Friday, 27 December 2013

The one with the river cruise & how to cross the Thai - Laos border

Mekong river cruise to Luang Prabang via Pakbeng. We started off at Chiang Rai Thailand. We took a bus ride to Chiang Khong which is on the border with Laos.

From Chaing Kbong you cross the border to Houi Xai in Laos. It was chaotic. All they had to do was tell you to grab a form from the middle stand in the left hand sided queue while filling out the form, Instead you are left to your own devices. With no one knowing what the hell was going on or what to do it took twice as long as necessary.

Once we had paid for the visa we crossed the border & grabbed a tuk tuk to the Mekong river. The slow boat cruise to Luang Prabang costs 200,000 kip (£15.08). It took around 6 hours the first day and around the same the second. We found some well priced accommodation for the night in Pak Beng half way through the journey. It was a lot of fun hanging around on the boat drinking & chatting, It was a bit cold though. Should of wrapped up a little better.

Tips -

1) A new bridge was opened 4 days before we crossed the border so the tuk tuk ride to the bridge is now 10km, previously it was 2km to the port where you got a little boat. If a tuk tuk driver tells you the port is closed he isn't conning you as we made a tuk tuk driver take us there & it is closed now as everyone uses the bridge.

2) Don't waste money on a travel agent, just go to Chiang Khong bus station at 5.45am and get on the 6am bus - it is 65 baht (£1.30) then get the tuk tuk to the bridge.

3) You can only pay for the visa in baht, dollar or kip & the currency exchange booth does not accept matstercard so its best to have cash. It is 30USD or 1400 baht

4) Go to the front of the left hand queue (push in a bit) for a form to fill in, then queue in the left hand queue then once you've handed the form in you queue in the right hand queue.

5) Do not buy accommodation from the man on the boat - you can get it much cheaper when you arrive in Pek Bang - there is not a big hill to climb (that's one of the sales tactics)

6) Buy a sandwich for the boat - all they sell is pork or fish Thai/Laos pot noodles

7)Wrap up warm, it can be freezing!

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