. This part of the trail is said to be the best part of the route. Throughout the entire journey, you will be able to see stunning coastal roads, quiet villages, lush paddy fields, and even limestone karst formations. However, be careful whilst you are biking along the route because there are high chances of rocky and muddy paths along the way.
Ha Giang Loop (Vietnam)
Besides the Ho Chi Minh route, there is another popular motorbike route that exists in Vietnam and that is the Ha Giang Loop route. This is a 350-kilometre route in the northern-most province of Vietnam, Ha Giang. The mountainous province is notable for offering riders breath-taking views of forested hills and enchanting limestone peaks. Along the way, you can also see quaint villages amongst stretches of paddy fields and soothing rivers.
A well-marked map of the route can be retrieved from most mapping platforms but it is important to be careful when visiting the area. The road and the weather can change drastically due to the topography of the area, so you might suddenly encounter steep terrain or sudden rain showers. The roads can get narrow at certain points and some may even trail the edge of a cliff, so stay alert at all times. It is best to attempt this route when the weather is pleasant and dry to reduce the risk of being caught in storms, mudslides, or rock falls. The optimal period would be between March and April, or September and October.
Bolaven Plateau (Laos)
Another country that is known for having a scenic motorbike route is Laos, and the best route would be in the Bolaven Plateau. The area is located in southern Laos and is a lush area with many waterfalls and an abundance of coffee plantations. There are two loops that surround the Bolaven Plateau and they both begin in Pakse, where the Pakse International Airport is located. The smaller loop would take riders about 3 days to complete, while the bigger loop can take you up to 5 days.
The smaller loop is said to have better quality roads and is more enjoyable because the sights are clearly marked along the way. Some of the landmarks in the area include the waterfalls in Tad Soung and the mines in Paksong. On the other hand, the route of the bigger loop will include the occasional off-road trail. The biggest plus to following this route would be the chance to visit Tad Tayicseau and the seven breathtaking waterfalls. However, you will need to hike through a few marked trails in order to reach these waterfalls. You might not be able to get a stable cellular signal in either route so always keep a physical copy of the map of the area.
Mae Hong Son Loop (Thailand)
If you are doing a motorcycle journey in Southeast Asia, you cannot miss Thailand, especially the Chiang Mai and Pai provinces in the north. The Mae Hong Son Loop is the famous route that goes between the two northern cities, and it is the route where you can see photographable nature views and fascinating Buddhist temples. You can complete the route in just a couple of days or you can take more of your time to fully enjoy all the sights. Some of the scenic landmarks that you could encounter in this route include waterfalls, limestone caves, forests, as well as authentic Thai towns.
There are two options to this route and it is either clockwise or counterclockwise from Chiang Mai to Pai. For inexperienced riders, the recommended route would be to start from Mae Sariang, which will bring riders through a simple and straight route along the forest and green farmland. With this route, you will slowly be led up towards the misty mountains and winding hill curves. For the experienced riders who want a little more adventure, there is the more difficult route that starts off riding into the mountains. However, both routes will not disappoint when it comes to beautiful views because there are plenty of breathtaking landscapes to feast your eyes upon.
Tips for Motorbiking in Southeast Asia
As with most motorbiking journeys, you have to understand the region you are visiting before you begin your route. This is to ensure that you have a safe and smooth journey while in Southeast Asia. Remember that the climate in Southeast Asia is mostly hot and humid but the weather can change without notice, so always be on guard when it comes to the weather. Some of these routes can get quite long so wear clothes that are comfortable but can still provide protection. A good helmet is also important so get one that is lightweight yet durable, like an Evo full-face helmet or an AGV carbon SportModular helmet.
If you are planning on camping or staying at a local accommodation, pack some things that would make your stay more comfortable. An effective insect repellent is something that you should consider getting since many of these routes are located near forests.