What is the Thakhek Loop in Laos?

Laos is a picturesque country with a rich culture and kind people. A motorcycle trip to the Thakhek Loop is one of the greatest ways to see it all. This path takes you through beautiful scenery, via traditional communities, and to some of the country’s most beautiful waterfalls.

What is the Thakhek Loop?


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The Thakhek Loop is a well-known motorbike route that begins and finishes at Thakhek, located in Khammouane Province in central Laos. The loop is approximately 400 kilometers long and can be completed in 2-7 days, depending on your pace and how many stops you make along the way.

The route is well-paved and suitable for many motorcycles, including scooters and dirt bikes. Many visitors rent a motorcycle at Thakhek and ride the loop independently, while others take guided excursions.

What to Expect on the Thakhek Loop

The Thakhek Loop passes through some of Laos’ most beautiful and diverse landscapes. You’ll pass through lush forests, rolling hills, and wide-open savannahs. You’ll also have the chance to visit traditional villages and learn about the local way of life while sampling delicious Lao food.

Tham Xang (Elephant Cave)


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This cave, near the city of Thakhek, is famous for its elephant-shaped rock structure. The cave’s spectacular stalactites and stalagmites can be explored by visitors.

Buddha Cave

The Buddha Cave is home to 229 ancient bronze statues of Buddha dating back over 500 years. Visitors can access the cave through a small fence, which was only uncovered in 2004. The cave is primarily a religious and historical site rather than an attraction. 

Tha Falang: Swimming Hole


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Tha Falang is a beautiful stretch of the river down a rugged gravel road. It was a favorite site for the French during Colonial times, but it is now a famous swimming hole and rest area for locals and foreigners, so you will be joined, and the site has been known to get wrecked.

Tha Lang (Nakai Plateau)

The Nakai Plateau is an intriguing and one-of-a-kind location. The landscape is dominated by dead trees and water. If you have a free day, you can spend it up here and take a boat ride through the many waterways. This is a good place to go if you want to relax quietly.

Buddha Statues

As you traverse the winding roads of the Nakai Plateau and leave the scenery of lakes and barren trees behind, be sure to keep an eye out for statues of Buddha etched into the rock. Be cautious, as there are several sharp turns along the way. You can take a break at one of the designated pull-outs to admire the picturesque views of the valley and the town of Lak Sao on the horizon. The area is particularly striking during the rainy season with its lush, green rice fields.

Mangkone Cave (Dragon Cave)


Signs for the Dragon Cave can be found off to the right as you travel through the jungle-clad karst mountains west of Lak Xao. Buddhist statues carved into the rock surrounding the cave entrance are hidden from view by a thick jungle canopy. The entrance to the Dragon Cave is a small crack in the well-lit rock. Explore an underground river while keeping an eye out for low-hanging cave features inside this intriguing cave. There are tall fluted formations outside the cave entrance, and if you turn left, you’ll find a small but stunning chamber full of stalactites and stalagmites.

The Kong Lor Cave

The Konglor Cave, a 7.5km long limestone cave that snakes beneath a mountain, is one of the loop’s highlights. Visitors can take a boat trip into the cave, illuminated by electric lights, and it provides breathtaking vistas of rock formations and crystal-clear water.

Nasanam Waterfall


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When you are ready to leave Nahin, look for the sign for Nasanam Waterfall on the right side of the road. If you decide to go, plan on spending at least three hours there. Half of the distance to the waterfall is driveable, making the total distance about 3 kilometers, a treacherous path through the jungle. The waterfall will probably be a trickle or a mist during the dry season.

Khoun Kong Leng Lake


Depending on when you go, the pleasant Kong Leng Lake will be crowded with locals or visitors on the Thakhek Loop. On the other hand, you might find yourself with the place to yourself. You can stop and cool off in the gorgeous blue water on your way back to Thakhek.

Accommodations and Food on the Thakhek Loop

The Thakhek Loop has a variety of lodging alternatives to meet various budgets and interests. Numerous guesthouses and homestays along the road provide an excellent opportunity to experience local hospitality and culture. These usually include basic rooms with private toilets, air conditioning, and meals.

A few resorts and hotels throughout the circle offer amenities such as swimming pools and spas for those searching for a more upmarket experience. These are terrific options if you want a little more luxury on your trip.

When it comes to eating, the Thakhek Loop has many possibilities for people who want to try traditional Lao cuisine. Along the way, there are several local eateries and street food vendors where you may try foods like Laap (spicy meat salad), Tam Mak Houng (spicy green papaya salad), and Khao Niao (spicy green papaya salad) (sticky rice).

It can be challenging to discover solutions for folks with specialized dietary demands, especially if you’re vegan or vegetarian. You may, however, find excellent food that meets your dietary requirements with a bit of research and flexibility.

The Best Time to Visit the Thakhek Loop

Scenic view of tents on the shore of Falang Lake (Thakhek loop), Laos at sunset

The best time to visit the Thakhek Loop depends on your travel goals. The dry season, starting in November and ending in April, is the most optimal time to visit because the weather is generally dry and sunny, and the roads are in good shape. It can, however, be the busiest time, with more visitors on the loop.

The rainy season, which lasts from May to October, can also be an excellent time to visit. The weather can be humid, but rain can refresh the landscape and reduce the number of visitors on the loop. The road may need to be in better shape during the dry season, but it is still passable.

When visiting the Thakhek Loop, it’s essential to be prepared for the weather and road conditions. Remember that Laos can be hot and humid, so stay hydrated and wear appropriate clothing.

Overall, the Thakhek Loop is an excellent opportunity to explore Laos’ natural beauty and rich culture. It’s a motorcycling ride you’ll never forget, with its different landscapes, friendly folks, and wonderful food. You can ensure that your trip is safe, pleasurable, and memorable by considering safety and cultural issues, accommodations and food alternatives, and transportation.