|Monk and Temple, Luang Prabang, Laos. Taken with Panasonic LX7.|
I've just returned from a 10 day bike tour with a group of friends that started in northern Vietnam, crossed over into northern Laos and circled over to the mysterious Plain of Jars in Phonsavan before ending in Luang Prabang. We had a sag wagon with us, so if we felt the day's riding was too ambitious, we could hop in the sag wagon and call it a day.
Laos turned out to be pretty wild place, but that is rapidly changing. The road is now mostly paved, where a few years ago, it was mostly dirt. This bike tour could have ideally been done on our Surly Long Haul Truckers, but we sold those, and were only left with our full-suspension Giant Anthem mountain bikes to do the tour with. Fortunately, the tough little Anthems were up to the job.
I'd heard talk about bandits in remote parts of Laos, but I couldn't have felt safer, even when I ran into the guy brandishing an AK47 on the road (see the video below). It is a remarkable country where the road is seldom level, and seems to go only up or down.
Biking Vietnam - Laos 2013
from Adventure Nomad
If you are planning a bike tour out there, consider the elevation changes, and without a sag wagon, I'd be a bit more conservative with the distance you plan to ride each day. I downloaded Google Maps onto Gaia GPS on my iPhone and used that for Navigation, and I found that to be immensely useful.
Luang Prabang turned out to be very picturesque, and very tourist friendly. Not surprising then that its full of tourists. Still, it's not too bad. Prices for food and lodging are reasonable and locals seem to tolerate the tourists. You just need to make reservations early for the popular hotels and restaurants. I'd go back in a heartbeat.
In terms of camera gear, I brought my GoPro HD2, Pansonic Lumix LX7, a Gorillapod Hybrid and pole for the GoPro. I brought one spare battery each and was able to recharge each night. I also carried a large capacity battery that I could charge USB devices, like my iPhone and GoPro off. I'm quite happy with this setup, and this could form my ultralightweight kit for video and stills.