Cycling northern Laos, Phu Khun – Vientiane via Ang Nam Gnum

Phu Khun alt. 1350, Vientiane alt. 175, distance 310 kms, via rt 13 and from Phonghong via rt 10. Vertical meters 320. We did it in 7 stages.
From Phonsavan we took a bus back to Phu Khun on Nov. 17. We were impressed about the route and to realise that we had cycled it in the opposite direction. So mountainous and beautiful. We also noticed that the winding and turning of the bus made us feel uncomfortable, and this was not the case when we were on our bicycles.
Day 1:A very short day, 25 kms. From Phu Khun follows a deep downhill of a good 20 kms, then a very steep uphill of 1 km. There is Bar Num Oon ; 5 tiny wooden bungalows, 2 restaurants and a hot spring. We arrived there at 13.00 and stayed there. Hot bathing, washed some clothes. Wonderful view on the Karst mountains as well.
Day 2: To Vang Vieng, alt. 238, vertical meters 435, dist. 80 kms. We found a nice bamboo bungalow at the riverside in the south end of the village. Forgot the name, but down a dirt track just behind Le Jardin Organique. We spent some days in this backpackers paradise. All facilities are here, ATM, many restaurants and guesthouses, plenty of internet cafes, tv-soaps all around, tubing and rafting on the river etc.
Day 3: To Pale 2 guesthouse, at milestone 87, just south of Hin Heup on rt 13. Alt 215, 408 vert. meters, 77 kms. Nice stone bungalows, basic restaurant. But the guesthouse seemed to be specially dedicated to very short use by couples. As it appeared many other guesthouses along the road are.

Day 3: To Longngum View Resort, overlooking Ang Nam Ngum, the reservoir for the hydro-electric powerplant there. Alt. 309, vert. meters 229, dist. 38 kms. Wonderfull view on the lake, wonderful bungalow. Lousy restaurant and similar staff. So we decided not to stay an extra day.

Day 4: Via a visit to Lao Zoo to Manianphone guesthouse on rt. 10 to Vientiane. A steep decent in the beginning, later some short but steep climbs, no exact figures, dist. 38 kms. Again nice and complete bungalows in a garden with no restaurant. And short staying neighbours. Friendly staff. They sold instant noodles, so we could make noodle soup with the water cooker in the bungalow.

Day 5: 60 kms to Vientiane (alt. 175). We reached the city early and found good accommodation in Souphaphone guesthouse. 25 USD, very expensive compared to our other stays. Nice relaxed place with many wats, shops, bars, restaurants and great terraces on the Mekong river banks.

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