We had researched various ways in which to do the border crossing on various forums etc and one of the most straight forward routes was from Chiang Rai through to Chiang Khong and then cross the river over to Huay Xai (Laos). This can be done in either one day and then jump straight onto the slow boat down the Mekong to Luang Prabang or you can stay the night in Chiang Khong (Thailand) or Huay Xai (Laos), both border towns and then catch the slowboat in the morning, with less hassle and more ease, from what we had heard! Obviously we opted for the less stressful and fail safe option of staying the night in Huay Xai, mainly because once you have got through immigration etc (which takes about 15-20 minutes each side, depending on how much they like you) the slow boat tickets are cheaper on the Laos side!! Well worth the trip.
As it was the day after my birthday, we had decided to treat ourselves (me) to a UTV (dune buggie) experience in the mountains surrounding Chaing Rai, somewhere inbetween Chaing Rai and Chiang Khong. Therefore making our drop off Chiang Khong instead of back to Chiang Rai, once we were done. We packed up our bags early in the morning and got ourselves all psyched up for a morning of muddy dune buggying (thanks to the rain storm the night before). Once fed and ready to roll, we went to meet our driver, who would take us across to the outdoor activity centre, where we would set off from. within minutes of us finding each other, the heavens opened and out here when its rains……it pours!! A 10minute rain shower dropped enough rain to flood all of the streets and bring everything to a grinding hault, especially whizzing scooters.
Once we set off, we were lucky enough (sarcasm) to have a driver who was a stereo typical essex boy and by that i mean wouldn’t shut up, was obviously a multi millionaire (picking people up in a nissan march) his word not ours and loved nothing more than telling you how amazing he was. This was semi bearable until we were dropped with the news from his boss, that we wouldn’t be able to get up the hill to even start the UTV ride, thanks to the road being flooded and as the essex boy had opted for a nissan march, we were screwed. Sods law really, as i had pulled the guy as soon as we saw the car and said out of all the cars and pickups in Thailand, you opt for this, which he cockily replied ‘i don’t need a pickup’!!! YOU WORK IN A OUTDOOR CENTRE!!!
So we then had no option but to head onto Chiang Khong and make the border crossing a little bit earlier, which was fine as a) the driver was happy to take us at no extra cost since our trip had been cancelled and we were already halfway and b) we would get to sort our boat ticket and explore Huay Xai without rushing. After leaving the essex boy and his Thai/Burmese (he wasn’t sure) ‘girlfriend’, we strolled down to the Thai immigration office and got ourselves stamped out of Thailand (boooooo). It was an easy process and apart from a few Thais laughing at my huge bag, as they all had carry ons, everything went fine. We then jumped on a tiny boat about 2ft wide to cross the Mekong and hit immigration for Laos.
Laos immigration was fine as well, after filling out or necessary forms, handing over 1 x passport picture and paying the fee of 1500Baht each, we strolled on through to Laos, oh and not forgetting the random ‘official entry’ man who checks everything is OK, once your halfway up the hill, sitting on a plastic seat in a bamboo hut!! Welcome to Laos i guess.
We took a short stroll along the road and after a few ‘room visits’ and price negotiations, we found a little guesthouse so we could bed down for the night. Once we dropped our bags, we were immediately met with a sign in our guesthouse which showed after crossing the Mekong we already managed to save 800Baht each and that was without haggling, well worth the easy crossing.
After a walk to the official slow boat pier and noticing the ticket office was closed, we decided to book through our own guesthouse for 900Baht/250,000kip each as they sorted us a tuk tuk to the pier in the price too, which others didn’t. Once we were all sorted, we went for a wander and all in all had a stress free crossing, which from what i read, the same can’t be said for doing everything in one day.
—Stay Classy World—ACastling—