The lure of a motorcycle tour along the open roads of Asia is multifaceted, and trading the confines of four wheels for the sense of liberty found on two is fast becoming a pragmatic decision as well as romantic one. Weaving unhindered through the dense traffic endemic to the region’s cities, and riding out into the exotic landscapes of Vietnam, Thailand, India, Nepal and Laos – the sites of some particularly epic routes – is becoming increasingly popular with motorcyclist enthusiasts and the more casual rider alike.
With its vast network of well-maintained highway and provincial roads, Thailand is well known among motorcyclists as one of the top international tour destinations in the world. The provinces of Chiang Rai, Mae Hong Son, Phayao, Phrae, Nan, Ubon Ratchathani, Khon Kaen and Si Saket provide thousands of miles of almost empty tarmac – notably free of commercial and industrial vehicles. Bhutan offers a very different experience to the tropical routes of Thailand, but with a population of just 50,000, even the capital of Thimphu is free from jams (and doesn’t even have traffic lights). The steep 3,450-meter climb from the capital to the Dochu La pass, followed by a 1,700-meter descent into Punakha Valley is an exciting highlight even for a country filled with adventure, like Bhutan. The once isolated kingdom of Laos has for the last decade seen a steady increase of motorcyclists into the country, keen to discover the thrills of the Laos Loop. The 300-mile journey, packed with jungle scenery, rice paddies and long stretches of challenging, uneven roads, begins and ends in the town of Thakhèk (Tha Khaek) in the Khammouane province. But, the true destination is the spectacular Kong Lor Cave, the spectacular karst limestone cave at the heart of Phu Hin Bun National Park, considered one of Southeast Asia's geological wonders.
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Hiding just a few kilometers outside of China’s capital is one of the most beautiful rural libraries in Asia, a treasure best found by motorcycle.
Few experiences match that roaring between the thighs and the singular sense of freedom in the jungle footpaths and winding alleys of the Southeast Asian countryside by motorcycle. For the sheer thrill of open-road exploration there is nowhere quite like Laos.
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