Should I try to get maps before the trip or are there maps in the guest house and travel agencies in Laos towns ?
(Also Thialnad if you know )
#1 itayze has been a member since 2/8/2010. Posts: 14
This is probably as good as you're going to get.
Just print one off.
GT Rider also has a map that's sold in most towns snd is ok.
Not a lot of good maps on Laos but then not much of a demand either, Vang Vien and Luang Prabang are above Vientiane and 4000 Islands is way below is about all the info most need.
More detailed of each town listing every banana panckake here.
This web site itself has most of what you'd need for maps except where they link to google. Google maps have all kinds of highways that have never been and never will be shooting in straight lines up the sides of mountains and off into nowhere.
There are a couple of real maps good at showing small towns and elevation shading but roads can be suspect. I have one by a Canadian company and I saw an even better one in an online photo, names escape me.
I suggest you get one before you go. We were in the south of Laos this april and wanted a map for doing a motortour. We couldn't find any map in the shops or at the tourist office.
Thailand is no problem.
#3 tinoh has been a member since 13/2/2010. Posts: 40
@somsai No idea why Googlebeast has the fictional roads on it. Weird --- perhaps projected future roads?
#6 somtam2000 has been a member since 21/1/2004. Location: Indonesia. Posts: 7,651
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Thats what I was thinking too, but then it doubles back on itself and parralels a perfectly good road that has been there for decades and is the logical place to build, shoots on up over the top of highest peak around. Route 3 out of Muant Sing. Maybe district boundry.
I've looked at Vientiane and Pakse Google maps, might well be most usefull up to date available.
Maybe google makes automatic assumptions from all info sources available and somewhere electrons got crossed.
Somsai/Somtam, I have come across this too. The other thing I have found is that some roads are shown as paved roads and in fact are little more than bush tracks. A few people I know have been caught out this way.
The Vientiane Public Library on Lane Xang Avenue (going away from the river, on the left a bit before Patuxay (Lao Arc de Triomphe) sells quite good provincial maps with roads, a map of the whole country with the main roads and maps of all the major towns for 5,000 kip (about $0.61) a piece. However, they don't speak any English, well didn't when I went there. But if you ask for "pen tee", which is map in Lao, and name the province etc I'm sure you can work it out with them!
The maps of the towns aren't as good as the Hobo maps which are very good and sometimes quite funny. There are such locations as "Big Blue Building" and "The Ugliest Building in the World" etc if you look closely!
Very popular with the serious Laos motorbike crowd is the Gecko map also found at Monument books. But it paints a sometimes unrealistic picture, making Laos backroads look like dreamy Swiss byways. Pretty much every biker seems to have this for detail plus the GT Rider map for reality-check. The GTR map is made by David Unkovich Inc. who's team rides absolutely everywhere equipped with GPS and are pretty up to date (just make sure you have the latest edition as the upgrades are pretty significant and I've definitely seen the older editions still on shelves).
Gecko Map http://www.flickr.com/photos/captain-bob/4870650401
GTRider Map http://www.flickr.com/photos/captain-bob/4871259074
As mentioned above, you can buy Hobo maps of Vientiane , Nong Khai, Luang Prabang and maybe a few others in Vientiane. They're on the shelf next to the checkout in Phimphone Supermarket on Setthathirath Road opposite the restaurant Kop Chai Der next to the Nam Phou fountain. The Vientiane one is 16,000 kip (about US$2)and I presume the others are the same price but not sure.
My Gt Rider is from 2005 , bummer - how old is it ? .
maybe i'll get another one in lao - i'll still look for hobomaps .
#19 itayze has been a member since 2/8/2010. Posts: 14
Archmichael, every once in a while I pick up a little gem from reading these pages, your link to Reise Know-How was one of them, I just online ordered from their US distributer.
When I clicked on the zoomable thumbnail they had I zoomed in on the recognisable large resevoir north of the capital, then the famous backpacker haven of Vang Vien, then on the large mountain E of town, contour intervals and shaded relief. on a 1:600,000 map. If things run true to form there are many other features, that make German maps some of the best in the world.
Itaze my GT Rider map is the same age and still works well, maybe not THE most up to date but pretty well so, if anything you will be pleasantly suprised instead of the other way around. Best and most upsdated road info.
Somsai: Glad to be of help. I do think the Reise Know-How maps are very high quality. Besides the Lao map, I also have their maps of Cambodia and Southern Viet Nam. They don't show any banana pancake shops, buy I guess you just can't have everything.