The border crossing between China and Laos was fairly easy. There is a direct bus [more than one] from Kunming to Mengla. It cost me Y204 for the overnight sleeper although i think a day time option exists also.
Once in Mengla there are various options and it seems they depend mostly on luck! We were messed around for awhile [i was even with a mandarin speaker]. At first there was only a direct Luang Nam tha bus at 10:40 [it was 7:20am] but then we were told by some...i can only describe him as a tout with excellent english that there was a 9am from anther station. Long story short we were then told it was not on and would have to wait [by the tout]. He then told us that because there were enough people to fill the bus [more had turned up] then it would now set off at 9am as planned. It cost Y46 and probably took about 2-3 hours including border time [a total guess though].
The China side was fine. My passport says i was born in Newcastle [UK] and it turned out the guy on the border was a fan. He was dissapointed that i didnt live there. No one had a problem on this occaision although a friend of mine had it bag emptied and passport checked about 10 times before being let through.
Laos side was just as easy for me. Pay $37 and get a stamp. Hopped back on our bus and off we went. The nationalities crossing the border [that i know of] and with no problem included Israeli, Australian, German, UK, Japanese and Chinese.
At the moment Luang Nam that is cloudy with a good breeze yet still quite humid. Overall good weather for me. I'm staying at the Zuela guesthouse just of the main street. A 3 bed room is 70,000kip, a twin is between 50 and 70 [bargain]. I am in a double by myself but because it has no ensuit bathroom [its only for my room but is across the hall] it costs 40,000 [4.96 dollars]. I think travelling alone is more expensive in Laos because of a lack of Hostels but perhaps this is balanced out by the cheap cost of meals etc
At the moment i think it is low season, as such, there are hardly any people signed up to treks. This effectively has meant i cannot go on one in Luang Nam Tha as it is too expensive.
No rain yet although it looks as though it might tonight
I already have a blog so don't intend for this to be the same but thought things like transport, accodation, trekking would be useful for other people too.
is this kind of thing helpful? let me know.
p.s. Zuela guesthouse rooms are nice and new, good beds with fans. The fans are good at keeping the temperature down, although maybe not during the hotter months. The showers are hot [not warm] and are fairly powerful. Everything is very clean. At the moment they are building a restaurant next door but the nois doesnt start too early or end too late.
Staff are friendly with good english. The only negative is that i had to wait half an hour to get into my room as there was no one at reception to give me my key [i swapped rooms].
p.p.s the other bus option would be to get a bus to Mohan. There were various coaches/taxis willing to do this. I know some guys who did took this option afew days before me and said it was very easy
Luang Nam Tha region bus timetable [taken from Muang Sing tourism office]
if it doesnt work just let me know
you may need to save and zoom in
More later but for now, just been on 2 day trek in Muang Long. Was fantastic if a little more tiring that expected due to some unforceen circumstances!
Thanks for the pics! Have worked them into the arriving and departing sections for Muang Sing and Luang Nam Tha.
#7 somtam2000 has been a member since 21/1/2004. Location: Indonesia. Posts: 7,789
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