We are flying into Bangkok on 8th April but want to spend most of our time in North Laos. What is the best way to get there? I was thinking of flying to Chiang Rai and then getting the bus to the border. This costs about 2800 THB each on Air Asia, which is a bit more than we want to spend. Is there a better way? We would prefer to get there are quickly as possible.
Flying to Chiang Rai will definitely be the fastest option.
Alternatively, you could take a night train to Chiang Mai, allowing you to move while sleeping. It takes about 12 hrs and costs about 900 baht a person for a 2nd aircon sleeper. From Chiang Mai, it is some 5 hrs to the border by minivan, I'm guessing it is about 200-250 baht a person.
A cheaper variant of the non-flying option would be a night bus from Bangkok, there may even be direct buses to Chiang Rai. These will definitely be cheaper than the train (think around 500 baht), but I suppose they're also less comfortable.
#2 Sneek has been a member since 13/3/2008. Posts: 1
Last year (March) I took the night bus from BKK to Chiang Khong, right on the Laos border. It leaves the Northern Bus Terminal around 7 pm and arrives at 7 am. Very comfortable (reclining seats, leg rest, some drinks, some food). I paid 634 Baht. From the bus terminal in Chiang Khong it's a 5 minute tuk-tuk drive to the border, which opens at 8 pm (or even a bit earlier). After the paperwork, you take the boat across the Mekong to Huay Xai (5 min.). Visum and money exchange available on arrival. To get to the Northern Bus Terminal in BKK just take the BTS (Skytrain) to Mo Chit station and then a taxi (make sure you got the Thai name for Northern Bus Terminal on a piece of paper for the taxi driver).
#3 JoHe59 has been a member since 22/8/2006. Posts: 21
By Northern Loas , you mean North of Luang Nam Thai excluding Luang Prabang. If so, I think, BKK/Chiangrai/Chiang Khong is best. But when I did Luang Nam THai/Hua Xia/ Chiang Khong in Dec 2006, 60% of the road was laterite as the Chinese Government was still building the road . It was no joy -ride. However if your ultimate destination is Luang Prabang, slow boat from Hua Xai is an option but can be boring. However, from BKK you can take the night train to Nong Khai ( near Udon Thani) and then cross over to Vientiane. There you should be able to take bus North to Luang Prabang or fly. But never take the public bus, especially in the North ! I did,and it was more a cargo bus then a passenger bus !
#4 KPTham1 has been a member since 26/9/2006. Posts: 52
#4: i did the Huayxai-Luang Namtha road in Dec 2006 too. seems that work on it has since been completed & travel times of ~4 hours (without breakdowns) have been reported.
We flew from BKK to Chiang Rai with Airasia for $36 USD because we had a very limited amount of time. We then caught a local bus to Chiang Khong for a pittance & stayed overnite before crossing into Laos.
I think your budget & timeframe defines your mode of transport, if you're in a hurray, catch a flight etc.
#7 shelld has been a member since 23/12/2007. Posts: 16