We got a 30-day visa at the border, in Houayxai. 30$ for French people, 35$ for Belgians.
1 euro = 11.000 kips
1 baht = 245 kips
There are now cash machines in Houayxai, Louang Prabang, Vang Vieng and Vientiane. There was none when we were there in 2005 so we withdraw all our money in Thailand. Some people said they got charged, others said they were not (on top of their own bank charges).
Road & Sleeping
Pakbeng – Oudomxai (147 km)
The road goes up and down with a tendency to go up for the first 30 km. The road follows a river and then passes between rice fields and villages. It is possible to eat in Muang Houn and Muang Beng, small restaurants sell noodle soups. The guesthouse of Muang Beng doubles up as a restaurant. Water is relatively easy to find in the villages (bottles or you can filter or use Micropur).
Bateau Houayxai – Pakbeng: 110.000 kips/person, 35.000 kips/bicycle.
Pakbeng: Sarika guesthouse. Modern and clean but no hot water. 50.000 kips for a double room with bathroom.
Muang Houn: two guesthouses.
Muang Beng (Bengkham): one guesthouse, at the end of the village. 40.000 kips for two.
Oudomxai: Vilavong guesthouse. New, the owner is very friendly and there is hot water. 50.000 kips for a double room with bathroom.
Oudomxai – Pakmong (83 km)
Quite tough. Take food and water (sticky rice and bananas did a great job for us).
Pakmong: guesthouse at the end of the village on the road to Louang Prabang. 40.000 kips for a double room with bathroom.
Namthouam: one guesthouse. 12 km after Pakmong, on the road to Louang Prabang.
Pakmong – Louang Prabang (112 km)
The road goes up and down but the slopes are never more than 1 or 2 km. Noodle soup shop 75 km from Pakmong and a restaurant on the bank of the river Nam Ou about 80 km from Pakmong.
Travels by bicycle: Robert Jan Lassche
Robert, a friendly Dutch cyclist, has been running cycling tours in Lao and neighbouring countries for a few years.
Louang Prabang: prices have tripled since we came in 2005! Soutikone guesthouse (go past Heritage House towards the Mekong, turn left and then right, just before an Indian restaurant), 100.000 kips for a double room with bathroom (70.000 kips for a shared bathroom). We bargained it down the next day for 85.000 kips. Further from the centre, prices drop to 70.000 kips for a room with bathroom, 50.000 for a shared bathroom.
Louang Prabang – Kiewkachan (80 km)
The pass of the second slope is not where it seems to be. It goes up for another 3 km after the electric post, until the village of Kiewkachan. It is possible to buy food and water just before the second slope, 56 km from Louang Prabang.
Kiewkachan: 2 guesthouses side by side, 40.000 kips for a double room. Shared bathroom with a bucket of hot water.
Kiewkachan - Bor Nam Oon (75 km)
The road is easier than the day before but it still goes up and down a lot. Lunch in Phoukhoun.
Bor Nam Oon: hot springs. Bor Nam Oon resort, 50.000 kips for a bungalow. This place is so peaceful we spent two nights there. Only cyclists seem to stay there.
Kasi: some guesthouses but more expensive we heard.
Bor Nam Oon – Vang Vieng (81 km)
Some slopes but never for more than 2 km. About 30 km before Vang Vieng, the road goes between rocky peaks, great pictures to take. We had lunch 20 km before Vang Vieng. You can also eat in Kasi (if starting from Vang Vieng).
Vang Vieng: Bantoung Amicable guesthouse, 50.000 kips for a double room with bathroom. On the main road, just after the temple, on the right. On the other side of the free, there are some peaceful bungalows, away from the crowds.
Vang Vieng – Vientiane (160 km)
The road goes up and down for about 40 km after Tha Heua and then it is nearly flat, at last! 20 km before Vang Vieng and up to Tha Heua, the road is an awful state: holes, no tarmac, fresh tarmac all over the road. Apparently, this section is always in a dreadful state. After Tha Heua, the condition of the road is excellent, there is even space on the side to cycle.
Tha Heua: guesthouse on the side of the lake just after the fish market. 50.000 kips for a double room with bathroom.