Only a decade ago, Laos was a very difficult country to get around. When there were roads, they were usually dreadful. The domestic airline, then called Lao Aviation, had a reputation for plummeting as much as flying horizontally. Anywhere outside of the most touristed areas, facilities were often reduced to a level of cold water, no electricity, and food that could flatteringly be described as basic. In short, it was an adventure.
That era seems like a different age when you travel in Laos today. In one short decade, almost all the main roads have been paved and sealed. Planes are now less likely to fall out of the sky and buses are now frequent (though it would be a lie to call them comfortable). Fresh hotels and guesthouses spring up every month in every category. In the major towns, one can sample high-quality French cuisine, while Lao food is distinctive and delicious. Laos also remains a cheap country for travel. The slow pace of life has been complemented by change rather than destroyed by it, and Laos's tranquillity now comes with a great deal less physical discomfort than was once the case. There are exceptions, Vang Vieng being the glaring example.
Having said all this, it is still a good idea to factor in plenty of time when traveling in Laos, since levels of efficiency are still not high.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.