Trip planner: Laos on paved roads

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Trip planner: Laos on paved roads

Index:

1. Introduction
2. Paved Routes in Laos
3. Sample itineraries
4. Following the Mekong
5. Destinations
6. Entry points to Laos
7. Practicalities
8. Information resources

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1. Introduction

«Where in the hell is Laos?»(1) - As the communist «People Democratic Republic» has opened itself to the World and adopted a «New Economic Mechanism» more people are able to point to it on a map and less politicians question its existence as a «real» nation.

Grants Evans writes: «… it is I think incontestable that the modern state of Laos only exists because of French colonial occupation. Without this it is almost certain that at least the lowland areas of Laos would have become part of the Thai state, while upland areas such as Houaphan (which only became part of French Laos in the 1930s anyway) would probably have been absorbed by Vietnam.» (2)

This is history, modern Laos has solid and uncontested boundaries. The borders are less obvious in terms of inhabitants, as the majority is composed of ethnic minorities. The population is divided in three strata, related to their usual living altitudes. In the lowlands the «Lao Loum» are of Tai origin (from Guangxi and Yunnan). The middle altitudes are populated by «Lao Theung», mostly Khmu, a Môn-Khmer ethnic group, indigenous to northern Laos. Altitudes above 1000 meters are the dwellings of «Lao Soung» the «mountain folks». They are of Sino-Tibetan origin, like the Hmong, Akha, Yao, Mien, Lahu and others. Forced resettlements, particularly of highlanders, tend to displace people to a lower altitude and to mix villages along roads.

Sometimes compared to Switzerland, Laos is a small mountainous country, irrigated by numerous rivers but without access to the sea. Its attempt to be politically neutral failed and powerful neighbours extends their economic and cultural influences far over its frontiers.

Hydroelectric power is the main export resource of the country and the slow renewal timber commodity might soon dry out, as many hills are already razed to boldness.

Laos is small only in terms of population; years of war and deportation have kept its demography low. Improvements, in recent times, increased the numbers to 6,5 millions inhabitants. The country's area is four times larger than Switzerland and slightly smaller than the United Kingdom.

“Visit Laos Year 2012” should again foster tourism, already the fasted growing sector. For bikers, this country is attractive, as it is open and easy going for two wheelers (with the exception of “Friendship Bridges” crossings).

In the North, the attractions are stunning trails cutting along mountain rims, pristine forests and the ethnic diversity of people dwelling along the roads. For history lovers, archaeological sites, the Royal Luang Prabang, Pathet Laos caves and scares from recent wars are testimonials of the splendour and hardship of the “Kingdom of a Million Elephants”.

Central and South Laos afford a totally different scenery. The “Annamite Mountain Chain” also marks the border with Vietnam, but the large alluvial Mekong basin occupies the main land area, eventually leaving some space for the elevated Bolaven plateau. It is a region of water, thousands of islands, rivers and spectacular waterfalls. With the Khmer ruins of Wat Phu, the former Kingdom of Champasak and old colonial cities, the region also offers many historical testimonials.

Vientiane is Laos’ centre of gravity, still an unavoidable link between the North and the South. The recent economic liberalisation (NEM) has hit one of the last sleepy and forgotten Asian capitals. As always, changes are for the best and for the worst, but the city is still a good stop-over place.

The links to the GT-Rider posts, in the following chapters, are referenced with the newest information on the top. The classification follows the main topic of each write-up, sometimes an arbitrary choice. For readers preparing a trip through the country, it is advisable to extend the research to neighbouring themes, as the information might be scattered over multiple posts.

(1) In: “Tragedy in Paradise”, Charles Weldon, Asia Books 1999
(2) In: “Laos: Culture and Society”, Grant Evans, Silkworm Books 1999


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2. Paved Routes in Laos

Route 13 Boten - Veun Kham
Route 13 (North) North of Vientiane
Route 13 (South) South of Vientiane

Route 1B Sin Xai (Pak Nam Noi) – Phongsali
Route 1C Pak Mong - Nong Khiew - Vieng Thong - Phou Lao
Route 1H Link between Route 20 (Beng) and 16 (Thateng)
Route 2W Muang Ngeun - Pak Beng - Oudom Xai
Route 2E Oudom Xai - Muang La - Muang Khua - Sop Hun (Vietnam)
Route 3 Houei Xai - Vieng Phoukha - Luang Namtha
Route 4 Xiang Ngeun - Xayaboury (Tha Li, Hongsa)
Route 6 Muang Kham - Phou Lao - Xam Neua - Na Meo/Nam Xoi (Vietnam)
Route 7 Phou Khoun - Phonsavan (Plain of Jars) - Muang Kham - Nam Kanh (Vn)
Route 8 Vieng Kham - Kong Lo caves - Vietnam
Route 9W Savannakhet
Route 9E Xeno (Savannakhet) - Phin - Dene Savan (Vietnam )
Route 10 Phonsavan - Muang Khoune - Thathom - Pakxan
Route Thalat - Nam Ngum - Vientiane
Route 12 Thakhek - Na Phao (Vietnam)
Route 15 Salavan - Napong
Route 16 W Chong Mek/ Vang Tao - Pakxe
Route 16 E/ 16 Pakxe - Tad Fane - Pakxong - Thateng - Sekong - Attapeu - Noc Hoi
Route 17A Luang Namtha - Muang Sing
Route 18 Attapeu - Thang Beng
Route 20 Houayhe - Tadlo - Salavan

Laos’ topography is like an elongated fish, his head touching China's Yunnan and his tail in Cambodia. “Route Colonial 13”, is its backbone, the main artery crossing the whole territory. Connection roads to other countries have been cut, paved and renovated, mostly with foreign funds and to foster foreign interest.

Route 13 Boten - Veun Kham

The main highway of Laos drives north-south, from Boten (the Chinese border) down to Veun Kham (the border with Cambodia) at a length of more than 1000 kilometres. In the North, it is cut along mountain rims and, from Vientiane, follows the Mekong in his alluvial plain. This trail is mostly paved but suffered important erosions on some sectors (notably Oudom Xai to Pak Mong). Other portions of Route 13 were recently renovated.

Route 13 (North) North of Vientiane

Most Laos northern loops start from Thailand, beginning on Route 3 and driving to the junction with Route 13 in Na Teuy, after a short trip on Route 13B. The actual beginning of Route 13, however, is at the Chinese border, in Boten.

From Na Teuy to Oudom Xai, the recently renovated pavement is a bikers’ treat. Later on, and till Pak Mong (80 kilometres), the road becomes badly eroded, than heavily potholed, till Luang Prabang.

From the “Royal City”, the last stretch, toward Vientiane, passes Vang Vieng (a scenic but “mixed-blessing” stop-over). As an alternative, Route 10 (parallel link), can be followed for the last segment before joining the capital.

Northeast Laos - 3. Epilogue (Sam Nuea, Phonsavan)
The Luang Prabang Loop
Northeast Laos - 2. Sam Nuea and a Winding Drive Back
A meander through the North Dec 2011
Royal Enfield Roadrunners through Laos Thailand
Northeast Laos - 1. Luang Prabang and Mountain Roads
An Easy Road to Laos - 2 The Road to Luang Prabang
Lucky Route 13. Laos
An Easy Road to Laos - 1 Crossing the border

Route 13 (South) South of Vientiane

South of Vientiane and down to the Cambodian border, the character of Route 13 changes radically. The narrow and winding mountain link becomes a mostly straight stretch, following the Mekong valley. More space is available for settlements and villages are no longer amalgamated to the highway. The traffic, on many sectors, remains low and the tarmac is often appropriated by cattle walking to their pastures.

Chiang Mai – Attapeu Via Siphandon (Mekong 4000 Islands) Return
Photos, Nov 05, 8 day ride N. West Loop
Southern Laos - Lao New Year 2012
South Laos - 3 Central Laos
South Laos - 1 Ferry Tales
PETER HOOPER's Message Part I Sisaket - Laos - Sisaket
Southern Laos 10 days with the GF – “Madam Champa.”

Route 1B Sin Xai (Pak Nam Noi) – Phongsali

Oudom Xai to Phongsali, tarmac all the way.
Phongsali & "the Lost World At The End Of The Road".

Route 1C Pak Mong - Nong Khiew - Vieng Thong - Phou Lao

This is an enjoyable mountain trail, part of the loop to Sam Nuea and Phonsavan. Narrow, winding and cutting through many hamlets, it is not a high speed link, particularly for picture loving bikers. After Nong Khiew, a recommended stop-over city, the next place to spend a night is Vieng Thong.

Northeast Laos - 3. Epilogue (Sam Nuea, Phonsavan)
GTR Laos Guide Map in Never Stop Riding Laos Biking VDO
Northeast Laos - 2. Sam Nuea and a Winding Drive Back
Chiang Mai - Hanoi Back Part 6 Xam Nua - Nong Khiew
R1c Nong Khiew - Vieng Thong / Muang Hiam
R1c Vieng Thong / Muang Hiam - Phou Lao - R6 - Xam Neua

Route 1H Link between Route 20 (Beng) and 16 (Thateng)

This short paved itinerary is a junction between route 20 to Salavan and Route 16 to Sekong and Attapeu.

South Laos - 2 Around the Bolevan

Route 2W Muang Ngeun - Pak Beng - Oudom Xai

Route 2W is a lovely slow pace link, along the Beng river. It connects border crossing from Thailand (Huay Kon/Muang Ngeun) to Oudom Xai (route 13). The harbour city of Pak Beng offers a relaxed stop-over at the west side of the journey.

Northeast Laos - 1. Luang Prabang and Mountain Roads

Route 2E Oudom Xai - Muang La - Muang Khua - Sop Hun (Vietnam)

Information needed

Route 3 Houei Xai - Vieng Phoukha - Luang Namtha

This main connection between North Thailand and North Laos, has recently been renovated and upgraded to a pleasant smooth ride. The distance can be covered in 3 to 4 hours and, if needed, Vieng Phouka offers some rustic accommodation for a stop-over.

Northeast Laos - 2. Sam Nuea and a Winding Drive Back
A meander through the North Dec 2011
Chiang Mai – Xam Nua Return
A Short Loop to Norwest Laos
Chiang Mai - Muang Sing (Boun That Xieng Teung festival) - Return.

Route 4 Xiang Ngeun - Xayaboury (Tha Li, Hongsa)

Route 4 is still under improvement and a dusty story. It is the shortest link between Luang Prabang and Thailand (Nan province) but still mostly used by off-road bikers.

Hongsa to Xayaboury is now paved

GTR 2013 Mekong Boat Trip Houei Xai - Luang Prabang a bit more.
Luang Prabang TO Hongsa
Around Northlaos and Norththailand
Royal Enfield Roadrunners through Laos Thailand

Route 6 Muang Kham - Phou Lao - Xam Neua - Na Meo/Nam Xoi (Vietnam)

A strategic link between Vietnam and the Plain of Jars, route 6 is of historic importance.
Today it is the main itinerary for a visit to Xam Neua. It is nicely mountainous, narrow and winding. The intersection with Route 1C (from Pak Mong) is in Phou Lao.

Northeast Laos – 4 Hintang and the Jars
Northeast Laos - 2. Sam Nuea and a Winding Drive Back
Northeast Laos - 1. Luang Prabang and Mountain Roads

Route 7 Phou Khoun - Phonsavan (Plain of Jars) - Muang Kham - Nam Kanh (Vietnam)

This is another strategic link between Vietnam, the Plain of Jars and Route 13. It is a segment of the Xiengkouang loop (visit of the jars sites) and is connected to Route 6 (Sam Nuea loop).

Northeast Laos - 1. Luang Prabang and Mountain Roads
An Easy Road to Laos - 3 Plain of Jars
Xmas in Laos
Peter Hooper's Message Part I Sisaket - Laos - Sisaket

Route 8 Vieng Kham - Kong Lo caves - Vietnam

From Vientiane, the shortest way to Vietnam is through Route 8. It is the way to the Kong Lo caves and offers an interesting viewpoint toward a karst limestone forest.

South Laos - 3 Central Laos

Route 9W Savannakhet

Ringroad linking Savannakhet with Route 13, North of the city (another road connects to Route 13, south of the city)

Route 9E Xeno (Savannakhet) - Phin - Dene Savan (Vietnam )

Information needed

Route 10 Phonsavan - Muang Khoune - Thathom - Pakxan

This route is under construction and still unpaved on many sectors. It is, already used as a shortcut from Phonsavan to Pakxan

Information needed

Route Thalat - Nam Ngum - Vientiane

This is an alternative itinerary, parallel to Route 13, passing near Nam Ngum artificial lake.

An Easy Road to Laos - 4. Back to Nong Khai

Route 12 Thakhek - Na Phao (Vietnam)

Information needed

Route 15 Salavan - Napong

Information needed



Route 16W Chong Mek/ Vang Tao - Pakxe

This is the main Route between South Isan (Ubon) and Laos. It is a land border crossing, as the bridge over the Mekong river is inside Laos, in Pakxe.

South Laos - 1 Ferry Tales
Southern Laos 10 days with the GF – “Madam Champa.”

Route 16 E/ 16 Pakxe - Tad Fane - Pakxong - Thateng - Sekong - Attapeu - Noc Hoi (Vn)

This itinerary follows the rim of the Bolaven Plateau, till Sekong, with a junction to Route 20 and later on, the shortcut 1H, also to Salavan. It passes near the majestic twin Tad Fane waterfalls.

South Laos - 2 Around the Bolevan
Southern Laos 10 days with the GF – “Madam Champa.”

Route 17A Luang Namtha - Muang Sing

The connection to Northwest Laos, comes to a dead end in Muang Sing (no international crossing to China and no paved road continuing to the West).

A Short Loop to Norwest Laos
Chiang Mai - Muang Sing (Boun That Xieng Teung festival) - Return.
Muang Sing (or Bust). Riding In N.laos For The Boun That Xieng Teung Festival

Route 18 Attapeu - Thang Beng

Continuation of Route 16 toward Attapeu and eventually Vietnam.

South Laos - 2 Around the Bolevan

Route 20 Houayhe - Tadlo - Salavan

This branch-out of Route 16 leads to Salawan (passing the picturesque Tadlo waterfalls).

South Laos - 2 Around the Bolevan
Southern Laos 10 days with the GF – “Madam Champa.”

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3. Sample itineraries


Laos’ elongated shape, with Route 13 as a main and unavoidable link, allows a “modular” planning of promenades through the country. It is appropriate to differentiate itineraries going north or south of Vientiane. Access to the northern loops is usually through north Thailand and through Isan, for the South. Both Thai regions can also be used as starting or ending points, for combined north and south trips. The sample itineraries follow one direction, but most of them can be driven in the reverse sense (at the exception of friendship bridge crossings).

North of Vientiane

Luang Prabang loop [Route 3, Route 13]
Muang Sing loop [Route 17A, 17B]
Oudom xai - Muang Khua – Phongsali loop [Routes 2E, 1B, 1A]
Pak Beng link [Route 2W]
Xam Neua loop [Route 1C, Route 6, Route 7, Route 13]
Phonsavan (Plain of Jars) loop [Route 7]
Luang Prabang – Vientiane (Nong Khai) link [Route 13]

South of Vientiane

Central Laos, Vientiane to Pakxe [Route 13]
Vieng kham –Kong Lo caves (Tham Kong Lo) - Lak Sao [Route 8]
Isan – South-Laos (Pakxe, Champasak, Veun Kham) [Route 16W, Route 13]
Bolevan plateau loop (Salavan, Sekong, Attapeu) [Routes 16 and 11]
Pakse – Salavan loop [Route 16E, Route 20]

North of Vientiane

Luang Prabang loop [Route 3, Route 13]

The border crossing is in Chiang Khong/ Huay Xai. It takes about four hours to rally the rim of the Mekong from Chiangmai, and another two hours to be on the road in Laos. Luang Namtha is another three hours away, making a trip from Chiangmai to a full day’s ride.

After Luang Namtha, Nong Khiew or Luang Prabang can be reached in the the second day. After a stop-over in Nong Khiew, the third day is a short ride to Luang Prabang.

As an alternative, some bikers spend the first night in Chiang Khong or Houay Xay and start early the second day. This allows them to reach Oudom Xai, or Nong Khiew on the second day. Overnight stops in Luang Namtha and Nong Khiew provide some lead time for visits and pictures.

The return from Luang Prabang can follow the same Route, or, after Oudom Xai fork in direction of Pak Beng and Huay Kon/Muang Ngeun (Thailand border) border on route 2W.

The Luang Prabang Loop
An Easy Road to Laos - 2 The Road to Luang Prabang
Chiang Mai – Xam Nua Return

Chiang-Mai, Pak Beng, Luang Prabang, Vientiane, Non Khai, Chiang-Mai = 2700 km

Muang Sing loop [Route 17A, 17B]

The Muang Sing loop (Route 17 A, 17 B) is a one day excursion from Luang Namtha. With a tiny market, a broad ethnic diversity, particularly a large Tai Lue community, this small remote city, is worth a little more time to hang around and discover the neighbourhoods.

Bikers starting their trip in Chiang Khong / Houei Xai, can reach Muang Sing the same day.

A Short Loop to Norwest Laos
Chiang Mai - Muang Sing (Boun That Xieng Teung festival) - Return.
Muang Sing (or Bust). Riding In N.laos For The Boun That Xieng Teung Festival

Oudom xai - Muang Khua – Phongsali loop [Routes 2E, 1B, 1A]

Information needed

Itinerary from Oudom Xai on Routes 2E, 1B, 1A

Pak Beng link [Route 2W]

Route 2W (“Asian Highway 13” ) is a junction road from Thailand's Nan province (Huay Kon/Muang Ngeun) to Oudom Xai (route 13). It provides an entry or exit point to Laos. This slow pace trail, along the Beng river, is worth the drive for itself. Pak Beng, a harbour city for cruises along the Mekong river, provides a relaxed stop-over at the beginning of the road.

An Easy Road to Laos - 1 Crosing the border
Chiang Mai - Hanoi Back Part 6 Xam Nua - Nong Khiew

Xam Neua loop [Route 1C, Route 6, Route 7, Route 13]

Driving clockwise, the actual Sam Neua loop starts in Pak Mong, at the junction of Route 13 and Route 1C. Nong Khiew is only 30 kilometres down the intersection, on a well paved trail. It is a convenient stop-over for a trip starting the same day in Luang Namtha or Muang Sing (and just half day away fom Luang Prabang, in the other direction).

Vieng Thong is an usual stop-over for the next day. There is not too much to see and to do there, but his remoteness and the permanent electricity breakdowns, make it a lively experience. Route 1C is punctuated with hamlets and it is worth to slow down to observe the life of the mountain people.

The third day drives through Phou Lao and continues on Route 6, toward Sam Nuea. It is possible to drive straight down to Phonsavan, but it would be a pity to come so close and skip an interesting part of the Houa Phan province.

A visit to the Vieng Xai caves (Phatet Lao hides) is a one day excursion from Xam Neua. Route 6 drives another 60 kilometres further west, to Na Meo and the Vietnamese border.

From Sam Nuea, it takes one day (passing near Muang Kham and the Hintang stones) on Route 6 and Route 7, to reach Phonsavan.

One more day, and the loop is closed in Luang Prabang. This itinerary takes 6 days and can be reduced to five without the Vieng Xai visit. Another day can be added to ramble around Sam Nuea and visit the Hintang stones archaeological park.

Northeast Laos - 3. Epilogue (Sam Nuea, Phonsavan)
Northeast Laos - 2. Sam Nuea and a Winding Drive Back
Northeast Laos - 1. Luang Prabang and Mountain Roads
Chiang Mai - Hanoi Back Part 6 Xam Nua - Nong Khiew
Escaping From Xam Neua & Laos.

Phonsavan (Plain of Jars) loop [Route 7]

This is a cultural and historic itinerary, leading through one of the fiercest battlegrounds of the second Indochina war. The highlight is a visit to the archlogical parcs of megalithic jars. The promenade can be extended to a “Sam Nuea loop” (Route 6), with a return journey through Viengthong (Route 1C).

Northeast Laos - 3. Epilogue (Sam Nuea, Phonsavan)
Around Northlaos and Norththailand

Luang Prabang – Vientiane (Nong Khai) link [Route 13]

This is one of the most travelled roads in Laos, as it connects its two main cities and is still an unavoidable (paved) junction between North and South itineraries. A popular stop-over along the trail is Vang Vieng.

An Easy Road to Laos - 4. Back to Nong Khai

South of Vientiane

Central Laos, Vientiane to Pakxe [Route 13]

Vientiane - Route 13 South - Savannakhet


Vieng kham –Kong Lo caves (Tham Kong Lo) - Lak Sao [Route 8]

"Route 8" ("Asian highway 15") leads to Lak Sao and to the Vietnamese border. It crosses the Khammouane province, nicely winding and climbing the mountain, often shaded by large canopies and punctuated with rugged limestone cliffs. Sala Hin Boun view point offers a panorama over a limestone forest. A newly paved branchout, before Na Hin (Ban Khoun Kham), leads to the Kong Lo caves.

South Laos - 3 Central Laos

Isan – South-Laos (Pakxe, Champasak, Veun Kham) [Route 16W, Route 13]

This is the main Itinerary between South Isan (Ubon) and Laos. After a land border crossing in Chong Mek (the bridge over the Mekong river is inside Laos), route 16W leads to Pakxe.
From there, the loop follows Route 13 toward the South, with a ferry crossing over the Mekong to visit Champasak and Wat Phou.

A shortcut has recently been opened on the west bank of the Mekong (starting before the bridge in Pakxe). It should now be totally paved, providing an easy access to Champasak.

Further down Route 13, ferry crossings allow visits to Kong Island and to others of the “Four Thousand Islands” of the Mekong. This itineray also features the Khone Phapheng waterfall, a main attractions of South Laos. The loop ends at the border with Cambodia (crossing by motorcycle is possible).

South Laos - 1 Ferry Tales
Southern Laos 10 days with the GF – “Madam Champa.”

Bolevan plateau loop (Salavan, Sekong, Attapeu) [Routes 16 and 11]

It is not yet possible to fully circle around the Bolaven Plateau on paved roads, as the southern link, Route 18, is still a difficult trail. The itinerary toward Attapeu on Route 16E passes the Tad Fane twin waterfall and continues on Route 16 to Sekong and then on Route 11, eventually leading to the Vietnamese border.

Back from Attapeu, an unpaved alternative Route crosses the Bolaven toward Pakxong. It is a practicable forest road, but stony and slippery when humid)

Another journey back to Pakse is through Route 1H, the sortcut from Thateng to Beng (Route 16).

South Laos - 2 Around the Bolevan
Southern Laos 10 days with the GF – “Madam Champa.”

Pakse – Salavan loop [Route 16E, Route 20]

The trip begins on Route 16E, as for the Bolaven plateau loop. Combining both itineraries provides diversity and avoids some return trips on the same roads. For bikers heading only to Salavan, it is advisable to continue till « Tad Fane » and have a glimpse to this impressive waterfal. A short drive back and a junction leads to Route 20. The charming « Tad Lo » waterfall is located along this road. It is a small tourist destination with a couple of guesthouses for a stop-over.

An alternative return itinerary from Salavan, it through Route 1H, a shortcut toward route 16 (heading to Sekong and Attapeu or back to Pakse).

South Laos - 2 Around the Bolevan
Southern Laos 10 days with the GF – “Madam Champa.”

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4. Following the Mekong


The “Great River” (the “Mighty Mekong”) is omnipresent all along the elongated Laos country. From the top North, coming from China along the Myanmar border, down to Thailand and Cambodia it delimits the country’s border (with two exceptions, where the French where able to curb the boundaries inside their colonial territory).

This large waterway provides many enjoyable moments for bikers, with bridges inside the country or over the borders, boat trips (with bikes onboard), fabulous sceneries and gorgeous waterfalls.

This chapter is dedicated particularly to trips along the Mekong rim and cruises on the river.


A Mekong promenade:

First (1st) part: The Isan Rim (A Mekong Promenade - The Isan Rim)
Second (2nd) part: South Laos (A Mekong Promenade Part 2 – South Laos)
Third (3rd) part: Vientiane to Luang Prabang (A Mekong Promenade, Part 3 – Vientiane to Luang Prabang)
Fourth (4th) part: In memoriam of some Mekong explorers (A Mekong Promenade - part 4: In memoriam of some Mekong explorers)
Fifth (5th) part: Xayaboury, Laos west of the Mekong (A Mekong Promenade - Part 5: Xayaboury, Laos west of the Mekong)
Fifth B (5B) part: Pak Lai stopover (A Mekong Promenade - Part 5b: Pak Lai stopover)
Sixth (6th) part: Chiang Khong (A Mekong Promenade - Part 6 : Chiang Khong)
Seventh (7th) part: Along the Golden Triangle (A Mekong Promenade - Part 7: Along the Golden Triangle)


A popular Mekong cruise: Houei Xai to Luang Prabang (23.02.2013 and 22.02.2014)
A popular Mekong cruise: Houai Xai to Luang Prabang

Through the Xayaboury dam: Luang Prabang to Pak Lai (25.02.2014 and 23.05.2014) (this text)
Through the Xayaboury dam: Luang Prabang to Pak Lai


Revisiting Henri Mouhot’s shrine, near Luang Prabang
Revisiting Henri Mouhot’s shrine, near Luang Prabang



THE EARLY MEKONG EXPLORERS ON GTR
The early Mekong explorers on GTR


GTR 2013 Mekong Boat Trip Houei Xai - Luang Prabang a bit more.
GTR 2013 Mekong Boat Trip Houei Xai - Luang Prabang a bit more.

Early Mekong Boat Trip
Early Mekong Boat Trip

The Mekong Boat Lost Rider Trip
The Mekong Boat Lost Rider Trip

Losing my Laos Cherry...
Losing my Laos Cherry...

Laos Expedition 2004
Laos Expedition 2004

Epic Awesomness! Cruising the Mekong with the GT-Riders!
Epic Awesomness! Cruising the Mekong with the GT-Riders!

GT-Rider Mekong Cruise Part III
GT-Rider Mekong Cruise Part III

Epic Awesomness! Cruising the Mekong with the GT-Riders!
Epic Awesomness! Cruising the Mekong with the GT-Riders!

A Mekong Meander - A Savannakhet Visa Run & Return
A Mekong Meander - A Savannakhet Visa Run & Return

GT-Riders pass through the controversial Xayaburi Dam site.
GT-Riders pass through the controversial Xayaburi Dam site.

North Of The Golden Triangle - Following The Mekong From Huay Xai To Xieng Kok
North Of The Golden Triangle - Following The Mekong From Huay Xai To Xieng Kok

Chiang Kok and the Lao Myanmar Bridge
Chiang Kok and the Lao Myanmar Bridge



5 Destinations


Vientiane
Vang Vieng:
Luang Prabang
Phonsavan / Plain of Jars:
Xam Nuea / Vieng Xai:
Nong Khiew (Nong Khiau) / Muang Ngoi
Oudom Xai
Pak Beng
Luang Namtha
Muang Sing
Muang Khua
Phongsali
Thakhek
Savannakhet
Kong Lo caves
Pakxe
Champasak / Wat Phou
Don Khong (Four Thousand Islands)
Khone Phapheng (Mekhong waterfalls)
Bolevan waterfalls (Tad Fane, Tadlo)
Attapeu

Vientiane:

An Easy Road to Laos - 4. Back to Nong Khai

Vang Vieng:

Vang Vieng News Article - Tubing destorying the town
An Easy Road to Laos - 4. Back to Nong Khai


Luang Prabang:

The Luang Prabang Loop
Northeast Laos - 1. Luang Prabang and Mountain Roads
An Easy Road to Laos - 2 The Road to Luang Prabang
Xmas in Laos
The Luang Prabang Loop

Phonsavan / Plain of Jars:

Northeast Laos – 4 Hintang and the Jars
Northeast Laos - 3. Epilogue (Sam Nuea, Phonsavan)

Xam Nuea / Vieng Xai:

Northeast Laos - 3. Epilogue (Sam Nuea, Phonsavan)
Northeast Laos - 2. Sam Nuea and a Winding Drive Back

Nong Khiew (Nong Khiau) / Muang Ngoi:

Northeast Laos - 2. Sam Nuea and a Winding Drive Back
Royal Enfield Roadrunners through Laos Thailand
An Easy Road to Laos - 2 The Road to Luang Prabang

Oudom Xai:

An Easy Road to Laos - 2 The Road to Luang Prabang

Pak Beng:

An Easy Road to Laos - 2 The Road to Luang Prabang

Luang Namtha:

The Luang Prabang Loop
Chiang Mai – Xam Nua Return
A Short Loop to Norwest Laos
Muang Sing (or Bust). Riding In N.laos For The Boun That Xieng Teung Festival

Muang Sing:

A Short Loop to Norwest Laos
The Luang Prabang Loop
Muang Sing (or Bust). Riding In N.laos For The Boun That Xieng Teung Festival

Muang Khua:

Information needed


Phongsali:

Information needed

Thakhek:

South Laos - 3 Central Laos

Savannakhet:

South Laos - 3 Central Laos
Vientiane - Route 13 South - Savannakhet
A Mekong Meander - A Savannakhet Visa Run & Return

Kong Lo caves:

South Laos - 3 Central Laos

Pakxe:

South Laos - 2 Around the Bolevan
Chiang Mai – Attapeu Via Siphandon (Mekong 4000 Islands) Return
Southern Laos 10 days with the GF – “Madam Champa.”

Champasak / Wat Phou:

South Laos - 1 Ferry Tales
Chiang Mai – Attapeu Via Siphandon (Mekong 4000 Islands) Return
Southern Laos 10 days with the GF – “Madam Champa.”

Don Khong (Four Thousand Islands):

Chiang Mai – Attapeu Via Siphandon (Mekong 4000 Islands) Return
Route13 South Vientiane - Don Khong
South Laos - 1 Ferry Tales
Chiang Mai – Attapeu Via Siphandon (Mekong 4000 Islands) Return
Southern Laos 10 days with the GF – “Madam Champa.”

Khone Phapheng (Mekhong waterfalls):

South Laos - 1 Ferry Tales
Chiang Mai – Attapeu Via Siphandon (Mekong 4000 Islands) Return
Southern Laos 10 days with the GF – “Madam Champa.”

Bolevan waterfalls (Tad Fane, Tadlo):

South Laos - 2 Around the Bolevan
Chiang Mai – Attapeu Via Siphandon (Mekong 4000 Islands) Return
Southern Laos 10 days with the GF – “Madam Champa.”

Attapeu:
Chiang Mai – Attapeu Via Siphandon (Mekong 4000 Islands) Return
Photos, Nov 05, 8 day ride N. West Loop
South Laos - 2 Around the Bolevan

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6. Entry points to Laos


General information

Thailand / Laos Border Notes
Laos / China Border Notes
S.E.Asia Border Crossings
Entering Laos - Some History
Laos Border Crossings

Crossing Friendship bridges (prohibited in the direction Thailand to Laos):

Thai registered motorcycles are (usually) not allowed to cross Friendship bridges in the direction from Thailand toward Laos. The return journeys to Thailand are allowed. There are now 3 bridges over the Mekong and one in Nam Heug (Thali/Loei)

Thailand / Laos Border Notes
Laos Friendship Bridge No Entry
NEW BRIDGE CROSSING IN LOEI

Chiang Khong / Huay Xai

A meander through the North Dec 2011
A Short Loop to Norwest Laos
The Luang Prabang Loop

The fourth Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge, is under construction and will span the Mekong before Chiang Khong.

Huay Kon / Muang Ngeun

This is a land border crossing (an inland Mekong ferry cruises further down the road, near Pak Beng)

Northeast Laos - 1. Luang Prabang and Mountain Roads
An easy road to Laos: 1- crossing the border
Xmas in Laos

Thali / Namheung (Friendship Bridge over Hua river)

This crossing connects to Luang Prabang on a dirt road

Information needed

Nong Khai / Vientiane (First Thai–Lao Friendship Bridge)

“Saphan Mittaphap”, the first “Friendship Bridge, spans the Mekong from Than Na Leng to Nong Khai. For thai registered bikes, it can only be used to drive back, as (usually) the entry toward Laos is prohibited. For this reason it is often used as an ending point after a North or South loop.

Bun Kan / Pakxan

The new Pakxan – Bueng Kan bridge

Nakhon Phanom / Khammuan (Thakaek) (The third Thai-Lao bridge)

This bridge was inaugurated on 11th November 2011

A Mekong Meander - A Savannakhet Visa Run & Return

Mukdahan / Savannakhet (Second Thai–Lao Friendship Bridge)

A Mekong Meander - A Savannakhet Visa Run & Return

Chong Mek / Vang Tao (Pakse)

Land crossing. An inland bridge crosses the Mekong in Pakse.

How I cross the border in Chong Mek.
South Laos - 1 Ferry Tales

Veun Kham (Cambodia)

Information needed

Laos - Cambodia border crossing informaton needed
Stung Treng-Veun Kham border crossing

Border crossings to Vietnam

Na Meo (route 6 to Hanoi)

**update** Na Meo Border Crossing

NK7_2791.jpg



7. Practicalities


Laos GPS tracks

Global access
Laos GPS Tracks

South Laos
Laos Southern GPS Tracks

North Laos
Laos Northern GPS Tracks

Other Laos tracks
Laos Other GPS Tracks

Lodging and eating

Accomodations

Accommodation - Laos

Restaurants

Restaurants - Laos

Motorcycle and various

Other: Laos



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8. Information resources


Websites

Laos in general :


Laos - Wikipedia
Economy of Laos - Wikipedia
U.S. Relations With Laos - United States Department of State
East Asia/Southeast Asia :: Laos — The World Factbook - Central Intelligence Agency
Laos profile
About this Collection | Country Studies | Digital Collections | Library of Congress
About this Collection | Country Studies | Digital Collections | Library of Congress

i finally found this one from Biologic.
Laoconnection.com


Travel guides :


Laos travel
Laos travel guide & advice for your next visit
Laos 2019: Best of Laos Tourism - TripAdvisor
Laos - Wikitravel
Tourism in Laos - Wikipedia
Welcome to Muonglao.com - Promoting the Country of Laos, Lao Culture, Lao Business and Technology
Laos Travel Information - Tips, advice, and info on travel in Laos - Laos Travel
i finally found this one from Biologic.
l a o * m i a o *


Lao Tourims organisations :


http://www.tourismlaos.org/web/index.php
Laos - What you need to know before you go
http://www.laotourism.org/khammouane.htm
Tourism in Laos - Wikipedia

Destinations :

Luang Prabang - Wikitravel
Vang Vieng - Wikipedia
Plain of Jars - Wikipedia

Maps :

Latest edition GT-Rider Laos
The Laos Guide Map by GT Rider


‬‏‏

News/ newspapers :

.::vientianetimes::.


Routes :

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Route_13_(Laos)
Laos - Roads
http://www.discoveryindochina.com/laos/laos_travel_distance.html
Laos-Roads
Laos Driving Distance Calculator, Driving Directions, Distance Between Cities, Distance Chart


History and Wars in Laos :

French protectorate of Laos - Wikipedia
Laotian Civil War - Wikipedia

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