Or can I get to the tower without a guide?
#2 QWE has been a member since 26/4/2013. Posts: 25
I assume you mean the elephant observation tower near Ban Na? I've only been to the village itself but never the tower, but I would say that you can probably hire someone on arrival, but it would be best to check. There are some amazing waterfalls in the area, such as Tad Leuk and Tad Xay which are also well worth checking out . You can stay the night in Ban Na or Ban Hatkhai (or Hatkai), which is a beautiful quiet village where I stayed for a month last year and I highly recommend even for a night, to experience Lao village hospitality - https://www.travelfish.org/accommodation_profile/laos/vientiane_and_surrounds/vientiane/phou_khao_khouay_national_park/all/3177). The info on travelfish isn't very positive, but I had a great time getting to know the people there and experiencing their relaxed way of life.
From the trekkingcentrallaos.com website: "Contact Ban Na or Ban Hatkhai The phone number of Ban Na is: 020 2220 82 86 or 020 2220 82 62 ; the number of Ban Hatkhai is 020 2224 03 03. The villagers barely speak English, therefore ask your tour operator or English speaking person in Vientiane to contact the village prior to your trip. This is also important for inquiries regarding availability of guides. Occasionally, there might be other unpredictable reasons, though rare, for the villagers not to receive visitors".
This site seems to recommends booking a tour but also gives info on how to arrange a visit yourself: http://www.trekkingcentrallaos.com/html/bookatour.html