It is now possible to travel to every province in Laos by some form of public road transport. Regular buses ply Rte 13 between Luang Prabang and Savannakhet. Other routes in the south typically use flat-bed trucks mounted with carriages and seats. The alternative mode of getting around is river transport. The main thoroughfares are the Mekong, Nam Ou, Nam Khan, Nam Tha, Nam Ngum and Se Don. With the increase in road travel, river passenger services are declining year by year, but you can still catch long-distance ferries and express boats, (not to be confused with the extremely fast heua wai , speed boats) between Huay Xai and Vientiane. For shorter trips it's usually best to hire a river taxi or, in the upper Mekong, a speed boat.
There are a few taxis in the larger towns, plenty of three-wheeled motorcycles and, for shorter distances, pedicabs. Bargaining skills will be required. Small 100cc motorbikes can be rented in Vientiane, Luang Prabang and Savannakhet. Bicycles can be rented in Vientiane, Savannakhet, Don Khong and Luang Prabang.
Copyright 2010 Lonely Planet Publications , all rights reserved, used with permission