The Big Ride

Laos – Lazy river riding…

Mekong cruise, Luang Prabang, Kuang Si Waterfall, quiet roads, beautiful scenery & swapping boats for bikes
Not much food available, expensive, very hilly, lots of backpackers (somewhat nice)
Things we are loving
Mango smoothies, French bread,


Crossing from Thailand into Laos was another one of those drastic changes from one country to the next that we had experienced a few times in Asia. Development is definitely lagging in Laos and having come from Thailand where we had a brief taste of the west; the contrast was stark.

The broader crossing itself was a pain because of the forced lift in a pickup truck across the friendship bridge (I’m beginning to believe that it is some sort of international law that if a border crossing is made over a bridge, the bridge must be called ‘Friendship Bridge’) but getting a visa was a short and easy affair. Arrive with a passport sized photo and some crisp unmarked American dollars, and you’ve got yourself a 30 day visa. Costs vary greatly between countries, for reasons that only a Laotian communist politician understands, coming across a list of these fees is pretty difficult as well. So read up to find out what others have paid. (UK & Netherlands $30)


After crossing the border we made our way to the small border town of Huay Xai. The town itself is pretty un-spectacular, it has a several overpriced guest houses and restaurants; but it is firmly rooted in the backpacker circuit because it is the setting off point for many taking cruises down the Mekong. Which after some deliberation we had decided we would be part of. The terrain, road quality, infrequent locations for supplies and the heat had convinced us to get off the bikes and trade them in for a boat.

We immediately noticed prices from across the border had increased, not just because we were in a touristy area, but it seemed that the cost of everything was just higher. A phenomenon we had experienced when going from countries with large economies to smaller neighbouring countries like India and Nepal. In many ways we felt that we were back in Nepal while in Laos.

One Comment

Fred Spengler

Interesting comments …… but true.

We went there in 09 and thought much the same.
We bought the portable bamboo rice containers and would regularly get less rice at an inflated price. Small thing but we just wanted the container filled to feed us through the day.
Monks in LP asking us for money while they played on their phones
Many people thought the place heavenly.
Hey the kiddies were lovely but after we had a knife pulled on us near Savannahket looked at it just like any poor country.
Scenery is OK.
Looking forward to your China piece.


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