Cycling Laos - "Journey Back in Time"
Cycling in Northwest Laos is a one of a kind adventure.....mystical moutains, the majestic Mekong River, saffron robed monks collecting alms, working elephants. It's what most of Southeast Asia used to be like, but no longer is. It's 6 million people are very friendly, welcoming and curious. The Northern part of the country is mountainous and lush with spectacular scenery.
This tour is NOT for everyone. There is plenty of climbing on the Lao tour so you should take a close look at the elevation profiles. Additionally, the accommodations are basic in some spots (shower out of a bucket). For one night, we also plan a homestay. You need to be the type of person who likes an adventure.
Day 1 Chaing Rai
Meet up in Chiang Rai in Northern Thailand. Chiang Rai is a hub of adventure travel in Northern Thailand. We get our bikes together here and check out the Wats, the Museum and the Thai music scene. It is also a really good place for a Thai massage.
We take a transfer to Chaing Saen near the Golden Triangle and then have a pleasant ride along a back road with little traffic past several Wats and the Thai-Lao overlook. The ride generally follows the Mekong River all the way to Chaing Khong.
After crossing the Mekong and checking through the border station, we take a boat journey down the Mekong River to Pak Beng. The Mekong is a huge, impressive serpent of a river and many of the places we pass are accessible only by boat.
This is the backcountry of Laos. We start off on road which ends when it hits the Mekong at Pak Beng. We pass lots of small, remote villages where the kids run to the road to yell "Sabaidee" to every passing cyclist. We overnight in Ban Faen (where you have option of guesthouse or homestay). We are treated like royalty here. 70k - Rated 1.6
Continue on Oudom Xay passing through a bunch of hill villages that still retain their age-old cultural traditions. Not much has changed in some of these places for a long time....and we always attract a crowd. 115k - Rated 3.0
A tough climbing day at the start and then rolling hills with magnificent scenery before a 29 k Descent to Pak Mong. 81k - Rated 3.2
On to the historic and enchanting city of Luang Prabang. We having the option of stopping and l visiting the Buddhas in the holy caves of Pak Ou.
Day 8 Rest day in Luang Prabang
Rest day in beautiful Luang Prabang encircled by mountains and situated on the banks of the Mekong where it meets the Nam Khan river. There is a lot to see in this World Heritage Town: Temples, Monastaries, the Royal Palace and French Colonial Architecture as well as the beautiful falls outside of town. It’s worthwhile to get up and observe the monks collecting alms at 6 am.
This section has some of the most spectacular limestone, karst mountains in all of Southeast Asia. We ovenight in Kiu Kacham. This is long challanging ride between Luang Prabang and Kasi. Kiewchachan is the half way point and good place to break up the ride. 79k - Rated 3.7
We have a spectacular 38 km descent passing dramatic views of craggy limestone mountains. The scent of jasmine and lotus blossom drifts through the clear air from the rich jungle flora. We end our day coming off the mountains at Kasi. 91k - Rated 3.0
60 km of gentle rolling hills to Vang Vieng. Vang Vieng is situated on a bend of the Nam Song River and at sunset it is beautiful. Lots of action in Vang Vieng. It’s a cross roads for travelers and, unlike some other villages, you will run into some here. All the travelers means that there are lots of restaurants and comfortable guesthouses. Check out the market here. It’s very much worth seeing. 64k - Rated 1.4
After a relatively gentle 24 km we reach the fishing village of Tha Heua where you can see all manner of salted fish being sold by the road. Here you have the option of taking a 3 hour boat journey on the Ang Nam Ngum reservoir to Na Nam a small fishing village passing many picturesque islands dotted along the way. Alternatively you can cycle the moderate 84 km along the road, to the village of Thalat not far from Lake Na Nam. 99k - Rated 2.0
Our last day of cycling starts with last two short but hard climbs, before the road levels out for the 95 km all the way to Vientiane. Here the land is agricultural passing paddy fields and more intensely farmed areas. As we near the Lao capital of Vientiane the roads, which till now have been relatively traffic free throughout our trip, start to become busier. We arrive at our guesthouse in the afternoon. 98k - Rated 1.6
Day 14 Rest Day - Vientiane
A final day in Vientiane to see the sites, pack the bikes, do any last minute shopping, then relax and celebrate the end of a great trip. From here can fly to Bangkok in Thailand or other SE Asia destinations.