The best motorcycle roads in Asia
Looking for once-in-a-lifetime ride inspiration? If you fancy an adventure and you’re looking beyond your usual local touring options, then why not explore further afield? How about much further afield? Here’s a selection of some of the best motorcycle routes that Asia has to offer.
Mae Hong Song Loop, Northern Thailand
Thailand forms a significant part of that landmass that hangs below southern China and points down towards Indonesia. The Mae Hong Song Loop is a 500-mile circular trail in north-west Thailand, about half of which tracks the northern border with Myanmar, with most riders beginning and finishing their adventure in the tourist-friendly hub of Chiang Mai; all of which make this one of the best motorcycle tours Asia has to offer. The region is quite mountainous with large areas of dense jungle, so expect winding roads with plenty of tight hairpins, large expanses of verdant farmed land, and an endless supply of palm tree leaf-thatched towns and villages along the way.
This is an epic journey sprinkled with picture-postcard natural scenery including bright-green paddy fields and terraces, herds of water buffalo grazing by lustrous lakes, and velvety mountainside swathes of tea plantations, although some of the roads are so challenging and requiring of so much concentration that you might have to remind yourself to take regular riding breaks now and again to fully appreciate the natural magnificence around you.
Ho Chi Minh Trail between Nha Trang to Hoi An
With a long east-facing coastline that looks out over the South China Sea, Vietnam is physically a fairly close neighbour to Thailand. The Ho Chi Minh Trail was essentially a wartime supply route that meanders for almost that entire length of the country, but many people consider the best bit of it all to be a 400-mile section that follows the coastline between Nha Trang and Hoi An. Combining coastal roads with inland highland tracks, you’ll experience a deeply representative collection of wonderful Vietnamese scenery, culture and locals along the way. And with a mixture of riding surfaces that range from pothole-scarred tarmac highways, dusty tracks, and jungle canopy-covered dirt trails, you will be tested, you will be exhausted, but you’ll also be banking countless genuinely amazing tales to tell for many years to come.
Tha Khek Loop, Central Laos
Laos is a fairly small landlocked country that is nestled in a strip between Thailand to the west and Vietnam to the east. The Tha Khek Loop is a 300-mile circuit that boasts remarkable scenery varying from mountain ranges, forest regions, glistening lakes, national parks and flat plains. Named after the bustling town that the circuit usually starts from and finishes at, this is an Asian motorcycle tour that could be completed in three days although the surroundings are so stunning that many riders take five days to savour the trail and its sights, because just by stopping off and exploring a little you can ‘discover’ a whole new world that includes spectacular waterfalls for relaxing by, shaded lagoons for swimming in, and mountain caverns to explore. You’ll be able to get a route map from any motorbike hire shop in the area, as well as suggestions of where to stay en route.
There are so many amazing staggeringly beautiful motorcycle routes in Asia to choose from and this is of course just a tiny selection, but there’s just one more thing to consider when planning any motorbike trips to Asia: there are very rainy monsoon seasons, and they differ from region to region so you should check the weather patterns before you book.
You may love off-roading, but adventuring through a tropical monsoon is going to test the enthusiasm of even the most fanatical of riders!