Most travellers skip the southern part of Laos and travel straight from the 4000 Islands to Vientiane, which is a crazy long journey – over 20 hours and at least 3 bus transfers!
I made a stop in Thakhek, which is still at least a 9 hour journey from Don Det. There’s not much to do in Thakhek itself, there’s not even a city centre, but everyone who goes there does the famous Thakhek loop.
This loop takes you to surrounding areas of the town, leading to breathtaking scenery, caves, springs and villages. I did the loop in three days, but if time and money permitted, four days would have been ideal and less rushed.
After waiting out the morning rain, my gang and I hopped on our bikes with high hopes. We weren’t disappointed, as within 15 minutes of driving, the landscape opened up. The sun was shinning and the mountains surrounded us.
We stopped in a cave and had noodle soup for lunch.
The first stop for the night was at Sabaidee Guesthouse. For 50,000 kip a night you’d get a double room. The guesthouse has a lovely vibe – catering specifically to the Thakhek loop crowd.
The rain came in the early morning today, so we were able to set off after breakfast around 10am. We continued going up and down the mountains, until we found our afternoon break spot at a cool spring. The water was cold and refreshing, but the drive up to it was even more impressive.
Lunch was noodle soup again – we started realizing noodle soup was going to be our staple this entire trip.
The drive to our night stop was by far the best. On a straight, well-paved road, we drove between mountains, farmlands and rice fields, with the occasional animal crossing.
There were’t any guesthouses at this stop, just homestays.
We started the day visiting the Konglor Cave. You can probably skip most of the other caves on this loop, but not the Konglor Cave.
It’s 2,000 kip to get in and a boat ride, which fits a maximum of 3 people is about 130, 000 kip. About 80% of the visit inside the cave is on the boat.
Unfortunately, we were’t as lucky on the last day with the rain. It started pouring during our noodle soup lunch and continued all the way through. We ended up having to drive 6 hours in the cold rain. The terrain was also less impressive, as this stretch was the highway.
But the loop is highly recommended!