Motorbike Riding When in Laos – How to Do It Safely

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Motorbiking is a popular way to get around Laos. But do you need a license? Find out what you need to know to ride around safely here.


Photo © GettyImages/ThePurpleDoor

Motorbiking in Laos is a great way to get around, and a lot of fun! But it’s important to stay safe while renting and riding, so here’s the lowdown on everything you need to know.

In Laos, it’s illegal to ride a motorbike without a license, even though you probably won’t be asked for one when renting. Many tourists ride without licenses, but just remember that insurance won’t cover illegal activity. Accidents where a helmet isn’t worn or the rider is drink driving also won’t be covered.

Can I take the motorbike from Laos to other countries?

Unfortunately, it’s illegal to take a rented Laotian-plated motorbike into Vietnam, Thailand or Cambodia, you have to be the owner of the bike and have documentation to prove it. It’s notoriously difficult for foreigners to cross country borders with a motorbike. Even with the correct documentation, travelers have been known to have entry denied. There is a small fee for taking your bike across borders, usually about $30-40 dollars, so watch out for security trying to scam you out of more money.

Motorbike scams in Laos

Pick a reputable motorbike rental agency to avoid scams. It’s been known for agencies to “steal” the rented bike, blame you for the theft and ask you to cough up the cost to cover the loss. We also recommend taking photos of any damage already on the motorbike before you ride off so you can prove that you didn’t cause the damage later.

Some scooters from rental agencies have broken or lost wing mirrors. Be aware that locals in Laos often drive quite dangerously, so be sure to always check your surroundings when riding. Also be wary of dogs chasing your motorbike, as this has been known to result in accidents.

Are there any famous biking routes in Laos?

Probably the most famous biking route in Laos is the Tha Khaek Loop. It’s incredibly picturesque, taking you through karst mountains and remote villages. It starts and ends in the town of Tha Khaek and generally takes three to five days, depending on how much exploring you do.

Konglor Cave, Laos Photo credit: Vincent Jary/Getty Images

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