Central Laos, Thakhek to Vientiane
Many travelers give central Laos a miss. It's understandable but not completely fair. There are a few things worth to visit. And when you are cycling in Laos from north to south or the other way around, it's good to give these places a short visit.
From Thakhek to Vientiane is a few days cycling. You can do it in as many as you want as there are about every 50km or so guesthouses.
Thakhek to Namthone
There's not a lot of interesting things on this road to show. It's a road that keeps going up and down, never high, never steep but never stops too.
Namthone has a basic guesthouse (cold water only) but it's an OK overnight stay about 100 km from Thakhek.
Pakxan could be your next stop. It's again around 100km and easier then the Thakhek-Namthone part. You will pass Pakkading, where, should you desire, you can stop. There's some nice climbs in the surrounding hills to make with good views over the Mekong which is here very nearby.
Pakxan is the next stop. Here are several guesthouses but you may even want to try out the Pakxan Hotel at NR 13 which has standard rooms for 40.000 Kip (cold water though). The best restaurant is to be found at the riverside although the mosquitoes are a bit irritating.
Ban Thabok and the Phou Khao Khouay
Ban Thabok may at first glance not too much of interest. However, it can be a good base to explore the mountain to the north. Phou Khao Khouay is a Nature Reserve. The Reserve covers three provinces. Phou Khao Khouay is stretching over about 80 kilometers from west to east and up to 40 kilometers from north to south. The area covers about 2000 square kilometers. The highest mountain peak is 1671 meters high.
Unfortunately the mountains have been heavily logged but there's still a lot to explore. The park is a great place to spot wild elephants. There's two different groups living in the park which apparently do not mingle or interbreed. The park is also well known for birds and butterflies.
To get in the park you need a guide. Booking guides can be arranged in Vientiane. Accommodation will be arranged through the agencies in the local villages. There's no descent roads to cycle in the park.
There's a guesthouse in Thabok and many restaurants.
The road to Vientiane
The continuing 65 km to Vientiane are mostly on flat and increasingly busier roads though never crazy busy until you reach Vientiane. On the way there's little of interest. 20 km before Vientiane you can see the graveyard for the victims of the revolution.
I made a stop in one of the temples on the road, which was probably one of the nicest things to see on this part of the journey.
If you stayed in Thabok, you may want immediately visit the Buddha park but I would recommend to do this on a separate day. It's still quite a few kilometers from Vientiane.
Entry to Vientiane is quite interesting. There are two ways, one passes the Buddha park, the other follows the main road and passes the Graveyard for the victims of the Revolution, the official cemetery for the fallen warriors of the Communist Revolution and worth a quick look.
Accommodation in Vientiane
The capital of the country is a bit more expensive than the rest of Laos but you can still find good and cheap hotels and guests houses:
Other pages about Laos:
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Map of Laos