Photo: Classic scenery surrounds Vang Vieng.

Laos forum

Pak Beng to Nan Update

Posted by LaoNow on 10/1/2011 at 12:53

On the slow boat trip from Pak Beng to Huay Xai last week I met a couple travelers who had the boat stop and drop them off at the Mekong ferry crossing about 40 minutes upstream from Pak Beng. They were headed to Nan and hoping to get a hitchhike lift from the ferry crossing to Muang Ngeun near the border. Seems like a great way to do the trip since there is no public transport out of Pak Beng. If enough of us start doing this maybe the songtaew drivers in Muang Ngeun will start waiting for the boat every day which would be a blessing.

#1 LaoNow has been a member since 14/5/2010. Posts: 38

Posted by neosho on 10/1/2011 at 19:06

If you are talking about Nan Thailand, do you realize how far that trip would be?

#2 neosho has been a member since 13/8/2008. Posts: 386

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Posted by LaoNow on 11/1/2011 at 13:17

#2, yes I know how far it is since I did a similar trip in October which started in Pak Beng with a ride on a truck to the border but this ride was a one-time deal. From the ferry crossing it's about 40 km to Muang Ngeun on a newly paved road and then it's another 3 km to the Lao Immigration checkpoint. Then a 1 km walk to the Thai Immigration checkpoint. From there we can catch a public minivan bus to Nan which is slow and takes maybe 1.5 hours due to a couple security checkpoints on the way which slows things down.

#3 LaoNow has been a member since 14/5/2010. Posts: 38

Posted by nanguesthouse on 15/2/2013 at 08:20

Hello everyone,

We run the Nan Guest house and had many similar questions about this less travelled route. Since more than two years the border crossing from Thailand to Laos at Huay Kon in Nan has been opened for international crossing, however transport can still be a bit of a gamble sometimes.
We did the trip last week to gather the latest info and hope this post will help anyone who reads this and our guest on their trip on this very interesting and less travelled route to and from Nan.

Here is the section from our information book (please check our website for some pics and maps as well

Thai Laos Bordercrossing Huay Kon

Opening hours: 9u00 to 12u00 and 13u00 to 17u00;
Laos Visa on Arrival (30 days), requirements (as per February 2013):
* Your original passport with at least 6 months of remaining validity and a blank page for a visa stamp;
* A Visa application form, filled and signed by the applicant (available at visa booth);
*Two (2) recent passport-type photographs;
* Visa fee (depending on Nationality): 30-45 USD (or 1000-1500 THB)

IMPORTANT:Information might have changed, check the latest requirements online!

Note: At the moment it's not allowed to cross theborder from Thailand to Laos with a motorbike. You can check the forums on on the latest experiences.

Please note that paying in Thai Baht will often cost you more then USD. If you don't have USD you can exchange at most larger banks in Nan; Expect to pay additional "overtime fee" (app 100THB) on the Laos side of the border if you cross during the weekend ;

The national currency of Laos in Kip. In the Laos border town of Muang Ngeun you can safely exchange baht or dollars to kip oruse the ATM at one of the banks next to the bus station; In most of western Laos you can pay with Baht as well but most shops use a fixed exchange rate of 1Baht to 250Kip, so if the exchange rate is higher it's cheaper to pay in kip.

Transport and routes Thailand (Nan) - Laos(Sayaboury/ Luang Prabang )

There are minibuses in the morning (04.55; 07:50 and 09:00) from Nan Bus station to Huay Kon, the Thai-Laos border crossing. These take app. 3 hours. You can't make a reservation, so we advise you to be early to guarantee a seat.
To cross the border from the Thai to the Laos side you can walk (app. 2km down and uphill) or take a motorbike taxi (if available, 20THB) at the bus stop;

On the Laos side you will need to take the Song teaw(20-40THB/pp) to the Laos border town Muang Ngeun. You might have to spend the night here (there are a couple of guest houses) if you want some of the connections that leave early morning.
From Muang Ngeun you can continue your journey by SongTaew/Jumbo/Minivan to:

Pak Beng (app 60km bumpy road, 35,000kip), departs at 9amfrom the bus station (near the market). Here you can connect to:
- Boats downstream to Tha Suang and Luang Prabang or upstream to Huay Xai ;
- Bus to the North of Laos (Oudomxay)
Hong Sa /Tha Suang (app. 45km, good road, 25.000kip),here you can connect to:
- Tha Suang: Boats downstream to Luang Prabang or upstream to Pak Beng and Huay Xai; !Please note that this is the boat coming from Pak Beng and might already be full and the only seat left will be on the floor.
- Hongsa: Daily Minivan to Sayaboury (70,000kip, 3hr good road with nice views), here you can connect to busses to Luang Prabang or Vientianne;
- Planned: Hongsa-Luang Prabang direct bus (when road works are finished, app. 100.000kip)
Note: In Hongsa the new big power station is buils and changes are happening quickly!
- Daily minivan to Sayabouly (90,000kip, 4hr good road with nice views) , here you can connect to busses to Luang Prabang or Vientianne;

NOTE: Bus schedules and availability in Laos is flexible, especially during low season. Busses can and will leave when full before or after scheduled departure! So be early, wait and it might mean you will miss your connection and are forced to stay overnight at any of the connections points, so allow time for this in your schedule. (Alternatively youmight be able to get a ride with locals for the same (or less) as you would payfor the bus ticket).

The slow boat to Luang Prabang from Pak Beng departs every morning (at app 8am), stops 1.5 hour later at Tha Suang and will take intotal app. 8 hours (440THB/110.000kip, tickets sold on the boat). There is also a speedboat that takes app. 3 hours (1500 THB), but this is a bumpy and noisy ride. The slow boat is the same boat as starts in Huay Xai at the northern border crossing to Chiang Rai and might have had a full load of tourists brought into Pak Beng the previous day, however the system is based on firstserved, so it helps to be early to get good seats for the leg to Luang Prabang.

So to summarize, if you like to go from Nan to LuangPrabang (or visa versa) you have three main options:

1. Cross the border to Muang Ngeun early and take the songtaew/Jumbo to Pak Beng (2hr, 35.000kip) and stay one night. If the bus has left already you can try to hitch a ride or stay one night in Muang Ngeun. In Pak Beng take the slow boat (7-8hr., depart, 110.000kip) to Luang Prabang.

2. Cross the border to Muang Ngeun, take the Song teaw/Jumbo to Hongsa and stay overnight. The next morning take the Song Teaw/Jumbo to Tha Suang (about 1.30 hr. 25.000kip). From Tha Suang you can take the slow boat (6-7hr., depart 10am, 110.000kip) to Luang Prabang.

3. Cross the border (early) to Muang Ngeun, take theminivan to Sayaboury (70.000kip). If you're in time for the 2pm bus you can continue the same day to Luang Prabang (60,000kip, reservation required), elsethere is an 8am bus the next morning.

Hope it helps (a bit), have a great trip and maybe wecan welcome you at the Nan Guest House one day to hear all about it!

Ratha & Tom

#4 nanguesthouse has been a member since 17/10/2007. Posts: 1

Posted by Captain_Bob on 15/2/2013 at 09:09

"At the moment it's not allowed to cross the border from Thailand to Laos with a motorbike"

I legally took a Thai-registered motorbike over that border in September 2009 with the standard customs forms. Has it since become a no-go?
Photos here

#5 Captain_Bob has been a member since 27/5/2006. Location: Thailand. Posts: 1,954

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