Getting there and away
One truck does the 20km route between Hat Sa and Phongsali. It leaves Phongsali at around 07:30-08:00 and takes about an hour to reach Hat Sa. It is then scheduled to leave at around 15:00 for the journey back. It generally waits until the slow boat from Muang Khua has arrived. Ticket price is 8,000 kip each way.
Two alternatives exist for the journey from Hat Sa to Muang Khua: fast and slow boat. While hardly luxurious, the slow boat is infinitely more comfortable. It costs 90,000 kip per person, supposedly seats about 10 people and takes 5-6 hours to get to Muang Khua. The speed boat is 120,000 kip per person and takes just over two and a half hours. Supposedly eight, but generally more people will be squeezed in. This journey, with a packed boat and with water anything less than smooth as glass, is bone-jarring and petrifying, plus you miss the beautiful scenery.
If there are no public boats going, it is possible to hire a whole boat yourself. This costs about 600,000 kip (about $70) for either a fast or slow boat.
Boats do leave for small villages upstream, but there is nowhere for travellers to stay up there. However, some of the trekking trips organised by the Phongsali Tourism Office include journeys up this stretch of the river and into the countryside beyond.
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