|Outside of the capital, travelling by boat or road is an unplanned event where timetables
are very flexible. Most buses, always, geriatric hand downs from
Korea or Japan, only leave when full, which can sometimes be very frustrating.
Boats can be more trusty, even though they usually take longer where
a more direct, surface road exists. Hiring small boats is another
good choice. The quickest and most comfortable way to travel
around the country is of course flying.|
Taxis are widely available in the capital
itself; however, they are not cheap compared with tuk-tuks. Many
are well past their sell by date too. Nevertheless, a fleet of comparatively
new Volkswagens has currently become available in Vientiane providing a high-priced
but comfortable 40-50 kilometre journey to the Thai border.
Tuk-tuks are also called "jumbos, taxi or samlor" which are generally available in Vientiane. Just call a passing 3-wheeler over by waving a hand up and down,
palm facing the ground. Haggling
over the fare is necessary, but they are
inexpensive and go almost anywhere.
A few rickshaws (a small vehicle used in South East Asia for carrying one or two passengers) are left in Laos. Old men with dark, leathery skin do most of the cycling. Still nothing
quite beats travelling this way. Quiet, and at a stable pace in
a comfortable chair, it is the great way to wander around
town if there is no rush.
A fleet of buses, donated by the Japanese
government runs around the capital. Visitors are not recommended to take a city bus except for visiting places far from the city centre.
Laos has no railways; however, there are plans for extending
the Thai railway to
Vientiane across the Friendship Bridge in Nong Khai. This is a long wait before trains are truly available in the capital.
Some of the buses have provided the service on inter-provincial routes. They are fairly convenient and comfortable, although the long legged
may find them a touch cramped. There is no air condition.
Truck-buses (a truck chassis with a wooden bus body) and songthaews (pick-up trucks with seats running down the sides and a roof to keep the sun and rain out) are also running on inter-provincial routes. The ideal advantage of truck-buses is that men can sit on the
roof, enjoying the great landscape when the bus is out of town.
3 types of
boats operate along the Mekong and its tributaries. Cargo boats sail up to China but it is not
available to foreigners yet. Travellers can hire long, narrow passenger boats or small speedboats. Normally, there is no
problem to ride on cargo boats within Laos either. Major routes are
along the Mekong, Pak and Tha rivers.
Laos Aviation provides services to most provinces, which include a few services
to Cambodia, Kunming in China, Thailand and Vietnam. Lao Aviation
operates low altitude turboprop planes, that are often buffeted
by strong turbulence caused by the rugged topography, combined with
the often heavy cloud cover, this makes landing at smaller provincial
Vientiane and Luang Prabang have electronic landing
aids. Lao Aviation is strapped for cash, and crashes happen
quite often with at least two in 2000. Many embassies advise
against flying with Lao Aviation.
Taxis and tuk-tuks are always available at the Wattay International
Airport, on the edge of town. Haggling over the fare might be essential
to get a reasonable price.