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Laos forum

Go to Luang Nam Tha or Luang Prabang from Chiang Rai?

Posted by Legacy88 on 14/9/2015 at 05:25

I'm going to be heading into Laos from Chiang Rai in a few days. I know the traditional route is to take the slow boat to Luang Prabang from the Huay Xai crossing, but if I'm going to explore northern Laos, it seems to make more sense for me to take a bus to Luang Nam Tha first and then work my way down to Luang Prabang from there, but I'm not finding many reports from people who have done it this way. I have a month in Laos so time isn't too much of a concern, but I'd also prefer to not to be backtracking on my route. Any suggestions?

#1 Legacy88 has been a member since 22/6/2015. Location: United States. Posts: 3

Posted by Captain_Bob on 14/9/2015 at 07:12

See maps and travel info in the link above. There are plenty of guesthouses in Namtha and it's a good place to explore on bicycle and stay a few days. Surrounding rice fields will green and bursting about now. Also recommend rent a motorbike and ride to Muang Sing, good road interesting ride. Then head for Oudomxai or if you get the earliest bus from Namtha you can make Nong Khiew same day. But good you're not in a hurry =)

#2 Captain_Bob has been a member since 27/5/2006. Location: Thailand. Posts: 1,958

Posted by Muri on 14/9/2015 at 08:36

Last year in Laos I met a German couple who took a bus in Huay Xai directly to Luang Nam Tha. They said that the ride took about 4 hours and that the road was pretty good as well.

As you already may have seen, the Travelfish page about Huay Xai has a good description for this bus connection too:

To Luang Nam Tha: departs at 09:00 and 12:30, 187 km, takes 3.5 hours and costs 60,000 kip.

In hindsight I'd have done the same thing, as I didn't like the boat ride from Huay Xai to Luang Prabang that much. Northern Laos offers a lot of interesting locations if you're into nature, trekking or other outdoor activities.

As Captain Bob already suggested, go see Nong Khiaw too.

Then there's Phongsaly, Nam Et-Phou louey National Park, Sam Neua / Vieng Xai, Phonsavan and so much more...

Seriously, I could easily have spent one month more in Laos. Don't underestimate what Laos has to offer!

#3 Muri has been a member since 17/7/2015. Location: Switzerland. Posts: 11

Posted by SoManyMiles on 15/9/2015 at 14:27 TF writer

So great that you have time! We have a full update on Huay Xai , Luang Nam Tha , Muang Sing and Udomxai on Travelfish this year. Huay Xai to Luang Nam Tha is a great road. I would suggest you swing up to Muang Sing for at least a few days to explore. Then from Luang Nam Tha, you can go to Muang La via Udomxai and spend a few, before making your way up to Muang Khua and down by river to Nong Kiaow, then bus it to Luang Prabang.

You actually have a few options from Udomxai. You can go up as I suggested, or to Muang La and Phongsali, or down to Pakbeng and take the boat 1 day down to Luang Prabang. This might be the best option during rainy season as roads can be unpredictable.

Phongsali to Nam Et-Phou Louey-Sam Neua, Phonsavan is quite the journey during rainy season. It's good that you have a month during rainy season/low season as you can play it by ear.

#4 SoManyMiles has been a member since 7/2/2014. Posts: 147

Posted by Legacy88 on 17/9/2015 at 02:40

I've booked the bus from Chiang Rai to Luang Nam Tha instead of the slow boat. It only cost 500 baht from the new Chiang Rai bus station, so I was pretty happy from that. I think I'll do a few days in Luang Nam Tha and then play it by ear on where to go next. I definitely have lots of options!! I'm pretty excited for Laos...I like more laid-back places, and Laos looks very chill!

#5 Legacy88 has been a member since 22/6/2015. Location: United States. Posts: 3

Posted by Muri on 17/9/2015 at 10:20

Tell us later how your trip was and how you liked it! :)

Laos is one of those few countries I would definitely visit again for all its obscure places. Look up for example the Enduro / Motorcycle tours along the actual historic Ho Chi Minh Trail (no spam or advertising intended). I've got to do that one day!

#6 Muri has been a member since 17/7/2015. Location: Switzerland. Posts: 11

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