Epic Motorcycle Routes in Southeast Asia That You Shouldn’t Miss

written by local expert Tom Rogers

Tom is the co-founder of Adventure in You and has been traveling the world for the last 9 years, living in 5 different continents. His advice on travel gear, adventure travel, and business have been featured in Foundr, Business Insider, CNN and more.

What are the top motorcycle routes in Asia? This is a question I have been wondering for a while so I decided to take it to Google. I was surprised to find out that not many websites or people have written a detailed article about this. To this day, I stand by the fact that the best way to explore a country is to ride a motorcycle all over. So with that being said, I decided to write this article to inspire more people to buy/rent a motorcycle and set out on an adventure they would never forget. So without further ado, here are some of the most epic motorcycle routes in Asia….. that you shouldn’t miss!

Ho Chi Minh Trail between Nha Trang to Hoi An (Inland)


Distance: 692 kilometers
Days to Complete: 3
Road Conditions: Okay. Mostly concrete but beware of small rocks at parts, which can make your bike spin out.
Difficulty: (compared to other motorbike routes in this article): Moderate

Why you Should Ride the Ho Chi Minh Trail Inland

Two words…… The Views

Personal Account of the Ho Chi Minh Trail

I will remember this moment like it was yesterday for I think/hope the rest of my life. We had been riding all morning and were pretty tired from the day before. The beautiful scenery was keeping us pumped but nothing could’ve prepared us for the moment when we got to the top of one mountain, turned a corner and saw the view in front of us. Imagine a long straight road leading down the mountain for as far as you can see, with mountains either side trailing off in the distance into long flat green rice fields. My friend actually caught a photo of me riding down this road with both hands in the air. Sadly the photo was lost but luckily that memory is not. This route has some of the best scenery and range of roads. There is usually some traffic on the first day leaving Hue but after that, there is nothing but you, open roads, animals and friendly locals waving at you when you pass.

Read: Reasons Why Not to Visit Vietnam

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Ha Giang Province, Northern Vietnam


Distance: 325 kilometers

Days to Complete: 3

Road Condition: Narrow and windy. Concrete but bad condition at times
Difficulty: (compared to other motorbike routes in this article): Moderate

Why You Should Ride the Ha Giang

The views of the Vietnamese mountains along the Chinese border will make you cry with happiness. I am not even kidding you- and I’m not even a sentimental person but man, the views were incredible!

Personal Account of the Ha Giang Province:

To kick start this, I figured I would start with one of my favorite routes. During my time riding a motorbike across Vietnam there were points where I almost cried due to the beauty of the landscape around me (don’t judge me). I encountered a few of those points during this route. This route covers less distance than others like the Mae Hong Son and Thakhek Loop in Laos, but it is a lot harder mainly due to the road quality at certain points.

I was left in awe as I made my way across the Northern Vietnamese mountains and along the Chinese border. The roads are winding and narrow with limestone cliffs and mountains all around. During the ride, myself and the guy I was riding with at the time (Steven), couldn’t help but keep stopping to take photos. It is unreal. We climbed up a pass called “Heaven’s Gate Pass” and were spoiled with amazing views of the villages below. We made sure we explored Dong Van along with a few waterfalls along the way. We finished this route back in Ha Giang. One of the highlights of this ride is the fact you get to see many people living their daily lives. Local men are dressed in high-necked tunics and women wear colorful skirts and headdresses. Seeing that made us feel that we were going beyond the tourist trail and truly experiencing Vietnam.

Read: Riding a Motorbike in Vietnam: The Best Six Weeks of My Life hagiang south east asia

The Mae Hong Son Loop, Northern Thailand


Total Distance: 670 kilometers
Days to Complete: 6
Road Conditions: Very good. Mostly concrete
Difficulty (compared to other motorbike routes in this article): Easy due to road condition

Why You Should Ride the Mae Hong Son Loop

To experience the best of Northern Thailand and the overall scenery.

Personal Account of the Mae Hong Song Loop

The Mae Hong Song Loop is one of the most scenic motorcycle routes in Thailand. Like I said in the beginners guide to riding a motorbike, despite being famous for its 1865 curves, it is a favourite amongst beginners. I did this loop clockwise and hit up Pai first. This part of the ride is stunning (like the rest) and in 2016, the roads were made even better with all the road improvements. Riding this loop allowed me to explore more remote parts of Northern Thailand offering a lot of highlights and diversity. I did the loop on my first trip to Thailand with a girl I met in Pai. The girl didn’t have much experience riding but did the whole loop and loved every second of it, so even if you don’t have much experience riding put this at the top of your list.

Related: Riding the Mae Hong Son Loop Review mae hon son loop

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The Thakhek Loop, Central Laos


Total Distance: 465 kilometers
Days to Complete: 3
Road Conditions: Mostly good
Difficulty (compared to other motorbike routes in this article): Easy

Why you Should Ride the Thakhek Loop

The cave named Konglor and overall ride is awesome. The scenery is really diverse.

Personal Account of the Thakhek Loop

Another popular one amongst beginners is the Thakhek Loop in Laos. The route is less distance than the Mae Hon Son loop so it is a little easier but this can change depending on the quality of the roads at the time. The Thakhek Loop will take you through incredible landscapes which again are very diverse. The popular cave along the route named Konglor, is among one of the most impressive caves in Southeast Asia. If you are like me and think you have seen enough caves, still check this one out. Plus the final hour drive towards the cave is amazing in itself. I did the loop anti-clockwise and the first night stayed at Sabaidee Guest House. I would highly recommend this place but make sure you go to the right one. There are two places with the same name and apparently the other isn’t great. This guest house is located just before the bridge over the Nam Theun River on right (if doing the route anti-clockwise).

Read: Planning Your Dream Trip to Laos epic-motorcycle-routes-asia_thakhek

Other Popular Routes

These are some other supposedly epic motorcycle routes that I am personally yet to ride but have listed them here, ready for you to explore.

Sagada-Bontoc-Banaue and Back, Philippines

Riding to Sagada from Manila the capital of the Philippines is popular but now this route Sagada-Bontoc-Banaue and back is becoming more and more known. If you are heading to the Philippines do some research on motorbiking around Sagada and I am sure you will see why.

Resources: Motorcycling Up Northern Philippines

Puerto Princesa to El Nido, Philippines

No traffic and a perfect road is just two of the reasons why more and more people are choosing to ride a motorbike from Puerto Princesa to El Nido.

Resources: Motorbiking in El Nido, Palawan


Looking for more tips on riding motorbikes in Southeast Asia? Check out our other articles

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