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Journey time from Chiang Rai to Luang Prabang

Posted by simeone_8 on 21/3/2006 at 23:15

Has anyone journeyed from Chiang Rai to Luang Prabang and know how long it takes be it by bus or on the river. Also, am i correct in thinking the border crossing for this journey would be a place called Huay Xai???
Any help would be greatly appreciated.

#1 simeone_8 has been a member since 17/3/2006. Posts: 22

Posted by exacto on 22/3/2006 at 03:51

From Chiang Rai city you'll need to catch a bus to Chiang Khong, the city on the Thai side of the river across from Huay Xai (also spelled Houeisai, Houei Xai, etc.) in Laos. The bus from Chiang Rai to Chiang Khong takes about 3 hours. From there you'll take a ferry boat across the Mekong to Huay Xai. Once you are on the Lao side, you've got two choices. There are speed boats that make the journey all the way down to Luang Prabang in one day. I can't say I'd recommend those (what do others think?), given how uncomfortable that speedboat ride can be and the danger of flipping over or hitting a rock in the river during the trip. The other option is the slow boat, which takes 2 days to reach Luang Prabang, with an overnight stay usually in Pak Beung. I've heard mixed reviews about this trip. Some folks love it, and the views are amazing. But others suffered in cramped, airless compartments below deck. I guess it depends on the luck of the draw and the boat you get. Boats usually leave in the morning, so figure that into your plans, along with the time needed to clear immigration and cross the river. I'm not aware of an overland route from Huay Xai to Luang Prabang. Another option is to fly from Chiang Mai to Luang Prabang. The Lao Aviation website lists flights 3x/week (Tu,Fri,Sun) from Chiang Mai to Luang Prabang. My guide books also list a flight from Huay Xai to Luang Prabang on Lao Aviation too, but the Lao Aviation website doesn't list it so I'm guessing that route has been discontinued. Hope this helps.

#2 exacto has been a member since 12/2/2006. Location: United States. Posts: 2,606
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Posted by simeone_8 on 22/3/2006 at 20:36

Brilliant. Thanks very much.
Id heard that the speedboat trip was not for the fainthearted but didn't know it took that long. Think we may head back to Chiang Mai and fly then given our timescale. Thanks again.

#3 simeone_8 has been a member since 17/3/2006. Posts: 22

Posted by ALBERTO on 22/3/2006 at 22:47

I don't recommend to fly with lao aviation.
If you want to spend a beautiful journey go to chiang khong with bus (there are a lot of public bus running this road).
Cross the Mekong to Huay Xay and then take a slow boat to pak beng...you can make also reservation in advance in Chiang Mai.
From Huay Xay to Luang Prabang is a two days trip (stopping in Pak Beng 1 night).
Now it's dry season so there are bus that start from Huay Xay to Udomaxay (amazing,it's better two days) and then from Udomaxay to Luang Prabang via Pak Mong (if you are lucky one day).

#4 ALBERTO has been a member since 24/5/2005. Posts: 1

Posted by exacto on 23/3/2006 at 09:31

I'd be interested to hear why ALBERTO doesn't recommend flying with Lao Aviation? Is this based on a government alert, personal experience, or what? What do others think? I've flown with them several times and haven't had a problem. These are ATR-7's flying these international routes, not Y-12s. So what's up? Are you really suggesting that an international flight on Lao Aviation is more dangerous than a river trip down the Mekong? Maybe ALBERTO is right, but I'm always wary of this kind of unsubstatiated comment, because it seems like hearsay based on prejudice. Please let me know. Thanks.

#5 exacto has been a member since 12/2/2006. Location: United States. Posts: 2,606
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