Planning on entering Lao via the Chiang Khong/Huay Xai crossing but according to the border crossing section of this site, they sometimes do not accept USD for the fee - what currencies do they accept? I have had hassles before with Lao border officials and wonder how bad it really is?
Also how easy/difficult is bus travel in the area. We are planning on visiting Muang Sing, Phongsali, Muang Noi etc.? We did this trip 12 years ago by renting a car and driver from LP and wonder what if anything has changed - any info on travel times between these locations, palces to stay would be appreciated.
They have always accepted USD the many times I've been to this border. It's $30-35 for most nationalities ($42 for Canadians) but in Thai baht they charge THB1200-1500 (1800 for Canucks) still thinking the exchange rate is 42 (like it was 2005).
Roads are generally way better than 12 years ago. From Huay Xai to Luang Namtha and to Muang Sing is all sealed roadway now and takes a fraction of the previous time. But with each rainy season combined with heavy Chinese commercial vehicles the roads get beat up (then repaired then beat up again) so expect some bouncy potholes along even the best routes.