Air:

Lao Airlines (QV) (www.laoairlines.com) runs domestic air services from Vientiane to Houayxai, Luang Namtha, Xieng Khouang, Luang Prabang and Oudomxai in the north and Pakse and Savannakhet in the south. Private charter flights are also available through Lao Westcoast Helicopter (www.laowestcoast.laopdr.com).

Getting Around in Laos

Departure tax:

Usually included in the ticket price.

Road:

Note: If you are on a strict timescale, it is advisable to prearrange travel outside Vientiane with a tour company to avoid unforeseen delays and costs.

Side of road: Right

Road quality:

Many of the roads have been paved in recent years, including the main highway from the Thai border at Savannakhet to the Vietnamese border.

However, few main roads are suitable for all-weather or night driving.

In the north of the country, there is a road link between Vientiane and Luang Prabang, and from Vientiane to Savannakhet and Pakse in the south.

Car hire:

Car hire: It is not recommended to hire cars in Laos as driving standards are low. However, it is possible to hire cars with a driver through hotels or tourist agencies.

Coach:

Documentation:

Documentation: International Driving Permit recommended.

By road note:

Note: If you are on a strict timescale, it is advisable to prearrange travel outside Vientiane with a tour company to avoid unforeseen delays and costs.

Getting around towns and cities:

All major towns are small and accessible on foot or by bicycle. Motorcycles and bicycles can be hired for the day in Vientiane, Luang Prabang and other places frequented by tourists. There is a mixture of old and metered taxis in Vientiane that can usually be located at Wattay Airport, the Friendship Bridge and the Morning market. Taxis can also be hired for approximately US$20 per day. Converted motorcycles, known as tuk-tuks or jumbos, are available in all major towns and cities and are perfect for shorter journeys around town. Bargaining is expected.

By water:

The Mekong and other rivers are still a vital part of the country’s transport system despite the road system being gradually improved. However, the number of boats available has decreased dramatically. The choice is between irregular (and very basic) slow ferries and exciting but noisy and hazardous speedboats. A service runs from Luang Prabang to Houayxai, but there is no longer a service between Vientiane and Luang Prabang. The journey upstream from Luang Prabang to Houayxai takes two days, with an overnight stop in Pakbeng, and downstream it takes one day. There are regular jet-boat trips along the river, run by Lao River Exploration Services (www.jetboat.laopdr.com). Boats can also be hired privately.

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