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Recommended stops Chiang Mai to Nong Khai?

Posted by catnip on 25/1/2013 at 03:11

Hello everybody [img]smileys/smile.gif[/img]

I'm a long time reader, first time poster - I love the forum and it has been such a help planning my trip! And, greedy as I am, I'm looking for some more advice [img]smileys/wink.gif[/img]

I'm planning to head from Chiang Mai to Nong Khai where I want to cross the border into Laos and was wondering, if anyone had some ideas for "stop overs" along the way?

So far I've been thinking about going from Chiang Mai to Nan (or maybe Soppong) but that's as far as I got.

Also, is Udon Thani worth a "longer" stay (1 night) or should I just hop on the bus to Nong Khai once I'm there?

I can take my time traveling to Nong Khai (about 7 days) and I'm not much of a party person - I'm more into sight seeing and markets.

Thanks in advance [img]smileys/smile.gif[/img]

#1 catnip has been a member since 25/1/2013. Posts: 3

Posted by Captain_Bob on 25/1/2013 at 05:16

I've done this drive more times than I care to think of. To be honest it's pretty boring if via the main route by bus instead of side-trips with your own wheels. Going via Nan is much more scenic and interesting, and the way from Nan to Loei, depending on which route you take can be really nice, but will depend on how you go (bus,car,bike). Loei is a good place to break the journey. A favourite diversion is to take the road north from there and follow the Mekong on scenic route 211 to Nong Khai, but I don't think public buses go all the way through. Chiang Khan is a lovely little Mekong-side town with a scattering of homestay type guesthouses right along the rivers edge. Pak Chom and Sangkhom also are nice little towns with a few very basic guesthouses. It's just a matter of getting a bus/ride which you could enquire about in Chiang Khan.

#2 Captain_Bob has been a member since 27/5/2006. Location: Thailand. Posts: 1,951

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Posted by catnip on 25/1/2013 at 07:29

Great, thank you so much for the reply :)

I'll head to Nan then, and Loei. I'll be doing the journey by bus/train so I'll guess I just see which of these little towns I'll reach.

Thanks again :)

#3 catnip has been a member since 25/1/2013. Posts: 3

Posted by captainbkk on 27/1/2013 at 01:45

other as my namesake says, there ARE-in fact its 1 green small through bus, buses all the way along Maekong Loei-Meakong-into Nongh Khai. Older LP (yes-those maligned guidebooks by newdays folk here-very useful) had ample descriptions of the palces there. One of them is trying to become some 2nd Pai-overhyped vibe for old-style hippies etc.-sorry, forgot which one-long article in recent Thai tourist magazine.
NAN is well worth a visit, but quite a detour on buses. Trains are of no use at all over there.
Oh-and if you are the tipical todays youngkid who believes in www- NO allround info on those buses-or even at all, is to be found on www. Its simply a matter of going to the busstation (or-old trick, but seemingly also forgotten today) stay just 4-5 mins longer after arrival to check out times/links for next sector. Cheap-VERY cheap guesthss are available in all those minor towns-family atmosfere included for free.

#4 captainbkk has been a member since 16/2/2012. Posts: 472

Posted by Tilapia on 27/1/2013 at 05:10


If you want to go to Chiang Khan, head to Loei on the bus. I believe the one you'll want is Uttaradit-Phitsanulok-Loei-Udon Thani. You can get on in Phitsanulok, though, if you want to take the train there. It will probably be crowded, and there's usually a rush to the bus door. It's quite the scene. Just so you know, be prepared to stand for a while. Then hop off in Loei. From Loei there are lots of songthaews and buses to Chiang Khan. I don't recommend going there on a weekend. If you do, make sure you call ahead and make a reservation somewhere. The Chiang Khan Guest House is a nice spot and doesn't charge too much, and Pim, the owner, is a really nice lady.

Chiang Khan has been heavily "renovated" over the last 4 years, but at least it's been done nicely. It's still worth a night as far as I'm concerned. If you want to skip Chiang Khan, you can get one of three of the green buses that make the trip between Loei and Nong Khai . They're old clunkers, but they will get you there. From Loei the trip takes about 6 hours. I would recommend a night in Pak Chom, and definitely in Sangkhom. But, depending on when you get to Loei, you may either want to spend a night there, or head up to Chiang Khan.

So you know, there is no public transport between Chiang Khan and Pak Chom. There used to be, but it's been stopped due to lack of demand. In my opinion, this is the most attractive area of the Mekong River in all of Thailand. If you go to Chiang Khan, you may want to see about hiring a taxi or a samlor or something to take you to Pak Chom. If you want to continue to Nong Khai from Chiang Khan, it is going to mean going all the way back to Loei, or heading to Loei and hopping off the bus/songthaew in a village called Ban That, where you will have to wait for that green bus to stop and pick you up.

If you've got time and don't want to hire a taxi or some other form of hired transport, then I would recommend renting a motorbike and making the return trip between Chiang Khan and Pak Chom sometime in the afternoon.

The distance between Chiang Khan and Pak Chom is about 45 km. You could probably get a taxi to take you for a few hundred baht.

It's a great area. Hope you get to see it.

#5 Tilapia has been a member since 21/4/2006. Location: Canada. Posts: 1,521
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Posted by catnip on 28/1/2013 at 03:00

Wow, thank you guys so much for all the information!

@captainbkk Yes, I'm one of the www kids but I've already figured out that you can forget the mighty www when it comes to bus schedules ;)

@Tilapia You made me bring out the maps again :) I'm leaving Chiang Mai on a Saturday, so I guess some booking must be done. Thank you for all your input, I haven't really thought about going to Sangkhom but if you think it's wort a night I might just spend one there.

I let you guys know which route I ended up taking - luckily I still have some more days left to do the planning.

#6 catnip has been a member since 25/1/2013. Posts: 3

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