We are a family of 5 wanting to travel from either Chaing Rai or Chiang Mai to Luang Probang and back and considering the entire journey by road to maximise our limited time in Laos. Would greatly appreciate any recent/ up to date information or advice in organising this trip. (have gone off the idea of the river due to some of the other posts on travelfish).
#1 ano_1 has been a member since 9/9/2009. Posts: 20
I did the journey earlier this year. Go see my blog on that part of my trip, here .
Whichever way you do the land/river journey, it takes 3 days. Chaing Mai > Chiang Khong VIP minibus 5 hrs (arrive @ 3pm-ish) border crossing about half to 1 hour. Overnight Huay Xai . Huay Xai to Lunag Nam Tha bus station about 5 hours. Bus station to Luang Nam Tha 'centre' 10 mins. Overnight Luang Nam Tha. Luang Nam Tha bus station to Luang Prabang about 7 hours.
Fly Chiang Mai - Luang Prabang, approx US$90 / person. Use the extra time for a 2 day excursion up the Nam Ou, with or without a day trek, or an elephant trek, or a 3 day trip to Vang Vieng.
Don't know what info you read on other posts about river but you need to take a lot of the info on these forums with salt. Some info uninformed and some just plain old outright wrong.
I liked Hacky's suggestion on that other forum, (reply #4) for the cost of 5 people you can rent the whole boat, plenty of room to stretch out your legs then. Leisurely lunch at the riverside restaurant in Pak Beng then on into Luang Praban early enough to find your way around and stuff. Kids love the fast boat.
Bus boat schedules to everywhere here.
The bus can also be done in a day from Huay Xai but it takes minimum 12 hours and leaves mid day from Huay Xai, so you arrive in Luang Prabang in the middle of the night.
No matter what you do you are going to spend a day in transit from Huay Xai to Luang Prabang, more than likely a tiring day. My question is do you realy need to go to Luang Prabang that much? Luang Namtha is very nice and much closer.
Being a family of 5, there may well be 2 adults & 3 kids. If that is the case, they could fly CM > LP, boat up the Nam Ou to Nong Khiaw, hire a vehicle to take them to Oudomxay, regular bus to LNT - maybe some time there and visit Muang Sing, then bus to Huay Xai and go pursue the Gibbon Experience before returning to CM.
That would be a journey to write home about. If there were kids, imagine the conversations when they returned home to school!!!
somsai are you referring to a thread on TT? I thought hacky had bailed on that forum eons ago. To tired to check now, but if you can pony up the cash I'd go the private boat charter -- it's a spectacular trip (as long as you don't have to share it with 100 others)!