Bicycle Touring Laos

Bicycle Touring SE Asia – Days 5-7

Southeast Asia Bicycle Tour – Day 5

Lak Sao, Laos to Thalang, Laos – 32 Miles

I’m in Laos. I’m on the other side of the world riding my bicycle. Everyone I know and love is over 8,000 miles away. Most of the time it gives me a thrill to focus on this. Other times, I’m overwhelmed with loneliness.

It had been five days since I left Hanoi and I hadn’t seen another tourist since. I also haven’t encountered anyone who speaks English. Then, about 10 miles South of Lak Sao I spotted other Westerners. They had pulled their moped to the side of the road to photograph the eye-popping scenery.

Desperate for conversation I did the same. I couldn’t wait to see what the couple was doing in the middle of nowhere.

It turns out there is something known as the Laos Loop. It’s a roughly 500 km motorbike loop, and it’s a “must do” when traveling in Laos. The couple on the side of the road would be the first of many tourists I would encounter over the next couple days.

I finished the day early and checked into a bungalow in the lake town of Thalang, Laos. I spent the afternoon eating, catching up on bike maintenance, and doing much-needed laundry in the bathroom sink.

Southeast Asia Bicycle Tour – Day 6

Thalang, Laos to Thakhek, Laos – 63 Miles

The morning started with me watching a beautiful sunrise over the lake. Then I packed my things and was off. After about an hour on my bicycle, I decided I had better eat if I saw an opportunity. It was going to be a long day and I wasn’t sure what would be available.

Bike and Buddist Carving

Roadside in Laos

In the countryside of Laos, you won’t find typical restaurants. Instead, there are tin roof shacks scattered along the main roads. At times it can be difficult distinguishing a place selling food from someones home. Condiments on the table was a reliable sign, but as I found out, that’s not always the case.

I eventually found a place to eat. The woman running the restaurant was so nice and had the most caring smile. There was no way I would be leaving hungry. Not on her watch.

After breakfast, I was back on the road and continued my bicycle tour of Laos. The day was scorching and the closer I got to Thakhek the busier the road became. I was dripping in sweat and choking on diesel fumes by the time I reached the popular tourist town.

I found a nice room only a block from the Mekong River. It had a “real” restaurant, and throughout the evening, I managed to eat three entrees. Life was good.

Southeast Asia Bicycle Tour – Day 7

Thakhek, Laos to Savannakhet, Laos – 71 Miles

Each morning I plan my route using the maps.me app on my phone. It’s similar to Google Maps, but everything is pre-download and doesn’t require a data connection. It gives you the option to search based on driving, cycling, or walking. Feeling confident in myself and my bike, I chose a walking route for the day.

The first half of the day took me along empty back roads. It was a welcome change from the day before. Then early in the afternoon, it had me turn down a washed out single-track trail. I double checked the app and took off down the path. Hours passed without seeing anyone. I was a little nervous, but I charged forward. Late in the day, I reached the town of Savannakhet, Laos. Once again I found a room along the Mekong.

My first week of bicycle touring Southeast Asia was complete. I still had a long way to go, but I had found my groove.

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