Whilst the Vietnam war ongoing, next door in Laos there was a secret war going on. Undisclosed to the rest of the world, the US were bombing Laos day and night. In the north, the ground war against the NVA was led by General Van Pao from his mountain fortress, Long Tieng, with his SGU units. Backed by the CIA, Long Tieng was truly the most secret place on earth. After the war, it remained off limits for nearly 50 years. Now it’s open to the public along with its secrets
There were many places of significance such as Long Tieng, Lima sites 36 & 85 all we will visit. The tour starts and ends in Luang Prabang. During that loop we take in some of the best-known War sites in Laos along with many cities, places of interest and natural beauty. Mostly off-road trails, with some tarmac sections. Accommodation will vary from Hotels, Homestay and guest houses, intermediate + rider friendly.
Honda CRF 250L
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We start our tour by leaving Luang Prabang and heading west to Phonxai district, from there we will pick up the dirt. There are some steep mountain climbs on this route, with spectacular views, not much in the way of people or villages, a challenging route to get you fired up. Muang song is home to Lima site 11, and the famous T28 pilot Lee Lu.
Day 2: Muang Song to Long Tieng – 140 km 4-5 Hrs. riding.
A pleasant ride into Long Tieng Via some rather remote trails and some old Lima sites in the mountains. We will also Pass through Xam Thong LS20 the home to USAID during the war. Then onto Skyline ridge before descending into Long Tieng via the old trail, now there is also a new bypass road , which cut’s skyline ridge in 2. On arrival we can kick back and enjoy the history.
Day 3: Long Tieng Tour
Set in a valley surrounded by limestone karsts, you’ll see how Long Tieng got the nickname “the most secret place on Earth”. It was the country’s second biggest city until the mid-1970s with its airport then the busiest in the world. Once at the center of a guerilla-led clandestine war on communism, it was backed by the CIA. From the past to the present though, we will spend the whole day exploring the site. During that exploration you will visit not only Skyline ridge, Vang Pao’s house, and the Kings Palace, but also the air strip and buildings still standing from the historic days of the Secret War. It’s a very different place now.
Day 4: Long Tieng to Phonsavan – 120 km 4-5 Hrs. riding.
After a breakfast, we will leave Long Tieng and ride the short distance to Phonsavan. We will pass through some beautiful countryside, more Lima sites on route to see, this was the main route into this area during the war. On arrival we’ll visit not only the Plain of Jars and the 1000 step mountain for some spectacular views of Xiang Khoung. A walk around Phonsavan in the evening will reveal much war scarp on display.
Day 5: Phonsavan to Muang Kham -120 Km 4-5 Hrs. Riding
A relatively short day as we take a loop around Xiang Khoung. We explore some sites of interest such as Tham Piu Cave scene of a tragic bombing, along with the crater fields and Jar site 54. There are some interesting trails linking these sites together, which will make for an interesting days ride. Overnighting in a local homestay.
Day 6: Muang Kham to Xam Neua – 230 km 6-7 Hrs. riding
An early start as we head North to Xam Neua which is quite a ride. It will take us most of the day to get to our eventual destination of Xam Neua. There’s a lot to see along the route though, including the Hintung Archeological site. Apart from seeing the site, you will be continuously treated to spectacular, natural views in some really remote locations.
Day 7: Xam Neua (Vienxai Underground Cave Complex) 60 Km
A late start today as we will visit the caves. The complex used by the Phatet Lao is not only ingenious, it’s also very sophisticated. Caves were split into living areas connected by tunnels to larger communal areas, military barracks, and government quarters. There were also school and hospital caves, as well as a theatre used for weddings and film screenings. You will see all this and more in a very interesting day of recounting local history. The tour takes a few hours to complete, plus the view point. Afternoon can be spent relaxing, recharging.
We head into the Hills for another full day and ride to Lima Site 85. LS 85 was upgraded in 1967 to one with an all-weather night bombing facility (Tacan). The North Vietnamese retaliated and attacked the site in March, 1968. In a ferocious one-day battle, they destroyed it. Fifty years later, we take the steep climb to that mountain top and are rewarded with breathtaking views. We leave the site and head for Muang Hiam (Veingtong). Once there, we enjoy the Hot Springs and stay overnight in a local guest house.
A beautiful ride back on the mountain ridges as the trails follow the Nam Xeng River into Pakseng district. The final part of the ride on tarmac, after the long ride you will be rewarded with a comfortable Hotel, along with some Laos hospitality in our home town, of Luang Prabang.
Day 10: Luang Prabang Loop – 130 km 3-4 Hrs riding
We will spend our time in Luang Prabang sightseeing. We will Visit Pak Ou caves, home to many during the war. We will then return and take a tour of the UXO Museum, following which we go to Kuang Si Waterfalls. Returning from the Falls, we will take a ‘sunset cruise’ in the evening and after the sun goes down, we can enjoy a few drinks along the Mekong with some tasty local foods on our last evening together.
Lao Adv Tours Reserves the rights to change routes and planning due to road problems. Weather conditions can change very quickly. All rights reserved.