I am commencing planning my 2014 bike ride from China to Thailand, and wondering if anyone has reliable news about the Jinghong-Chiang Saen ferry. I understand that it stopped running following a number of incidents on the Mekong in 2010 and 2011, but I am unsure if it has recommenced or if other arrangements are in place.
In particular, I have heard of people using the ubiquitous freighters that ply this route, but I am unsure of the reliability and cost, and unsure of any new administrative issues (if any).
Any information greatfully received.
Thanks you in advance
One of our writers did Huay Xai to Xieng Kok by freighter (actually a buffalo boat) which takes the same route you are talking of. They reported seeing armed men on the river bank trying to get the boat to stop -- I don't think he'd recommend it! You can read the full report here and photos of the soldiers/bandits here.
#2 somtam2000 has been a member since 21/1/2004. Location: Indonesia. Posts: 7,798
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Thank you very much for your very prompt and informative reply.
Mmm...unsure what to think. We can't cross into Burma at Rulli, and don't particularly want to revisit the road to Mengla and Mohan by bike. I remember the road from 2008, and its not the road I would cycle. None-the-less, I may need to make further enquiries about Chinese freighters that originate in Jinghong.
Last I heard it is a clandestine only operation - and most boats aren't willing to take the risk of transporting you that way (that was the story in 2010 as you said). If you can get ahold of Meimei Cafe in Jinghong they are usually a very reliable source of up-to-date information.
In 2008 they were still completing the freeway that runs to the border - I took the winding mountain two-lane in a minibus and assume that is the road you're not keen on. Not sure if the new high-way is bike accessible though - but friends who took it in 2010 said that it was pretty quick going. Again, you could ask Meimei Cafe. The only official border crossing around Xishuanbanna is the one you mentioned.
Yes, I remember the new elevated freeway very well. At the time, it resembled a giant conveyor belt leading all the way to Kunming's stoked-up smelters.
Unfortunately the Chinese do not allow foreigners-on-bicycles on their new freeways, which is probably a good thing. Cyclists are stuck with the side roads, which is fine when there is a side road.
In the meantime, I guess I'll keep my options open and look further afield.