Here's an example of what the Thais call rural road, often a road that doesn't pass through any important economic hub but one that's been built with blessings from the benevolent king and just serves to link small rural hamlets to bigger wider truck pliable roads. This is a road that leads down to Bok Krai waterfalls not far from the Isthmus of Kra. Please note the paint has worn off on most other rural roads so don't expect the same bright lines.
While South Laos certainly boasts better roads and we have travelled along roads with stretches of uninterrupted tar this is an extreme example of what is called a highway here. This is an important link road for traffic plying between the northern provincial town of Phongsali to Oudomxi, an important economic hub of Northern Laos. I must clarify this stretch lasts for only 109 kms starting at Ban Yo till Pak Nam Noi where you will suddenly see the tar from a distance shimmering like a mirage in a desert. From Phongsali to Ban Yo it's a good sealed road and remains so as the road contiues on 20 km to the Chinese border town of Pak Ha (still closed to travellers). But a 90 degree turn southwards to remain in Laos and here's a good ride awaiting. Took us two days and one small fall (me), dust clogged lungs, muck choked chains and rattled bones to finally kiss tar at Pak Nam Noi.