We've heard, second hand, of a confirmed independent crossing at the Thailand/Laos border crossing at Ban Huay Kon / Muang Ngoen.
The border had been open for ages to Thais doing 4WD "adventure tours" up to Luang Prabang but we’d been told by the TAT that "there were no plans whatsoever for the crossing to be opened to foreigners at any time in the foreseeable future".
So we assume somebody changed their mind!
What this means is that after spending time exploring Ban Huay Kon, you can cross at Ban Huay Kon, head north to the village of Hong Sa and jump aboard a slow boat heading either south to Luang Prabang or north to Pak Beng and Huay Xai — what a terrific new way to enter Laos!
As I mentioned, we got this news second hand (a couple of European backpackers related their trip to a friend of ours while on the slow boat in early May, 2008), so it comes with no guarantees whatsoever and our agent on the boat forgot to ask then if visa-on-arrival was available... just can't get good help these days!
If you cross here, please file a report in this thread.
#1 somtam2000 has been a member since 21/1/2004. Location: Indonesia. Posts: 7,789
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The crossing is now open to foreigners, but it is not visa on arrival. You need to get the Laos visa in Bangkok. Apparently, a Nan travel operator is planning to run a boat from the nearest point on the Mekong down to Luang Prabang - a six hour trip as against the current two day trip from Chiang Khong.
#2 peterdavids has been a member since 2/9/2009. Posts: 1
This is now a full border crossing with visa on arrival in Laos. There is considerable construction work taking place (December 2012) on the Thai side for new immigration and customs offices, so the government is obviously anticipating a growth in border traffic. There is an excellent new road from Muang Ngoen down to Hongsa, with mini van transport available for hire at the Muang Ngoen bus station. From Hongsa, there are both river and road transport options to Luang Prabang.
#3 robdale has been a member since 1/12/2012. Posts: 4