Im looking for advice on getting from Chiang Mai to the Chong mek border with Laos. Id quite like to make a stop or two along the way and see the places that are less touristy! Having done a bit of reading, im still not really sure where to stop. I can see that I can get a bus straight from ubon ratchathani to pakse which stops for immigration at the border. This would be fine for me.
where else would people suggest I stop? Is the bus the way to go? And how about a sleeper bus for any of it?
if it helps, im backpacking and have a budget of around 500baht a day.
#1 jennie2102 has been a member since 1/10/2013. Posts: 7
There are 101 ways to do the trip. Of course you can bus it the whole way which is the cheapest option. Hopefully you have time to go slowly. Take the northerly route, go to Loei, Nong Khai, Nakhon Phanom, That Phanom, Mukdahan, Kong Chiam, Ubon (follow the Mekong more or less). Or get down to Ayutthaya or Khorat then bus it east to Buriram, Surin, Si Saket, etc. Maybe veer off the path to Phi Mai and Phanom Rung historical sites. Or right down the middle Sukhothai or Phitsanulok then Lom Sak, Khon Kaen, Kalasin, Roi Et, Ubon. I've done all of the above by bus, car, motorbike and they all have their merits. If pressed I'd probably favor the Mekong route. Happy travels. 500 baht/day? Crikey! Look for 3rd class open window cheapest buses and eat at local markets and food stalls. Brush up on your Thai (numbers, directions, food, etc.) almost no English spoken out there.
Thanks so much for the detailed advice!
I would like to spend around 4 days getting from CM to the border, so I think green bus/sleeper services might be needed.
I've been in Thailand a month now and seem to be doing ok on this budget! It doesn't have to be stuck to exactly, I was just trying to give people an idea of what kind of places I need to stay in (hostels). Id rather spend more on a quicker bus rather than less on a 3rd class. If you had to pick 2 or 3 places to stay at on the meekong route, where would you suggest?
#3 jennie2102 has been a member since 1/10/2013. Posts: 7
I would add a second vote for the Mekong route.
From CM you could head down to Uttaradit or Phitsanulok/Sukhothai for one night. I'd go to the latter, but Uttaradit is definitely not very touristy if that's what you're looking for. Both places have inexpensive places to stay.
Get a bus, as Captain Bob said, to Loei (it will be the bus to Udon Thani and makes stops in Phitsanulok, Dan Sai, and Loei - and probably a few other places) - then on to Udon Thani.
From Loei, north to Chiang Khan by bus or songthaew, or up to Pak Chom on one of those rickety buses, then on to Nong Khai . From there you can just keep going along the river through Phon Phisai, Bueng Kan, Ban Phaeng, Nakhon Phanom, That Phanom, Mukdahan, and then Ubon.
The bus from Phitsanulok to Loei is usually packed. If you end up standing, it will be for about 5 hours and you'll miss some spectacular scenery. From Loei to Nong Khai on one of those green buses you'll be looking at around 5-6 hours.
If you go to Chiang Khan, which is a really nice little town, make sure you're not there on a weekend or holiday. Also, last time I was there, there was no public transport going east to Pak Chom, about 45 km away. Shame because it's a stunning stretch of river. If you do go to Chiang Khan, it would be worth it to hire someone to drive you to Pak Chom. From there you can get a bus east and continue on towards Nong Khai and beyond. If you end up in Chiang Khan and want to get a lift to Pak Chom, Pim at the Chiang Khan Guest House will be able to help you out. She's great!
My top three stops along the river would be in Sangkhom, Nong Khai, and That Phanom, with Chiang Khan and Bueng Kan running closely behind. While in the area, I'd also be sure to spend a couple of days in Khong Chiam rather than make a straight run to Pakse. It's about 50 km north of Chong Mek. A beautiful place.
a few facts:
1.TH has NO sleeper buses the same style as VNam/CHina has a aplenty-or Laos now a few. What the Thai call rot nawn=sleep bus, is with much reclining seats, the best of bisnis in a plane.
2.greenbus ONLY runs in the very north of TH-thus is of little use to you
3.most-at least90%, of bus info is NOT online-which in fact also means the eternal fright of todays youngees is true: you cannot get much advacne info, nor will be able to prebook, nor can get it on your ikspinsif new all-sing+dance fone. The Thai can live with it-thus with some pressure you may be able to adapt. In fact a lot of maybe a little outdated, but still valuable bus info is in that hated thing here: a good old guidebook. Which also has all the info captainnorth has told you above.
4.CMai HAS a daily direct overnite deluxe bus to Ubon, taking some 18-20 hrs, and many to Khorat, the gateway into Isan with connections all over. For the best comfort- go via BKK-this is becse you can get the best buses that run mostly nonstop-the cross-country buses serve all the underway stops and thus wait long times and also have people getting off/on all the time. BKK also has direct buses to ChMek.
5.THIS south part of Laos seems to be esp. hard hit by recent floods-be prepared for diversions and wading across.
(and what Tilapia describes as ''stunning'' here above-well-leave that to her/him, IMHO its just slightly above average. THese things always depend o what you have seen already or how ''awsome'' you tend to find anything that differs from home).
#6 captainbkk has been a member since 16/2/2012. Posts: 472
I appreciate you taking the time and patience to point out my glaring error ... and not correcting it. However ...
Loei to Nong Khai = Green Bus ... http://fr.trekearth.com/gallery/Asia/Thailand/photo637609.htm
" IMHO its just slightly above average."
-well-leave that to him/her.