We love Laos. This is where we met way back in 1996 and the country will always hold a special place in our hearts.
Much has changed since we backpacked there in the mid-90’s. Back then there was no tourist trail. A few backpacker friendly guesthouses were popping up in Luang Prabang but that was pretty much the extent of the tourist scene.
Boy, have things changed. Even the tiniest off-the-beaten-track town now has a guesthouse. Menus are in English, Wifi is on offer all over the place and in some spots (Pak Beng , for example) foreigners seem to outnumber the locals.
Luckily the locals have taken all the outside influences in stride. They are just as friendly and welcoming as we recall from our first trip almost two decades back.
This was our second cycling trip to Laos, but still we could have easily lingered for weeks exploring some of the lesser-known roads. But with summer winding down, our thoughts turned to the Tibetan plateau.
In Kuala Lumpur we’d managed to finagle 90-day visas for China. This is exceptionally good. Some travelers are flat out denied visas for China and often all the authorities authorize is a month’s visit.
Although Tibet is currently off-limits to those without a state-authorized guide, we can cycle the neighboring regions which are still part of the Tibetan plateau.
And that’s why we whizzed through Laos. We don’t fancy fighting a blizzard at 4,000 meters in mid-November.
We actually crossed into China almost a week ago and are making our way through Yunnan province heading to Sichuan and Qinghai.
Here are a few images from our time in Laos. More from China (which we love) later.