To tour the province’s Northern Legends Trail, base your stay in Hongsa Town, while Sayabouly Town covers the Land of Elephants’ central region. Paklay opens the door to the Southern Mountain Circuit and Thai border, while plenty of overland routes link all three to other destinations. You’ll find adequate accommodation, travel agents, Tourist Information Centres, and restaurants serving local specialties.
Though airlines have suspended flights to Sayabouly, the province is just a few hours’ drive from Luang Prabang. Regular overland transportation is also available from Vientiane, and other provinces as well as Thailand.
Local busses depart Vientiane for Sayabouly Town via Paklay twice a day in the morning, and a pair of VIP sleepers arrive via Luang Prabang. Local busses, minivans, and tours head to Sayabouly from Luang Prabang, and a minivan service is available in Xieng Khouang Province. Tickets are available at local travel agents.
A bus leaves from Loei, Thailand, for Sayabouly Town at 08:00 (LAK125,000), with brief border stops at both sides of the Nam Heuang Bridge. Visas on arrival are available.
Tuk tuks, sawng taews (Pickup trucks with benches), 4WD vehicles, and minivans are the main forms of transportation between the three hubs and to outlying provinces. Schedules often change, so it is best to check at the bus station for departure times. You can negotiate with drivers to hire them for the day.
Travel companies in Sayabouly Town and Luang Prabang offer tours and vehicles with drivers. Guesthouses and hotels can often help arrange transportation to tour the surrounding area, and a few rent bicycles and motorcycles.
The province offers four hotels and more than 100 guesthouses, and most are in and around Sayabouly, Hongsa, and Paklay Towns. Guesthouses tend to range from $6-10 per night, though higher-end rooms are available for up to $15. Hotel rooms run between $25-60.
Sayabouly presents more than 60 restaurants, and are generally in district centres. They mostly offer Lao and Thai menus featuring fish, beef, pork, and chicken dishes eaten with rice, along with soups, salads and fruit platters. However, scores of noodle shops scattered in between can keep travellers sated with khao soi, khao poon and other local noodle soups.