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Chiang Mai to Laos train or plane?

  • TommyKay

    Joined Travelfish
    2nd November, 2011
    Posts: 10

    Travelling from south to north of thailand. Planning on leaving from Chiang Mai with my next destination being Laos (unsure really where in Laos I want to start off but Vientiane seems as good a place as any). So do I use train or plane? Whats the most hassle free option in terms of border crossing? The cheaper option may also be favoured! Flights are looking to be around £200, Ive had a look on seat61 and can't find anything about travelling from chiang mai..........

    #1 Posted: 12/1/2012 - 07:07

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  • caseyprich

    Joined Travelfish
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    Location China
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    Chiang Mai, I think you can only fly into Luang Prabang . Only way to take a train would basically be to go back down to BKK and then book a ticket to Nong Khai - you get off the train there and then cross into Laos. Otherwise you go overland Chiang Kong/Huay Xia. Probably the cheapest option - and you can onward travel overland to Luang Nam Tha for some hiking or take the boat down to Luang Prabang.

    #2 Posted: 12/1/2012 - 08:08

  • DLuek

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    Yes, no real train option here.

    Cheapest thing would be to take a bus from Chiang Mai to Udon Thani, then switch to a bus bound for Nong Khai or Vientiane . This is a rather grueling 15+ hour bus trip, however.

    Flights direct from Chiang Mai to Vientiane or Luang Prabang are very expensive considering it's not too far a distance. The cheaper thing to do is check www.nokair.com for their direct flight from Chiang Mai to Udon Thani, then switch to a bus from there.

    Alternately, you could head north and cross into Laos at the Chiang Khang / Huay Xai crossing and head south from there by boat on the Mekong. For info on that check the Laos slow boat thread.

    #3 Posted: 12/1/2012 - 09:13

  • inspiredbyk-

    Joined Travelfish
    9th December, 2011
    Posts: 68

    I reccomend a bus from Chiang Mai to Udon Thani. Here you can change for a bus to Nong Khai and then onwards to Vietiane, Laos. Flying will be expensive.

    #4 Posted: 12/1/2012 - 10:05


    Joined Travelfish
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    It's going to suck no matter what you do. Flying will be expensive, train/bus is going to take a LONG time.

    #5 Posted: 12/1/2012 - 10:45

  • exacto

    Joined Travelfish
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    If you are already in Chiang Mai, then logistically it makes no sense to start your Laos trip in Vientiane . From Chiang Mai, do exactly as DLuek says and cross into Laos at Chiang Khong/Huai Xai. From there you can work your way south through the country, with a stopover in Vientiane on the way. Cheers.

    #6 Posted: 12/1/2012 - 13:23

  • n8sand

    Joined Travelfish
    18th December, 2010
    Location United States
    Posts: 13
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    They are right. Start north and work your way south. You'll be much happier if you travel bit by bit in Laos. Plus, the north is not to be missed. You'll see an amazing part of the country.

    #7 Posted: 12/1/2012 - 23:50

  • Captain_Bob

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    Ditto the above, get a bus or minivan from Chiang Mai to Chiang Khong then work your way through the north and down. This is more logical and very easy to do, you'll be in the company of dozens of folks doing same same in fact. Take a slow boat to Luang Prabang or deviate slightly via Luang Namtha, Muang Sing, Nong Khiaw, Muang Ngoi, Phonsavan (still touristy but not as thick as Luang Prabang - Vang Vieng). Entering Laos via Vientiane makes sense only if you're heading further north after (Vietnam, China).

    #8 Posted: 13/1/2012 - 23:19

  • TommyKay

    Joined Travelfish
    2nd November, 2011
    Posts: 10

    Thanks for all the advise guys I think we will definatley go with the Khang / Huay Xai border crossing and make our way down through the country, not going to miss a trip down the Mekong!
    Brilliant and helpfull advice as always, getting closer to our flight date now in October and we're getting excited!!

    #9 Posted: 8/3/2012 - 21:35

  • TommyKay

    Joined Travelfish
    2nd November, 2011
    Posts: 10

    ... One other thing with regards to this route of traveling, im under the impression that to get a free Thai 30 day visa we need to have proof of onward travel, what would that be if taking this route... ?

    #10 Posted: 8/3/2012 - 23:09

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    Joined Travelfish
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    Posts: 41

    Hi take the slow boat form the Thai/Laos border 2 days floating through beautiful scenery, dont be tempted by the speedboat and pack a jumper.

    #11 Posted: 11/3/2012 - 17:24

  • Batman

    Joined Travelfish
    11th August, 2014
    Posts: 1

    Hi folks, Myself and my partner are going traveling around SEA and have our flights booked into Thailand but I read that in order to enter Thailand you must have proof of a bus/boat/plane ticket out of the country at some stage. I have tried booking tickets online but cant seem to find a website that will allow me to book a bus or the slow boat from Chiang Mai to Loa or even any kind of transport out of Thailand. Has anyone else had this issue? Any help would be greatly appreciated.


    Shauna :-) x

    #12 Posted: 11/8/2014 - 09:12

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