Myself and my friend are traveling through Thailand in May - starting in Bangkok then traveling up to Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai after 3/4 weeks. We then want to cross the Thai border to Laos, however at the moment we are unsure where the best crossing points would be and how easy it is by public transportation.
If anyone could give us advice that would be appreciated!
#1 floralbutton has been a member since 7/12/2010. Posts: 2
Only one place you can cross after Chiang Rai and that's Chiang Khong which is a 2.5 hour 60 baht bus ride from CR (buses leave every half hour from the older bus terminal in town). Plenty of guesthouses and info in Chiang Khong along the river or on the Laos side in Huay Xai. Get Laos visa on arrival for $30-42 depending on your nationality, then have slow boats, speed boats, and buses to the next destination. It's really a get there and see place, just don't forget to bring cash with you to Laos (Thai baht, USD, or other hard currency) as the ATMs are few and sometimes unreliable.
No just bring some cash with you, as in enough for at least a few days. I've seen people enter cashless and then when the ATM link was down for a couple days they had no money and in one case even had to return to Thailand to cash-up and get new visas for Laos. The mostly BCEL ATM network is OK most of the time, but don't rely on it 100%. There are ATMs in a growing number of main towns but it's still not a modern country in that sense and you should always be a bit prepared, especially if headed for quieter corners.
BCEL ATM locations
There are a lot more ATMs in Vientiane, or you can use credit card cash advances in many towns.
OP reports that tourists still do face problems with using ATMs in Laos.
have seen more than a few tourists bang & kick the ATM machines in Luang Prabang out of frustration. & electricity supply there can still get KO-ed by big storms. & in the provinces, someone who knows how to repair them isn't always immediately available.
ATM networks can and do fail everywhere. I've personally had them go toes up on me in Indonesia, Mexico, and Estatos Unidos. I always travel with a few days of cash and/or a traveller's check or two just in case. It is rarely needed but for those few times I mentioned above it saved my bacon. Cheers.
ATMs in Vientiane are way more reliable since there are many of them from different banks who all have their corporate base there. So even if there's a technical problem someone can fix it usually same day. Not the case out in the other provinces. Spent several days in Luang Namtha for example watching people cross the road from the Manychan guesthouse to those new-looking ATMs in vain as the link was down. Also people in Luang Prabang racing down the road hitting each ATM on a Sunday afternoon as each machine ran out of banknotes (not serviced on weekends). Always carry a few days preemptive cash on hand.