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Chiang Khong

Travel Guide

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Chiang Khong is set on the far northern Thai border, straight across the swirling waters of the Mekong River from the Lao town of Huay Xai. Chiang Khong is primarily known for being one of the more popular border crossings for backpackers and independent travellers travelling to and/or from Laos.

Long and thin, Chiang Khong runs in an east-west direction along the southern bank of the Mekong River. The river's bank is lined with a bunch of guesthouses and small restaurants. Guesthouses and backpacker cafes aside, Chiang Khong is a typical small Thai town -- wander away from the riverfront and you could be pretty much anywhere in Thailand.

While many view the town as nothing more than an overnight stop to or from Laos, Chiang Khong has a few outlying attractions in its own right, including waterfalls and rapids -- both of which can be visited on short trips organised at your guesthouse, or independently if you have your own transport. If you have the time, or by chance are not going to Laos, you could easily spend a couple of days here -- some spend a lot longer.

For those in a rush to get to Laos there are nightly direct buses from Bangkok to Chiang Khong.

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Chiang Khong is a bit of a victim of its location. If it didn't happen to be at an international border crossing with Laos, it would be a destination in its own right. As it stands, by the time most get here, all they want to do is Get To Laos. If you happen to have time on your hands, however, Chiang Khong has quite a bit to do and see.

There are waterfalls, pleasing river scenery, remote wats, great bicycle potential and a ridiculously cheap nightclub. If all that sounds passe, then by all means get the boat over to Laos, but otherwise, ask around for the "Chiang Khong Sightseeing Map", get yourself some wheels and do some exploring.

One note to those with their own transport: There are two routes from Chiang Saen to Chiang Khong -- the longer by the river, the shortcut over the hill. The riverfront one is very interesting, but the over-the-hill route includes a killer viewpoint. It's difficult to recommend one over the other -- try both!

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Text and/or map last updated on 30th October, 2013.

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