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Northern Thailand to Laos - advice much appreciated

  • Poohh

    Joined Travelfish
    18th January, 2014
    Posts: 8

    Hi all,

    At July 21st my visa for Thailands ends, so I need to leave the country. Since I'll be in the North, I thought it makes sense to pick Laos as my next destination. As far as I know now, the border crossing Huay Xai / Chiang Khong is the one to pick from Chiang Rai. But after that I'm in the dark....I don't wan't to take the slow boat, and the other option is the bus to Luang Prabang. As I understand, the latter is a really long and uncomfortable ride, and I wonder how others have designed ther way further into Laos. Maybe break up the trip and include orther places? Any advice and is much appreciated!! I'm a 34-year solo female traveler, and this is my first time in SEA. Thailand so far has been easy, but probably Laos wil not be so easy to get around?

    If anyone is considering the same trip....let me know!

    -P

    #1 Posted: 30/6/2014 - 04:53

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  • Captain_Bob

    Click here to learn more about Captain_Bob
    Joined Travelfish
    27th May, 2006
    Location Thailand
    Posts: 1655

    See map here. Bus Huay Xai to Luang Namtha about 4 hours. Nice chilled-out town with a modicum of convenience (ATM, paved roads, several guesthouses, etc.) Good place to rent a bike (pedal or power) and explore the surrounding villages, temples, etc. This map freely distributed around town. From there if you get the first am bus (bus station 8km out of town on the highway) you can go to Oudomxai then Nong Khiaw same day. Another good destination and a few hours before Luang Prabang.

    More travel info here

    #2 Posted: 30/6/2014 - 07:27

  • Poohh

    Joined Travelfish
    18th January, 2014
    Posts: 8

    That helps, thanks lot!

    I'm also thinking to get to Nan and from there on to Laos. Anyone any experience with this route? My guesthouse thinks there's a border crossing near Nan, but doesn't know how long it will take me to get there and how to move on. I'd like to go to Nan instead of CR ;-). Any advice?

    #3 Posted: 30/6/2014 - 12:09

  • billytheliar

    Joined Travelfish
    3rd April, 2012
    Posts: 42
    Total reviews: 7
    Places visited:
    At least 19

    Nan is a quiet rural town with a nice feeling (interesting museum, too). From the Nan bus station you can get a bus to Thung Chang (+songthaew to the border) or direct to the border (Ban Huay Kon). VOA available, painless border crossing (no "extra fee" scams). You may have to walk 1km no man's land between the two checkpoints (Thai and Lao), as there is no organized transport. In Laos (Muang Ngeun) you can get a bus (for me it was a songthaew) to Hongsa and from Hongsa (depending on the time you arrive) busses to Sayabuly, Luang Prabang and I think Vientiane (I may not remember correctly). If you can't make it in one day, there are a couple of guesthouses in Muang Ngeun or, better, in Hongsa (Jumbo Guesthouse is fine).
    From Hongsa you can also get a tuk tuk to Tasuang (I think) in the morning and then change to the slow boat for Luang Prabang (don't worry, they will be waiting). Tasuang is after Pakbeng, so you'll have a (boat) travel time of 6 or 7 hours.
    What else? Start early and keep in mind that there are no ATMs at the border.

    #4 Posted: 30/6/2014 - 14:30

  • Poohh

    Joined Travelfish
    18th January, 2014
    Posts: 8

    Thanks! That sounds doable 😊

    #5 Posted: 1/7/2014 - 10:49

  • Lewtravels

    Joined Travelfish
    9th June, 2014
    Location United States
    Posts: 7

    Pooh,

    Haven't been in Laos since 2010 but am returning in February and doing this route from BKK to Chiang Rai to Huay Xait to Luang Namtha to Muang Sing to Nong Khiauw to Luang Prabang.

    You can't help but love Laos; laid back, peaceful, friendly, honest.

    I am avoiding Vang Vieng and probably will fly from LP to Pnomh Penh.

    Here are pictures of Laos http://lewlortonphoto.com/f898948312

    and a trip report with pictures at http://lewlortonphoto.com/blog/2012/9/adventures-on-the-road-in-northern-laos

    p256682832-4.jpg

    #6 Posted: 5/7/2014 - 10:38

  • Poohh

    Joined Travelfish
    18th January, 2014
    Posts: 8

    Thanks Lew! Loved reading you trip report; thanks for sharing!

    I'll try make it to Laos fr Nan this weekend, and share my experiences here ;-)

    #7 Posted: 17/7/2014 - 22:51

  • Lewtravels

    Joined Travelfish
    9th June, 2014
    Location United States
    Posts: 7

    One thing I learned the hard way.
    The last bus from Udomxai to Nong Khiaw leaves at 12 noon so if your bus from Luang Namtha gets to Udomxai after that you are stuck.
    Haven't yet done this but supposedly best strategy, if you are stuck, is to go on to Pak Mong and get a sangthieu from there.

    #8 Posted: 18/7/2014 - 06:53

  • Poohh

    Joined Travelfish
    18th January, 2014
    Posts: 8

    Yeah...all the nice locals in Nan also tell me to get the very first bus in the morning to the border. Then I most likely will make it to Hongsa the same day. From there on I can continue to LP... ;-)

    #9 Posted: 18/7/2014 - 23:34

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