The northern Laos loop takes us through a clockwise route from Vientiane to Xayaboury (also Sayabouli or Sainyabuli), followed by Luang Prabang, Nong Khiaw, Xam Neua (also Sam Neua), Phonsavan and Vang Vieng before bringing us back to Vientiane.
For this loop, it is best to plan at least ten days in order to ride at a reasonable pace and have adequate time for sightseeing. Depending on your interests, adding Hongsa (they have an elephant festival every year), Oudom Xai or Phongsali to the trip are possible. After all, this is the flexibility we enjoy by not taking a tour and having our own transport. Personally, I spent eight days for the 1700km loop. I had a pretty rushed trip and except for Vientiane, I did not spend more than a night at any other cities or towns. I wished I had spared more time for Phonsavan.
Map of northern Laos and route taken