Getting there & away
Sǎwngthǎew and buses head to Pakse (US$3.50 or US$4, 2½ to 3½ hours, 128km) at about 6am, 7am and 8am. After that, head over to Rte 13 and wait for anything going north.
To Voen Kham and the Cambodian border, get across to Rte 13 and wait for buses coming south from Pakse; they usually pass between 8.30am and 9am and cost US$2. Alternatively, take a tuk-tuk all the way from Hat Xai Khun for about US$10 per vehicle.
Finally, Pon’s River Guest House and the Souksan Hotel have air-con minibuses that run daily to Pakse for US$7, linking if you choose with a VIP bus to Vientiane (US$20). They can also be chartered to Pakse (US$60), the Thai border at Chong Mek (US$80) or Voen Kham.
The slow boat to Pakse is dead. RIP. There was some talk that a semi-regular boat might start running during the tourist high season, but don’t count on it. If it starts, Mr Pon will know the details.
There are regular boats between Hat Xai Khun and Don Khong; it’s US$3 per boat for one to three people, or US$1.50 per person for more. Bargaining is futile. The boatman will take you as near as possible to your guesthouse of choice. The vehicle ferry between Ban Hat and Ban Na charges US$0.10 per pedestrian, US$0.50 per motorcycle and US$2.50 per car/van/pick-up.
Seven-seat boats (with roofs) can be hired to Don Det and Don Khon (US$15, 1½ hours), though getting to Don Khon in the dry season will require a smaller boat. Mr Pon also runs a daily service to Don Det and Don Khon (US$4 per person), leaving at 8.30am.