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Getting around

Getting around

Luang Prabang is easy to cover on foot or bicycle. If you get tired, tuk-tuks and jumbos cost about 5,000 kip per trip (less with more people and some haggling). Note: Citing the many accidents in recent years, local officials have put the kibosh on motorbike rentals (which also ensures work for local transportation providers). Luang Prabang is a town for walking, really, but it is a shame that you can no longer go putt-putting out to the waterfalls.

Vatthanaluck Vehicle Rental, around the corner from the Villa Santi (tel. 071/212-838), covers all the bases for rentals and is the best bet of the many competitors. Bicycles go for just $1 per day; a rented car with driver is $25. For sights outside the city, jumbos and tuk-tuks usually gather along Xieng Thong Road across from the popular cafes and restaurants; prices are negotiable.

Longtail boats are for hire at Luang Prabang's main pier and can take you to adjacent villages and the Pak Ou Caves.

Where the streets have no names

In Luang Prabang, though you'll see street signs, the same road can change names as it progresses through the city, making things confusing. For example, the main street (I refer to it as "restaurant row" at the town center) is Chao Fa Ngum, Sisavangvong, or Sakkarine Road, depending on where you are. Locals use village names, not streets, to navigate, and villages are commonly named for the local wat. When checking into your hotel, get a business card or ask the name of the local wat to tell taxi and tuk-tuk drivers. Also note that the Western spelling of many street and wat names is very inconsistent. Just sound it out.