Last updated on July 26th, 2023 at 02:47 pm
The Thakhek Loop is a must-do for any adventure lover visiting Laos. This scenic 450-kilometer loop takes you through some of the most beautiful and remote parts of the country, including the incredible Kong Lor Cave. In this blog post, I’ll share my ultimate 4-day Thakhek Loop itinerary, complete with directions, tips, and recommendations. This itinerary will help you make the most of your time on the loop.
- Preparing for the Thakhek Loop
- What to pack for the Thakhek Loop
- Map & Route of the Thakhek Loop
- 4 Day Thakhek Loop Itinerary
For more Laos inspiration, have a read of my other posts:
Preparing for the Thakhek Loop
- Stay in Thakhek the night before you set off. I suggest staying at Naga Hostel. A bed in a dorm is about $7 per night. It is super clean, a very nice hostel to stay at. The owners are very helpful and tell you all about the Thakhek loop and give many tips and recommendations too.
- Ask your accommodation to hold onto your big bag if you have one and take a day pack/school bag. Naga hostel minded our backpacks for us.
- Rent your bike the night before so you can have a smooth start to day 1. You can chose an automatic or a semi-automatic. The semi automatic has gears operated by foot pedals and the back brake is managed by a foot pedal too.
- These are slightly cheaper than the automatic. The cost of the semi automatic is 130,000 LAK per day and the automatic is 150,000 LAK per day. The choice is yours. We went for the semi automatic and I thought it was more fun and preferred being able to change gears when needed. We rented from Mixay motor rental which is just 3 minutes of a walk from Naga.
- Consider taking anti-malaria tablets, look up the advice from your country to see whether you should take them or not. I noticed that some countries advice differed from others.
What to pack for the Thakhek Loop
Apart from your normal clothes and toiletries, make sure to include the following:
- Swimwear & a quick dry towel
- Mosquito repellent
- Long Pants, sleeves for your arms – to prevent sun & wind burn when driving the bike
- First aid kit in case you fall off your bike (speaking from experience). Also make sure you have travel insurance in case you do fall off (I use safety wing).
- sunglasses, sun cream
- water shoes if you have them (not necessary)
- international driving licence
- Battery pack
- Poncho (in case you get caught in the rain)
Map & Route of the Thakhek Loop
- Day 1: You will start out in Thakhek and head East as you start you journey towards Thalang. The road swings to the left and you will stop at Pha Katai viewpoint, ‘I’m in café’ and Song Sou Waterfall, before resting up for the night in Sabaidee guesthouse in Thalang.
- Day 2: Head North toward Lak Xao, the next big town, take a left here and stop off at the dragon cave. Your next stop is the cool springs, before you get to Nahin to grab a bite to eat. Then go South to Kong Lor to stay for 2 nights.
- Day 3: Visit Kong Lor Cave, & explore the area
- Day 4: Head North back towards Nahin and take a right before stopping at Limestone Forest Viewpoint. Get back on the road and when you reach Vieng Kham take a left. This is the highway back to Thakhek, it takes about 2 hours. Turn right towards Thakhek after you meet Plus Gas Station and Phouchang hotel and head back to your accommodation.
4 Day Thakhek Loop Itinerary
Day 1: Thakhek to Thalang
Route: Thakhek to Thalang
Distance: 110km (2 hours 5 minutes)
Day 1 you will start off in Thakhek and finish in Thalang. Firstly, grab your breakfast at Naga hostel before setting off on the bike.
The first stop I suggest is Pha Katai Viewpoint for a quick 20 minute hike up some steep steps for some stunning views. Take some time to admire the beautiful views at the top. This is about 1 hour and 10 minutes by motorbike.
Grab some lunch at ‘I’m In Cafe’ which is just a 2 minute drive from Pha Katai viewpoint.
Then drive another 20 minutes until you arrive at Song Sa Waterfall. The location on google maps is incorrect by about 3 km. Pass out the maps location, then you will pass out a power station, drive over a bridge and you will see the sign for Song Sa just over the bridge on the right. Jump into the water for a cool down from the sun.
After this, you will want to drive another 50 minutes to Thalang where you will stay for the night. People mainly stay at either ‘Sabaidee Guesthouse’ or ‘Phosy Thalang Laos’ which are directly across the road from each other.
We chose Sabaidee. We got a private room and it was 150,000 LAK, a really good price, you can also choose to stay in a dorm. The accommodation was basic, with a fan, no a/c and private bathroom. They do an all you can eat barbeque in the evening for 100,000 LAK which was tasty and you get talking to a lot of people doing the same loop. We did not pre-book, but it is possible to message them on Facebook to pre-book.
The location on maps is also incorrect for Sabaidee – you need to turn right before you go over the bridge.
Day 2: Thalang to Kong Lor
Route: Thalang to Kong Lor
Distance: 150km (3 hours 10 minutes)
On Day 2, you will start off in Thalang and finish up in Kong Lor. The first big town is Lak Xao, there is an ATM there if you need to get cash out. Do get it out here if you need to, because we were told that there are no ATMs after that point.
The first stop is the dragon cave, 1 hour and 20 minutes from Sabaidee. The entry fee is 40,000 LAK, but it is very cool inside. You will be surprised at how big it is.
For the next stop, enter ‘cool pool’ into google maps and in 20 minutes you will arrive. Here, you can cool off from the hot sun and go swimming in a cold spring. The water here is very clear and it is a nice place to spend an hour relaxing.
From the cool pool, drive another 40 minutes to ‘Khounthavy 2 Food’. This is a nice place to break up the journey from the cool pool to Kong Lor. The food here is yummy and the staff are very nice.
The last leg of the trip for the day is 1 hour to Kong Lor where you will stay for 2 nights. We stayed at ‘Spring River Resort’ and it was very nice. You can stay in the Garden view room with a fan which is $15 per night or you can stay in the river view room with a/c which is $75 per night.
Day 3: Explore Kong Lor Cave
Route: Accommodation to Kong Lor Cave
Distance: 4km (8 minutes)
Start off Day 3 by heading down the road to Kong Lor Cave to explore the 7.5km long cave by boat. This is just an 8 minute drive away. You can just arrive and pay at the gate for a tour. It is 115,000 LAK for a ticket and 5,000 LAK for parking. You will have to wade through the water to get on the boat so if you have water shoes, wear them. Otherwise, they have flip flops there that you can use for free. This tour normally takes about 2 hours.
After this tour, get some lunch. We ate at Spring River Resort, where we stayed and the food is tasty.
In the evening, you can chose to relax by the river or maybe do a kayaking trip. They offer kayaking at the ‘Spring River Resort’ to the blue lagoon for 80,000 kip per kayak or you can book elsewhere.
Get some dinner and relax for the evening. Stay at the same accommodation for another night.
Day 4: Kong Lor to Thakhek
Route: Kong Lor to Thakhek
Distance: 180km (3 hours 30 minutes)
It’s time to go back to Thakhek! Get on the bike and put ‘Limestone Forest Viewpoint’ into Google Maps. It is 1 hour 10 minutes from Spring River.
Do the 2 hour ziplining package here. It costs $30 each and consists of 5 ziplines, some rock climbing and more. It was really good and the views are insane! If you don’t fancy doing the ziplining, you can stop to take in the views here.
After you are finished, grab something to eat at the restaurant. Then it’s time to take the highway back to Naga hostel which is a 2.5 hour long drive. Make sure to pull in to take some breaks along the way.
Have some dinner at 6 friends restaurant and head to bed.
This is the full itinerary – I did not include all the caves along the way as from what I have heard from people who did visit the smaller caves, Kong Lor and the dragon cave are the best. So I think it is a good idea to conserve your energy for the best bits as the long days driving and exploring can be tiring.
But if you are adamant to do some more exploring, why not stop at Elephant cave or Nang Aeng cave on Day 1. Do note that these smaller caves may not be open if you are travelling in the wet season, so check if they are open before you set off.
I hope you enjoyed this blog post and that it has inspired you to plan your own 4-day Thakhek Loop itinerary. Share it with your friends, if you found it useful. Plus, if you have any questions, please feel free to leave a comment below.
Thanks for reading,
- Don't forget to get travel insurance before you set out on your adventure. Safety Wing is a great choice and so reasonable.
- If you are looking for accommodation, then Hostelworld or Booking.com are good options with plenty of accommodation choices.
- Looking to book tours, entry tickets and more, check out Get your Guide.
- Follow me on instagram @wandererlane 🙂