Lao Skyway operates six weekly flights from Vientiane. The new 60-seat turboprops depart Vientiane at 08:30 every day for the 1-hour scenic flight. Lao Airlines occasionally operates the route, depending on demand. Be sure to book early and confirm the schedule.
The popular Chiang Rai, Thailand, to Houay Xay route has new options. The 4th Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge has replaced the ferry in crossing from Chiang Khong to Bokeo. Visas on arrival are available as is transportation to town. Another new route is seeing travellers from Chiang Rai heading to Mae Sai in Thailand’s spoke of the Golden Triangle. They then bus to Chiang Saen to explore the ancient Lanna Kingdom capital, before taking a bus to Chiang Khong to enter Laos.
Taking a boat on the Mekong between Luang Prabang and Houay Xay via Pak Beng appears on all bucket lists. Budget travellers can book passage on public riverboats that depart daily from Luang Prabang and pause in Pak Beng for the night before moving on. It is best to book your Pak Beng room in advance as accommodation is limited. Mid-range cruises on a similar schedule offer a more comfortable on-board experience. Meals and a hotel room are included. A handful of luxury cruises also ply the route. Daredevils can make the run in a day on a torpedo-shaped “speed boat”.
Daily VIP busses to Houay Xay depart from Luang Namtha (4 hours), Oudomxay (7 hours), and Luang Prabang (13 hours) in the morning and midday. Local busses are slower and less comfortable but can save kip and depart throughout the day. Prices range from LAK50,000-150,000, depending bus class and route, and schedules are subject to change, so it is best to check the current timetable. Minivans and bus tickets are available at bus stations and through some travel agents.