laos roads: now with 50% more asphalt


Jan 8, 2010
did some bicycling last july (2014) and again this feb (2015).

beginning in the south. the road (hwy 23?) from hwy 15 near salavan
to the broken bridge was just about ready for paving. widened and
scraped and flattened with lotsa new pipes and culverts.

nothing going on at the bridge then, road north to toumlan was still
a single lane dirt affair with rough plank bridges. toumlan west to
hwy 13 was all dirt.

hwy 23 from phin south to the 2nd broken bridge was just about ready
for paving. new bridge pylons are currently being built. there's a new
gas station at tadhai just completed. no pumps yet....coming soon.

nabo to vilabury is paved, some sections crumbly and potholed, but
pretty easy overall.

vilabury to na phoe is an easy day's ride (on bicycle). good packed
gravel/dirt roads with a few small water crossings (dry season).
final 10km coming into bualapha is ready for paving, as is the
road west to mahaxay. i continued north on dirt road. no bridge
at the saang river. there's a good ford, water about a meter deep.
there are small boats to ferry you across, which i noticed AFTER
portaging my bike across about 150m river. i suspect a bridge
will be coming soon, as there are new smaller bridges being
built between the river and na phoe. last few km before the
junction with hwy 12 are very rough cobblestones. there's a
small overpriced karaoke guesthouse a couple km from the
junction in the direction of vietnam.

hwy 12 between na phoe and gnommolath is nicely paved, kool
ride along the karsts.

hwy 1E (8S on gt rider map) is nicely paved. reports of 12% grades?
seems the road was redone at the hydropower plant, easy ride on a
bicycle, didn't seem like more than 8%. couple km north of natai
is a new dirt trail that allegedly goes to the village at the south
end of kong lor cave. pavement continues until about 31km south
of lak sao. if dry no problem. if rain, then the red clay is very gooey
and will clog up your gears and chain, and at the same time is
very slippery. several dirtbikers said they dropped their bikes here.
one cyclist could not make it, had to flag down a pickup.
construction underway, will be paved soon.

nice pavement on hwy 8 to the junction with hwy 1D, which is now
nicely paved to phonsavan. light traffic, hills and curves. great
scenery and 10% grades. so-so guesthouse at vieng thong.

continued on to crappy guesthouse at thasi. good pavement but
very tough on a bicycle. endless series of 10-12% grades and
nice scenery.

at thasi is the junction with hwy 5101 to pakxan. first 15 km is
evil! a few crumbling remnants of ashphalt, but mostly dust
and cobbles....and five 18% grades to climb.