Photo: Classic scenery surrounds Vang Vieng.

Laos forum

Crossing from Northern Thailand

Posted by Cindynyc on 24/1/2017 at 10:44

Hello To all,

I am planning on entering Laos from Chaing Rai. Is there a direct bus route? Or do I have to make any transfers?

I am planing on visiting (with only a weeks time) Luang Prang(3 days), Viang vang (3 days) and Vientiane (2days). From there I am going to Hanoi, Vietnam.

The biggest problem so far is entering from Chaing Rai and exiting from Vientiane into Hanoi.

Any input will help;)



Queens, N.Y.

#1 Cindynyc has been a member since 24/1/2017. Posts: 3

Skip the queues!
Skip the queues!
Ad Book plane, train, bus & ferry tickets
with 12Go Asia.

Read more

Posted by mikal83 on 24/1/2017 at 13:49

Take a bus to Chiang Khong and take a taxi across the border to HX. Boat down the river to LP, bus to VV and down to Vient.....

#2 mikal83 has been a member since 19/1/2015. Location: United Kingdom. Posts: 140
 Send mikal83 a private message   Where has mikal83 been? 

Agoda coupon: Get an extra 7% off selected properties with the coupon code

Posted by DLuek on 25/1/2017 at 07:14 TF writer

From Chiang Rai province you'll be using the Chiang Khong / Huay Xai crossing, which is a popular one. On the Lao side you can choose between slowboat, speedboat or bus to reach Luang Prabang -- plan on a solid full-day of travel regardless of which you choose (the slowboats are very popular with travelers). Transport details here:

Once in Luang Prabang it's simple enough to catch a bus down to Vang Vieng and ditto from there to Vientiane -- both of those trips are around 6 hours.

Vientiane to Hanoi ... Well Vientiane is on the Thai border so it's practically as far away from Hanoi as you can get in Laos. The only option if you have time restraints is to fly, which is expensive.

If you're planning to do this whole trip overland then you should rearrange it. In my opinion one week is not enough time to comfortably go from Chiang Rai to Luang Prabang to Vang Vieng to Vientiane when factoring in the travel days.

#3 DLuek has been a member since 19/6/2008. Location: Thailand. Posts: 1,339
 Send DLuek a private message   Twitter   Instagram 

Posted by Captain_Bob on 25/1/2017 at 20:58

"Luang Prang(3 days), Viang vang (3 days) and Vientiane (2days)"

Does this include travel time? Because Chiang Rai to Luang Prabang by bus and/or boat will take 2-3 days, then bus to Vang Vieng up and over the mountain pass about 7 hours, then to Vientiane another 4+ hours. So factor this in and you're left with 1-2 days in each place. Still worthwhile but get real about slow transport in Laos.

"The biggest problem so far is entering from Chaing Rai and exiting from Vientiane into Hanoi "

No real problem, you just have to be patient and allow time for delays and adversity (welcome to the 3rd world). Getting over the bridge at Chiang Khong is fairly straightforward, then take the next bus or boat heading to LP (12-hour bumpy bus, 2-day slow boat, or 7-hour speed boat). From Vientiane to Hanoi you can either take the 24-hour hell bus (arrives at border in the middle of the night then sits there for hours until border opens, with no food drink toilet explanation etc.) or bite the bullet and grab a 1-hour flight.

#4 Captain_Bob has been a member since 27/5/2006. Location: Thailand. Posts: 1,955

Posted by Cindynyc on 26/1/2017 at 08:56

sucks, but I am on a time constraint

#5 Cindynyc has been a member since 24/1/2017. Posts: 3

Posted by SoManyMiles on 27/1/2017 at 11:11 TF writer

To second what DLuek said, one week is not enough time to cover Chiang Rai to Vientiane . You would spend almost all that time in transit.

For one week I would suggest you can take the slow boat/bus from Huay Xai to Luang Prabang , spend all your available time in Luang Prabang including day trips, then fly to Hanoi. Or fly Chiang Mai to Luang Prabang, spend a rushed few days there and in Vang Vieng, then fly Vientiane to Hanoi. I would personally recommend the first option because even the second option packs in a lot into one week.

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

Posted by exacto on 27/1/2017 at 11:51

Hi Cindy,
If I were you, I would listen carefully to the advice of DLuek, Captain_Bob, and SoManyMiles above. All three have travelled the routes you propose extensively, know their way around Southeast Asia with a backpack, and understand perfectly how slow travel is in Laos and how much time it takes to move around.
Your trip has a built-in time constraint, so you can't change that, but what you do have control over is your itinerary. Think carefully about either flying from Chiang Mai to Luang Prabang to give yourself extra time in Luang Prabang and Vang Vieng ; or skipping Vang Vieng and Vientiane so you can fly directly from Luang Prabang to Hanoi. Otherwise, like the others suggest, you will be too rushed to enjoy yourself and will only have time for the most pedestrian look at Luang Prabang.
I hope that helps. Good luck and have a wonderful time. Cheers.

#7 exacto has been a member since 12/2/2006. Location: United States. Posts: 2,789
 Send exacto a private message   Where has exacto been? 

Please login to add a reply

You need to be a Travelfish member to be able to add a reply to this post. Please use the button below to log in. After logging in you'll be returned to this page automatically to add your post. Not a member? Join up here.