Route 13 is the only North-South road in Laos. It connects Vientiane with the China crossing at Boten-Mohan, and on to Kunming in Yunnan Province.
From Luang Prabang to Oudomxay is a distance of 230 km, and the last 160 km is a sealed mountain road which has been mercilessly carved up by heavy vehicles, leaving a slashed mess of broken surface and unavoidable, road-wide stretches of pot-holes. At one small village bridge approach a truck had actually sunk into the middle of the road, tilting precariously and blocking any large north-south traffic.
Our vintage cars handled it with aplomb, weaving and climbing in and out of the battle zone road, almost always in second gear, with only the occasional unavoidable bounce. We were thankful for the light traffic often enabling use of the full width of the “road”. Somehow Lonely Planet has excluded it from its “most extreme road trips”. We will inform them.