Getting there and away
Tha Khaek's main bus terminal is located along Route 13, 500 metres south of the intersection with Route 12. There are regular departures to points north and south. A tuk tuk ride from town should cost about 10,000 kip per person, but we experienced extremely aggressive negotiating from the drivers based at the bus station. As well, Travel Lodge has an arrangement with tuk tuk drivers to charge more than the going rate for transfers to the bus station – you should find your own.
Destinations within Laos
Attapue: Departs 15:30, 23:00. Costs 85,000. 12 hours.
Paksan: Departs regularly from 05:30 to 24:00. Costs 50,000. 4 hours.
Pakse: Departs regularly from 8:30 to 24:00. Costs 60,000. 7 hours.
Salavan: Departs 24:00. Costs 85,000. 9 hours.
Savannakhet: Departs regularly from 10:30 to 23:00. Costs 30,000. 3 hours.
Sekong: Departs 15:30, 23:00. Costs 75,000. 10 hours.
Vientiane: Departs regularly from 05:30 to 24:00. Costs 60,000. 6 hours.
Buses to Thailand
Nakhon Phanom: Departs every 60 to 90 minutes (in each direction), crossing the Friendship Bridge 3, costs 18,000 kip and takes about 90 minutes (30 of which covers border formalities).
Buses to Vietnam
Da Nang: Departs Monday and Friday, 20:00. Costs 120,000. 15 hours.
Dong Hoi: Departs 07:00 Mon, Wed, Fri, Sat. Costs 90,000. 10 hours.
Hanoi: Departs Saturday only, 08:30 and 20:00. Costs 160,000. 20 hours.
Vinh: Departs everyday at 07:00 and 20:00. 10 hours.
See the Savannakhet transport section for more frequent departures to Vietnam.
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Located about 100 metres east of the roundabout, the main songthaew station is filled with songthaews and small buses that leave when full, for almost everywhere else in the area -- you can get to points along Route 12, Route 8 and Route 1E, Mahaxai, Nakai, Lak Xao, Na Hin and so on. Rates are reasonable, with prices to places such as Na Hin costing 50,000 kip and Mahaxay 25,000 kip.
The tuk tuk station at the 3km market south of the roundabout serves local destination but is of little use unless you are visiting destinations within the immediate region of Tha Khaek.
If you're looking to hire a motorcycle, there are several options in Tha Khaek. These motorbikes take an absolute beating on the loop and many are prone to breakdown. Try and get one with low KM on the clock.
One of the most popular options is to use the in-house motorcycle hire service at the Travel Lodge. Mr Ku has reached almost legendary status and his handdrawn maps, great English and genuinely helpful demeanour seal the deal for most. These motorbikes are good, but expensive by local standards. 100,000 kip.
Wang Wang down by the river hires out similar motorbikes to Mr Ku, but at much better prices. His 65 motorbikes are split between old and new with some of the newer ones only having 5000 kilometres on the clock. Old/new: 45,000 / 60,000 kip.
Khammouane Inter Guesthouse rents out absolutely hopeless motorbikes at cheap rates. The one we hired was an accident waiting to happen and we wouldn't recommend taking these bikes on the loop, although zipping around town for a few hours might be doable. 50,000 kip.
A few doors up from Wang Wang, a German guy rents out more durable motorbikes at much higher prices. If you're in need of the absolute best motorbike in Tha Khaek, this is where you should head. US$25 and up.
The bottom line is this: if you choose to hire a bike, you should test it first. The Loop is not the ideal place to learn how to ride a motorbike, but this hasn't stopped thousands of people doing just that. But there is clear evidence that many people do crash motorbikes on the Loop – there are plenty of people in bandages at the Travel Lodge. Drive slowly and don't be too confident. And of course, make sure you have insurance.
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