I cycle a lot around LP and there is no need to have a guided tour. Just buy a good map (suggest Hobo Maps LP Area Map which specializes in cycling info) and go. Most routes are simple and nearly impossible to get lost. I like the trips out to waterfalls and that map has 3 of them detailed. If you take a guide they always try to rush you back to town but if you go alone you can relax and enjoy. The trip south to Kuang Si falls is very nice and it takes about 3.5 hours one way. There are tourist songtaew buses there eager to haul you back to town if your legs are tired. If I'm feeling lazy I hire a songtaew bus from town to take me and my bike to the peak area on Hwy 13 south of town and start the trip to Tad Sae falls with a fantastic long downhill glide. The closest waterfalls is Tad Thong only about 1 hour south of town and this is a very quiet area, you may be the only tourist there. You can see these places on the web at hobomaps.com.
#2 LaoNow has been a member since 14/5/2010. Posts: 38
For an easy 1 day trip you could cross over to the Chompet District side of the river. You can go with Tiger Trails or there's a tour office on the other side of the river where you can rent bikes and get a guide. Chompet is quieter, more authentic village life compared to Luang Prabang. There's some small temples and other sites you can visit too.
If you want to go solo to save money, lots of places rent bikes and sell maps. I second what LaoNow said - Hobo Maps are GREAT!
You don't really need to rent a high quality mountain bike to get around outside LP, I like to rent the Asama peddle bikes from the shop beside Luang Say Cruise office and they also sometimes have Hobo Maps for sale, as do the 2 bookshops in LP, Monument and L'etranger. These Asama bikes are single gear jobs but somehow do a better job at both ends of the peddling spectrum. I enjoy getting off and walking my bike up the steepest hills. Remember to guard against bag theft and bike theft in LP as in Vientiane. I agree Chomphet is a nice option.
#6 LaoNow has been a member since 14/5/2010. Posts: 38
if planning to go really deep into the riverside part of Chomphet to look for temples, perhaps better to just walk?
upriver from the temple with the cave (IO209 on this map), the further i went, the more the tracks there (at least those closet to the Mekong) didn't seem suitable for cycling. oft wide enough for only one person to pass at a time, with fence ladders to climb over, & also gullies (would be very muddy in wet season). it's a place in LPB where the presence of tourists still astonishes locals :P