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Tuesday, June 19, 2012

How to Get There: Luang Prabang to Chiang Khong

 
 For those who can do nothing for hours,
this is the trip for you!
While most travellers tend to make this journey
in the opposite direction (meaning from Thailand to Laos)
The directions are pretty much the same except in reverse order...

With a little research, it quickly becomes evident that most travellers
advice against taking the fastboat to traverse the Mekong river
Mostly out of fear of losing hearing or life...
I saw very few fast boats on my ride,
and during rainy seasons recommend the nicely sheltered slowboat
as opposed to being open to the forces and whims of mother nature

At Luang Prabang, you'd need to find your way to the jetty,
It is a small turn off behind the Royal Palace on Khem Khong Road 
(acording to google maps anyway)
Step up to the ticketing booth
and just tell them which direction you want to go
 
 a quick look and you'll see the pricing next to the counter...
and like most Asian attractions, 
there is a double standard for locals and foreigners
 Once you've payed your fee,
prepared to board the boat
 and to pace yourself for a 9 hour journey
before you see sight of Pak Beng village
 Unfortunately for you,
this place is a must for a stopover,
while travelling the river
(unless you risk the speedboats)
 It seems like this village only exists to house travellers
As every building was either a guesthouse or a restaurant
Feel free to decide where you wish to rest your head
and don't get pressured by the hoardes of walking billboards,
no matter how pretty the package :)
the prices were a bit high than I expected 
but as with the rest of Laos still cheap.
at this crossroad, most of the guesthouses are at the back
(meaning my back when I took this photo)
while newer ones are located on the right pathway shown here
(left goes back to the jetty)
 So after a night of rest,
get up early to catch the next boat to Houay Xai (about 8:30 a.m.)
(don't catch the wrong way heading back to Luang Prabang :p)
the ticket for the boat was paid after boarding the boat
The next half of the journey is said to take 7-8 hours
although in my case it took more than 10
which I suspect was on purpose...
 so even though my destination was in sight
 I was left stranded in Houay Xai another night
as the immigration closes at 6:00 p.m.

When the time comes to cross the Mekong to Chiang Khong,
walk (from the drop off point will take you no more than 15 minutes)
 or a tuk tuk will take you to this point
 The entrance to the temple is directly opposite the lane
where you walk down to the immigration on the left hand side
(on the right if you're coming from the boats)
  After that, just pay the 40 baht and board the small "ferry"
that will take you across to Chiang Khong
 Where you walk inwards
 Where once again you go through the immigration process
in a cute little booth located on the left
(for those leaving... it is on the opposite side of the road,
which would be on your left as well :p)
From here on, you can make your way to any destination you want
after you make your way to the town of Chiang Khong itself
from here I headed to Chiang Rai
though most may head to Chiang Mai

Pretty simple instructions I'd say?...
But here's a short summary:
 
Route: Luang Prabang - Pak Beng
Cost: 110,000 kip
Estimated travel time: 9 hours
 
Route: Pak Beng - Houay Xai
Cost: 110,000 kip
Estimated travel time: 9 hours
 
Route: Houay Xai - Chiang Khong
Cost: 40 baht / 10,000 kip
Estimated travel time: 2 minutes

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