Welcome to the Best Adventure Motorcycle Destinations of 2023. This guide lists our top selection of countries to go on a motorcycle adventure this year. You’ll find a bunch of awesome routes based on our personal travels, why they’re so good and what you need to know about riding there…
Adventure Bike Destinations 2023
What is an adventure motorcycle trip?
This guide is aimed at riders who like a mix of both on and off-road on adventure bikes. The routes, roads, and countries may be more hazardous than a road-only trip. If you would prefer an asphalt only tour, check out the Best Motorcycle Touring Destinations of 2023 instead.
How to get to these destinations?
The countries we’ve picked can be accessed via flying in and renting a bike, joining an organised or self-guided tour, or taking your own bike there. We’ll cover your options in each country section below.
How and why did we pick these destinations?
We chose the following countries for 2023 based on our personal experiences riding there and ease of access this year. You’ll find a bunch of online articles listing places to go where the author has just grabbed a bunch of random countries and used pics from search engines with no prior experience or knowledge. This isn’t that. We’ve ridden motorcycles in each of the countries listed, love the places and reckon you will too.
Of course, this list is not exhaustive and there are hundreds of places, roads, routes and countries that could and should be added. But we’d be here forever if we did that, and so have listed a few of our top picks. This article will be regularly and yearly updated.
For more information on riding in other countries, take a look at our Destinations section.
The Best Countries for an Adventure Motorcycle Trip 2023
Best route: Pamir Mountain road, Wakhan Corridor
Route plan: The route starts in the capital (Dushanbe) and heads straight for the border with Afghanistan, hugging it all the way until it eventually swings north. You can then hook back on yourself and ride the Pamir Highway back to Dushanbe and take a detour to the Seven Lakes before heading back to Uzbekistan.
How to get there: Fly to Osh, Kyrgyzstan and rent a motorcycle or join an organised tour. Alternatively, ride your own bike in from Uzbekistan.
Rentals and tours: To rent a bike in Tajikistan is tricky. There aren’t many tour operators. Instead, it’s far easier to rent a motorcycle or join a tour from Osh, Kyrgyzstan. However, the land border between Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan has been closed for the last year because of a conflict. But, you can still get from Kyrgyzstan to Tajikistan via Uzbekistan. Rental bikes from Kyrgyzstan will come with paperwork that will allow you to cross borders.
Taking your own bike: If you are on your own motorcycle, you will want to travel via Uzbekistan. Border crossings here are easy and the Tajik visa can be done online.
Why it’s so good: Tajikistan is one of our absolute favourite countries in the world to ride a motorcycle. The Pamir Mountains will make your jaw drop. Riding along the Wakhan Corridor with Afghanistan just over the river is a special experience. The roads are long stretches of gravel through stunning backdrops. Overlanders bottleneck here as there’s only one main road and you’ll end up meeting and riding with fellow travellers, which makes this route even more fun.
As the land border between Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan is currently closed, your ride will start in Osh, Kyrgyzstan and go through Uzbekistan. These are two incredible countries as well. Uzbekistan was once the jewel of the Silk Road and its buildings and architecture are a must see while Kyrgyzstan is one of the most nomadic countries in the world and a quick ride up to the high pastures of Lake Song Kol is another must.
More info: You will find loads more info on the above countries in our Destination guides including paperwork, great routes, things to do and more.
Best route: Mae Hong Son Loop
The route: The route will take you from Chiang Mai to Wat Chan, Pai, Mae Hong Son, Mae Sariang, Mae Chaem and then back to Chiang Mai. You’ll be riding decent tarmac through forests and mountain roads. The riding can be fast or slow paced but is all on road. You can take a lot of off-road routes if you fancy it though.
How to get there: Fly to Chiang Mai in the north, rent a bike or join a tour and head west towards Myanmar.
Rentals and tours: To rent a bike in Thailand is incredibly easy. And so is joining an organised motorcycle tour. Whether you rent or join a tour is dependent on how comfortable you feel on a bike in a foreign country. Thailand’s roads can be dangerous and so you will need to keep your wits about you, but the route can be easily completed solo.
Taking your own bike: Getting to Southeast Asia with your own motorcycle is increasingly difficult because of the shut borders with Myanmar and Thailand’s entry requirements. But it can be done. You’ll find more info in our Thailand guides.
Why it’s so good: Thailand is an amazing place to ride a motorcycle. It’s so easy to ride there, the country is well setup for tourism, renting is simple, the tours are superb and the riding is amongst the best in Southeast Asia. If you fancy an adventure bike tour with minimal fuss, Thailand is your go to.
But, that doesn’t mean the Mae Hong Son Loop is easy. You’ve got 400 miles of twists, turns and bends to cover through Thailand’s rural north. What makes it extra special are the places, sights, attractions, villages and towns you’ll stop off at along the way.
More info: You will find loads more info on riding the Mae Hong Son Loop and Thailand in general in our Destination guides including paperwork, great routes, things to do and more.
Best route: The Ha Giang Loop
The route: The loop goes from Ha Giang to Yen Minh, Dong Van, Meo Vac, Du Gia and back to Ha Giang. It’s roughly 300kms and typically takes three to five days.
How to get there: Fly to Hanoi and either rent a motorcycle from there and ride up to Ha Giang (if you want to take on a bigger tour) or get yourself to Hanoi and jump on a bus to Ha Giang and rent / join a tour there.
Rentals and tours: You can easily rent a motorcycle or semi-automatic in Vietnam – especially in Ha Giang or Hanoi. The HGL is well set up for motorcycle rentals and tours because it’s such a popular route for bikers.
Taking your own bike: It’s near impossible to take a foreign registered motorcycle or vehicle into Vietnam (by all means, try, but it’s not worth the money, time and hassle). You can buy a motorcycle in Vietnam if you don’t want to rent one or will be there for a long time. You can then take this bike into Laos and Cambodia for a longer trip.
Why it’s so good: The Ha Giang Loop is renowned for being one of the best motorcycle rides in Southeast Asia (if not the world). The loop takes in Vietnam’s extreme north bordering China. It’s an epic mountainous region with incredibly beautiful raw landscapes and roads that climb through the clouds before plunging into valleys. Vistas of green, misty mountains, jagged karst and insane roads… you’ll love it.
It’s not just the crazy riding though. Staying with and meeting the local people in Ha Giang adds another element to this trip. Homestays are a big part of the travel up there, eating dinner with a local family and immersing yourself in Vietnamese culture makes this ride even more special.
More info: You’ll find lots of extra info and how to guides on riding the Ha Giang Loop in Vietnam in our below guides.
Best route: Lo Manthang.
The route: From Pokhara north to mythical Lo Manthang.
How to get there: Get yourself to Pokhara and make your way north to Lower and then Upper Mustang. There’s one way up and down.
Rentals and tours: The best way to visit Lo Manthang on a motorcycle is by joining an organised tour. Getting there any other way is exceptionally difficult because it’s a restricted area, you need multiple permits, you’re not allowed to go alone and must be accompanied by a licenced guide. A tour company will handle all of this for you.
Taking your own bike: If you really want to travel with your own bike, you can but will still need to join a tour or have a licenced guide accompany you. It’s far easier and more cost effective to join a tour where the bike is provided for you as there will be a backup vehicle carrying your luggage (you don’t want to be weighed down on this ride) and they will have all the necessary spares and parts for your rental bike, plus a mechanic on hand. It’s not the sort of place you want to break down.
Why it’s so good: Lo Manthang is a place whispered amongst hardy travellers and explorers. Extremely hard to get to, heavily restricted. Controlled and expensive – but it is like stepping into another world. It’s an unexplored region and one of the world’s last true frontiers and that makes it gold dust for motorcycle travellers and trekkers alike. The old kingdom is nestled high in the Himalayas and the ride to get there is out of this world. It’s exceptionally remote and rugged with tough routes to get there and back. But it’s worth it just to visit this time warp.
But not for long… It only opened up to the outside world in the early ‘90s and back then it was only a small handful of trekkers who made the journey. Post Covid, motorcycle tour groups have started to go up there, soon it will be far more visited. So, if you want to go, now is the time.
More info: The below guides have all the information you need to ride to Lo Manthang as well as our experiences riding there.
Best route: Porto and the Douro River.
The route: We recommend starting in Porto, head for the Douro River and chase it along the legendary National 222. You’ll find a huge mix of gravel and off-road routes of varying difficulties with tarmac routes connecting them.
How to get there: Either ride your own bike to Portugal or fly to Porto and rent or join a tour.
Rentals and tours: Portugal makes it easy to rent a bike, join an organised tour or a self-guided one. It completely depends on how long you’ve got, what you want to see and how you like to ride. If you’re strapped for time and want everything pre-arranged, we’d opt for a self-guided tour. A company will book all your hotels in advance and give you a loaded GPS with daily routes to each hotel already plotted out. All you have to do is turn up and ride.
Taking your own bike: Taking your own bike into Portugal is also very easy. If you’re from the UK or Europe, then it’s worthwhile. Otherwise, it may be easier to fly in and rent or join a tour.
Why it’s so good: Portugal is a slice of motorcycling paradise. It’s got everything an adventure rider wants and needs. Endless off-road tracks from easy to proper enduro, sweeping tarmac routes, tight switchbacks, mountain and forest roads, coastline, delicious food and wine, wonderful people and gorgeous towns. You’ve got to be careful here, it’s easy to stay way too long.
We headed to Porto for our honeymoon, rented a KTM 790 Adventure as part of a self-guided tour and headed off to explore one of the most romantic spots in Europe – the gorgeous wine vineyards of the Douro River. Off-road routes and gravel tracks climb into mountains and through vineyards, flowing alongside rivers and through sun drenched forests. The riding here is as beautiful as the country.
More info: These guides are packed with info on how to join a tour in Portugal, our riding experience there, the best rental companies as well as more detailed info on riding through this brilliant biking country.
Best route: The Gobi Desert
The route: Get to the Gobi Desert on the border with China and lose yourself. There is no route here.
How to get there: The easiest way to ride in Mongolia’s Gobi Desert is to join an organised tour. Fly to the capital, Ulaanbaatar and your tour company will collect you and drive you south to the Gobi to start your tour.
Rentals and tours: Tours are far easier and more common than rentals in Mongolia. With a rental, you’re likely looking at a pretty rough low-capacity machine that’s not suitable for the long ride south or the sand. Tour companies are far better equipped, but the bikes and riding tends to be enduro based.
Taking your own bike: You can ride in Mongolia with your own motorcycle. Entry is difficult now due to Russian visas and it’s unlikely you’ll be coming up from China. So, unless you’re on a round the world trip and heading that way anyway, joining a tour or renting is the way to go.
Why it’s so good: Endless sand dunes, nomads, eagle hunters, yurts and horses. Mongolia is the wild west of Asia and one of the most incredible places on earth to ride a motorcycle. It’s a vast and rugged wonderland.
More info: Detailed guides on riding in Mongolia as well as our recommended rental and tour companies if you’d prefer to join an organised tour.
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Are you planning an adventure motorcycle trip? Do you have any questions or recommendations? Let us know in the comments below.