Getting there & away
Sǎwngthǎew to Loei (30B, 1¼ hours) depart about every 15 minutes from a stop on Rte 201, while nine buses (36B, 45 minutes) leave from Nakhon Chai Air’s bus terminal about 100m further south.
No transport runs direct to Nong Khai, so you’ll have to get out of town to catch the bus headed there from Loei. It may be possible to take a sǎwngthǎew to Pak Chom (25B, one hour), but these only run if they’re full, and they rarely fill up these days since the road is in terrible shape (though you could always just buy up the remaining seats). The surer option is to take the Loei sǎwngthǎew south to Ban Tad (20B, 30 minutes) and get the bus there. Ask at your guesthouse if things have changed.
Three companies make the run to Bangkok (about 10 hours) daily from their own offices. Air Muang Loei (0 4282 1002; Soi 9), with an office at a pharmacy, has two buses (1st/2nd class 479/372B) each morning at 8am and again at 6.30pm. 999 VIP (0 4281 1706; Soi 9) includes ordinary services (193B) at 6pm and 6.50pm, and a 24-seat VIP (540B) at 6.30pm. Phu Kradung Tours (0 9696 2845; Rte 201) charges 372B for its 6.30pm trip.
If you’re heading west and you’ve got your own wheels, consider following the seldom-seen back roads along Mae Nam Heuang; they will eventually deposit you in Dan Sai.