Getting There

Savannakhet is on the main north-south route from Pakse to Vietnam. The bus terminal is located near the main market, or Talat Nyai, in the north of the old town. There are three daily buses to the Lao Bao, Vietnam, border leaving at 6:30am, 9:30am, and noon. The journey takes 6 hours. You can also take a songthaeaw, but it's only advised if you are a masochist since it's a long journey and you will be cramped and unlikely to be able to see anything along the way. You can also cross the bridge from the very pleasant town of Mukdahan in Thailand. Take a tuk-tuk from Immigration to the old town for between $2 and $4, depending on your powers of persuasion.

Buses to Vientiane leave daily every half-hour throughout the day from 6am to 10pm and take about 10 hours to cover the 457km (283-mile) route. Going south to Pakse the first bus is at 7:30am and the last one is at 1:30am the following morning. The journey is 230km (143 miles) and takes 6 hours. You won't miss any great sights by traveling at night since it is a quite dreary road.

Getting Around

Savannakhet's old town is small and perfectly walkable. Quite a number of guesthouses also rent out motorcycles for between $10 and $12 per day and bicycles for between $1 and $1.50. There are plenty tuk-tuks plying the streets. Just hop in and tell the man where you want to go.

Riding a Skylab -- In Savan, tuk-tuks are called "skylabs" for some unfathomable reason that probably has something to do with drug use by visitors in the 1960s and 1970s. These distinctly terrestrial vehicles charge between 50ยข and $1.50 around town depending on just how far you intend your orbit to stretch -- or you could just ask them to beam you up direct.

Fast Facts

Banks & Currency Exchange -- The BCEL (Ratsavongseuk Rd.; tel. 041/212-26; open Mon-Fri 8:30am-3:30pm) changes cash and traveler's checks and gives advances on MasterCard and Visa. There is also an ATM issuing kip only. Around the corner the Lao Development Bank (Udomsin Rd.; tel. 041/212-272) also changes cash and traveler's checks and gives advances on MasterCard and Visa.

Embassies & Consulates -- Given its location both Thailand (Thanon Kuravong; tel. 041/212-373) and Vietnam (Thanon Sisavangvong; tel. 041/212-418) have consulates in Savannakhet.

Post Office -- You'll find the Post Office (Thanon Khanthabuli; tel. 041/212-205) is at the southern edge of town. There are many Internet cafes scattered throughout town. They generally close at 10pm.

Tourism Information -- The Provincial Tourism Office (Thanon Ratsapanith; tel. 041/214-203; open daily 8-11:30am and 1:30-4:30pm), 2 blocks back from the river near the old immigration office, is well organized. When we went there the staff spoke English and some French. They had information not only on Central Laos but also other parts of the country. They can also provide tours and onward bookings.

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.