Tristan, can you tell us about this Laos motorcycle tour?
I love this destination for several reasons. Laos has not yet been touched by mass tourism, so it really feels like you are cut off from the world and have taken a step back in time. Laos is not a very touristy country, apart from Luang Prabang, the ancient royal capital listed as an UNESCO World Heritage Site. When you travel by motorcycle in Laos, you can escape the traditional tourist trails by taking rural tracks, going where no one else goes and stopping for breaks in small, timeless towns. What’s more, we have a fantastic local team: Lek, our mechanic who looks after our Royal Enfield fleet in Thailand, and Tong in Laos, our smiley local guide who is passionate about protecting his culture.
What’s your favourite day on this motorcycle tour in Laos?
I love the approaches to Nong Khiaw from Luang Namtha. We arrive in this valley next to the Nam Ou River in the evening when the sun starts going down. The karst landscapes are a fantastic natural setting, which is even more magical at this time of day when they change colour. Like most riders, I think that’s my favourite moment, as the leg is 100% off road and the last day of riding in Laos from Pakbeng. We are completely shattered by the time we reach Chiang Khong in Thailand but hugely satisfied from spending an entertaining day on the tracks.
What experiences would you like to share with us?
We stay two nights in Luang Prabang. We spend a quiet day on the outskirts of the city near the Kuang Si Falls, which is where we set off from. During the day, we take a Laotian cookery class in a small restaurant so we can learn a little more about local cuisine and get to sample the food we prepare. We also take a tour of a farm that produces yoghurts and cheese from buffalo milk. Our time at the elephant conservation centre in Sayaboury is also a somewhat spiritual experience. Spending time with these large animals, observing them and understanding why it is important to protect them is a beautiful way to raise awareness of this endangered species. I mustn’t forget crossing the Thai-Laotian border: there is always something special about riding a motorcycle from one country to another alongside the Mekong.