I just found out this information on the hobo's web site and would like to know if anyone has any update on when/if this direct bus from Chiang Rai to Luang Namtha starts running? thank you
- A new bridge over the Mekong about 10 km south of the current immigration checkpoints is finished and scheduled to open later in 2013. It's far outside of the towns on both sides and will provide options to cross the border and completely avoid Chiang Khong and Huay Xay. A direct bus from Chiang Rai to Luang Namtha would only take about 5 hours driving time on excellent roads all the way. An hour at the bridge clearing immigration would make it a 6 hour trip.
I doubt there will be a "direct" bus service. Probably will have to switch buses at the border and almost certainly will make other stops along the way for locals.
If no one on here knows try emailing a couple guesthouses in Chiang Khong/Huay Xai asking about it and one of them should be able to help.
My wife and I traveled from Chiang Rai to Luang Namtha on December 24, 2014 and there seems to be two bus options:
1) You go to the 'old bus station' in Chiang Rai near the night market (i.e. the station where you would arrive if you were taking a bus from Chiang Mai). There, we were told to buy a ticket to Chiang Khong at the Thai border, and then you switch to a different bus across the Lao border to Huay Xai. We opted not to do this given it was less direct route and we were trying to do this trip as quickly as possible.
2) Our hotel in Chiang Rai told us to go the NEW bus station just on the outskirts of Chiang Rai and there (and ONLY there) you can get a DIRECT bus from Chiang Rai to Luang Namtha (it continues all the way to Luang Prabang fyi). Look for this bus-company logo when you arrive:
I would advise buying your ticket 1-2 days in advance.
The bus is pretty comfortable and it 1) takes you to the Thai border where you get off and present your Thai arrival/departure card that you received when you entered Thailand (make sure you hold onto this!!); 2) then you get back on the bus and cross to the Lao side and fill out a Lao visa (some people seem to do this in advance). The Lao side isn't super organized, but if you ask you'll be directed to first fill out a Lao visa form and then you wait on two lines to present the completed form and pay $35 USD; 3) you get back on the bus and it takes you to Luang Namtha.
If you have any questions, message me and I'll be happy to help.
#3 arodin has been a member since 18/1/2015. Posts: 3