From Luang Prabang to Chiang Mai: An Overland Journey on the Slow Boat.

Traveling from Luang Prabang to Chiang Mai on the Slow Boat
Our overland journey from Luang Prabang to Chiang Mai on the slow boat.

Note: this post has been updated as of February, 2015. Please see those updates at the bottom of the post.

If you’re traveling from Luang Prabang, Laos, to Chiang Mai, Thailand, there are a number of options available, including flying or taking a bus and ferry combination. But if you’re not on a tight schedule and you want to do a little cruising, then taking the slow boat up the Mekong to the Laos/Thai border is a great option. The entire trip takes about 2 ½ days, but gives you the opportunity to ride the mighty Mekong, cast your eyes on some of the riverside villages, while moving you along on your travel itinerary.

Visa

Depending on how much time you plan on staying in Thailand and the method in which you enter the country, you may or may not want to apply for a visa in advance. Visas are available on arrival free of charge, but if you’re coming overland you will only be given 15 days in the country. If you fly into Thailand, you’ll get a free 30-day visa on arrival. Since we knew that we were going to spend at least 4 weeks traveling from the north to the south of the country, and because we would be entering Thailand overland, we had to apply for a visa in advance.

While we were in Vientiane, Laos, we took the time to apply at the Thai Consulate. Side note: to get a visa, you must go to the Consulate, not the Embassy. Applications for visas are accepted between the hours of 8:30am and 12pm, Monday to Friday. You need to fill out the application form, which you can get inside the Consulate (don’t listen to any of the tuk tuk drivers outside who say you can’t get one inside), provide 2 passport-sized photos, as well as a photocopy of your passport photo page and Lao visa page. If you can’t get access to a photocopier, there is one available on-site for a fee. You’ll also need to pay for your visa fee in Thai Baht (so make sure to have Thai currency on you). A 60-day visa cost us 1,000 Baht each (roughly $33 CAD).

Make sure to grab a ticket number when you first arrive, then fill out all the paperwork. When your number is called, take your documents to the window and an attendant will look at your forms and take your passport (to attach the visa to). You’ll then receive your numbered ticket back and be directed to head inside the main building of the consulate. You’ll then likely have to wait again, this time to pay. When your number is called, head to the ticket window and pay your fee. You’ll then get an official receipt.

Your visa will be ready for pickup the next day between the hours of 1pm and 3pm. Total processing time between dropping off and picking up your passport is two days; pretty quick!

Luang Prabang to Pak Beng

The first day of our journey took us from Luang Prabang to Pak Beng, roughly the halfway point to the border town of Huay Xai. We arrived at the pier at 7:30am and bought our tickets from the ticket window at a cost of 110,000 kip each (roughly $14 CAD). We were directed to our boat and quickly claimed some seats.

From Luang Prabang to Chiang Mai.
Our “home” for the next 9 hrs.

In the past, the slow boat along the Mekong was pretty much a synonym for discomfort. The lack of seats and 9 hours on the river resulted in very sore and aching bottoms. When we boarded our boat we were pleasantly surprised to see that there were in fact seats, albeit ones that looked like they belonged in passenger vans. The seats were mounted on wooden bases and could be added or removed, depending on how full the boat was. We found a set of seats that had ample legroom and stowed our bags on the floor in front of us. One crew member asked to take our bags to the back of the boat, away from our line of sight, but we insisted on keeping them with us.

During the next hour, locals and tourists alike were slowly finding their way on board. Many of the locals were transporting a lot of things, including fresh foods, bottle water, and even furniture. We had a complete living room set strapped on to the top of our boat!

Our boat was scheduled to leave at 8:30am but we didn’t pull out until about 8:50am. Luckily for us the boat wasn’t full, as it’s common for these boats to be crammed with people and cargo alike. There was sufficient room for everyone to feel comfortable.

How to travel from Chiang Mai to Luang Prabang.
The interior of our boat, enough room to get up and stretch your legs.

Cruising along the Mekong was picturesque and relaxing. Passengers were passing the time reading a book, working on laptops, listening to music, chatting with one another, or sleeping. Most of the locals seemed to opt for the latter option.

The scenery was beautiful with mountains framing the riverbanks, sharp jagged rocks jutting out of the water, sandy shorelines where children could be seen playing, fish traps set up hoping to catch the day’s dinner, and a river that twisted and turned around the corners, leaving you wondering what might appear on the other side. The days were hot and the early mornings and evenings were cool, sometimes even downright cold!

How to get from Luang Prabang to Chiang Mai.
The scenery was pretty much this all along the way.

Pak Beng

We arrived in Pak Beng at 5:30pm where a group of touts were eagerly waiting for the fresh arrival of tourists. We walked right past them and headed up the hill to shop around for a room for the night.

There’s not much to say about Pak Beng, except that it’s pretty much a dive of a place, mainly set up to cater to travelers on their stop-over going to, or from Huay Xai. You really wouldn’t want to spend more than a night here anyways.

How to get from Laos to Thailand.
There’s not much in Pak Beng, except guesthouses and restaurants catering to tourists passing through.

We popped into a bunch of guesthouses along the road and finally settled on a very basic room at Phonethip Guesthouse. The room cost us 50,000 kip for a double bed with a fan and private bathroom. Make sure to bargain with the guesthouse owners, as they’re likely to quote you a higher price to begin with, and check out the room before you agree to anything.

Pak Beng to Huay Xai

The following day we woke up bright and early and headed down to the pier at 7:30am to claim a good seat. This time we didn’t have to purchase tickets from a booth but instead paid for them on the boat. Again we paid 110,000 kip each for the second leg of our journey. Be sure to double check you’re on the right boat, so you don’t end up heading back to Luang Prabang!

We were scheduled to leave at 8:30am, but again we didn’t depart until 8:50am. We had even more elbow and legroom on the boat this time, as it was barely half full.

The journey was much of the same as the previous day; rolling mountains, sandy shorelines, a few bamboo huts perched on the slopes, and locals tending to some of their crops.

Villages in Northern Laos
We saw many children just playing on the sandbanks throughout our journey.

As we neared Huay Xai, the river had made its way right alongside Thailand, so we were now smack in the middle of the two countries. There was a noticeable difference between the two sides of the riverbanks, as the left side (Thailand) had electrical wires running along the shore, a visible paved road for trucks and cars, and larger areas cordoned off for crops.

Don’t Take the Speed Boat!

Now it’s worth pointing out that there is a high-speed boat that can do the trip in about half the time. But this option is much more risky, with tales of boats flipping and crashing, and passengers being seriously injured or worse, killed. Periodically these high-speed boats zipped passed us, but seeing the passengers sitting in cramped rows of two wearing helmets sure made us feel much happier about choosing the slow boat.

High-speed boat vs the slow boat on the Mekong.
This doesn’t look very comfortable or safe in the least! No thank you.

Huay Xai

We pulled into the dock at Huay Xai at 5:15pm. Just a stone’s throw across the river was the border of Thailand. We were almost there!

Again our first task was to find a place to stay for the night. Some people decided to try to make their way over to Thailand right away, but we didn’t want to risk the border crossing being closed (it closes at 6pm) and left with nowhere to stay.

We strapped on our packs and made our way up to the main road. In hindsight we probably should have taken the tuk tuk into town, but instead decided to walk it. We had just spent the past two days sitting on our butts for 9 hours each day; so a little exercise was welcomed. It was clear though, that after about 10 minutes we realized we had been dropped off at the dock on the far end of town instead of the dock that’s right by the city centre. But in the end it only took us 20 minutes to walk into town.

One of the passengers on the boat recommended a guesthouse called Friendship Guesthouse, so that’s where we went. We got a double room with fan, private bathroom and a TV (which we didn’t use) for 60,000 kip (roughly $7.50 CAD).

The town of Huay Xai is built up quite a bit when you compare it to Pak Beng. There was a lot more selection of guesthouses ranging from budget to high-end rooms, and a number of eateries along the main road. Besides being the border town to Thailand, Huay Xai is also the jumping point for many travelers wanting to explore North-Western Laos, including: kayaking, white-water rafter, trekking, and the popular (though over priced in our opinion) Gibbon Experience.

Border Crossing

Laos Thailand Border
Thailand is just on the other side of the river.

The next morning we bought our boat/tuk tuk/mini-bus combo tickets to take us from Huay Xia to Chiang Mai. We were brought to the Laos immigration office at 8:30am and had our exit stamps put into our passports. We then got on a small riverboat and crossed the Mekong to get to the Thailand side. Once on the other side, we first had to fill out a health questionnaire and then proceeded to the small immigration office. We filled out our arrival cards and presented our passports for inspection. The officer flirted with me a bit, so I in turn flirted back. It never hurts to put on a bright smile!

The entire process leaving Laos and entering Thailand was easy-peasy, as I like to say. We held onto our passports the entire time and there was no demand for a “stamping fee”. It was quite refreshing actually! (Note: A friend of ours told us she was charged a fee when crossing the border on a Sunday, apparently due to the fact it was a weekend.)

A small tuk tuk was waiting for us and transported the group of 5 of us to a nearby guesthouse, where we waited to pick up the mini-van that would take us to Chiang Mai. We arrived at the guesthouse around 10:30am and killed some time until our mini-van would leave at 11:30am.

Getting to Chiang Mai

The drive down to Chiang Mai was smooth and comfortable. We were immediately impressed with the quality of roads in Thailand; beautifully smooth, paved-roads, with clear traffic signs posted along the way.

The drive took a total of 4 hours, including a 30 min rest stop to eat some lunch. The mini-van dropped us off right outside the inner city walls of Chiang Mai, and we happened to be within walking distance to our guesthouse.

Although it was a long journey that lasted 2 ½ days, we had a comfortable time, got the opportunity to spend two days cruising the Mekong River, and a glimpse of village life along the river in Northern Laos.

Price Breakdown:

Boat from Luang Prabang to Pak Beng

110,000 kip x 2 people = 220,000 kip
Guesthouse at Pak Beng

50,000 kip

Boat from Pak Beng to Huay Xai

110,000 kip x 2 people = 220,000 kip

Guesthouse at Huay Xai

60,000 kip
Boat/tuk tuk/mini-van combo ticket

85,000 kip x 2 people = 170,000 kip

Total Cost:

720,000 kip (roughly $90 CAD)

 

What you need to know: The boat has washroom facilities and food for purchase on board, but pack drinks and snacks to save some cash. Wear a jacket and even a scarf in the am and pm as it gets cold! Arrive 1 hour before the boat is scheduled to leave to get a good seat. You are spending 9 hrs in that space after all, so get as comfortable as you can. Lock your stuff up as good as possible in Pak Beng as there have been stories of backpacks “going missing” from guesthouses. Our boat/tuk tuk/mini-van combo ticket was with NamKhon Travel, which we bought through Friendship Guesthouse. We were very happy with the service and would recommend them.

February 2015 UPDATE: A big thank you to one of our readers, Andre, for providing an update about this route. As you can imagine, things can change over the course of 4 years. What hasn’t changed; the price of the boat for both legs is still 110,000 kip and Pak Beng remains a dump. Big changes: in Luang Prabang, you now have to catch the boat at a pier that is about a 20 minute tuk tuk ride away. Andre left at 7:00am and said the boat departed at 8:35am. In Huay Xai, there are now accommodations at the pier, so you don’t need to go into town to find a room. You no longer take a boat across to the Thai border either. Instead, grab a tuk tuk ride across the newly built bridge. Andre said the tuk tuk departed from his guesthouse at 9:00am and cost him 25,000 kip for a 20 minute ride to the bridge. The rest of our post still holds up! If you’d like to read Andre’s experience in more detail, see his comment below and be sure to follow along on his Southeast Asian trip at Round The World Andre.

 

  • Engler Raimund Peter

    If You have time in your hand, spendt one day in pak beng, there is al lot to see, very beautiful when the tourists are gone and you can go to the river for swimming, in Luang Prabang nearly impossible. I stayed there a couple of days.

  • Engler Raimund Peter

    With a friend I wendt down the “big mother” from Chiang Saen to Luang Prabang by our own inflatable Kajak. A big difference to the slowboat. Two weaks paddeling with free “accomodations” on the river banks and great fun with the lokals.

  • Inderpreet Singh Dhanoa

    Hey Arienne….Great article….very informative !! Planning to do Luang Prabang to Huay Xai by slow boat in Feb this year. One query….till what time in the evening do the Thai Immigration issue “Visa on arrival” & let you cross over ? We were planning to cross the border the same day as we arrived at Huay Xai & go on to Chiang Rai for the night. Somewhere on some site I had read that the border is open from 06:00 hrs to 22:00 hrs. Is there any way to confirm this. Many thanks…..Cheers !!

    • http://www.seeyousoon.ca Arienne

      Hi Inderpreet! Happy to hear the post is helping you in your upcoming travels :) When we did the crossing in 2011, the timing was really tight to cross ther border in Huay Xai. While the border was open for a small window when we arrived, our concern was finding transportation that was still running at that time to take us to Chiang Mai. Things have likely changed and operators hopefully have caught on that people want to make the trip in one go. I can’t confirm how late the border is open until but I’d recommend researching some transportation providers who do the drive from Huay Xai to Chiang Mai and see what they’re offering. Have a great time!

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  • Darryl

    Great post, I am looking to do this trip in August. do you know if the boats run during the monsoon season? I think that I have read that some of the cruise boats don’t operate during the wet? Cheers

    • http://www.seeyousoon.ca Arienne

      Hey Darryl! I wish I could be of help, but I don’t know if the boats run or not during the monsoon season… Safe travels!

  • http://roundtheworldandre.com André d’Oliveira

    Doing this tomorrow. Your post has been extremely helpful. Thank you for putting it together!

    • http://www.seeyousoon.ca Arienne

      Hi Andre! I’m so happy you found this post helpful. Have a wonderful trip! Please leave a follow up comment letting me know how your experience was and if the process has changed at all if you wouldn’t mind :) Happy Travels!

      • http://roundtheworldandre.com André d’Oliveira

        Hi Arienne,

        Writing from Ko Tao after a mad couple of weeks (in a good way, of course)! As you can probably tell, I’ve survived the “slow boat experience”. There are indeed a few differences from when you did it but the bulk of what you wrote is still correct and helped me all the same. I’ll detail my trip below.

        You don’t mention the pier being away from town which leads me to believe that they’ve only changed it to a place about 20 minutes away by tuk tuk recently. I left Luang Prabang at 7:00 and after arguing a bit with the tuk tuk driver for a fair price, got there in about 20 minutes. The boat ticket is still 110.000 kip.

        We left at 8:35. Boat wasn’t too full, each person had literally two sits for themselves. It had a squat toilet. We arrived in Pak Beng at 17:35. The views were actually quite good on the first day and I was mostly entertained for most of the time.

        I believe the prices went up a bit since you were in Pak Beng. The first quote I got just after leaving the pier was $20 (yes!). I kept going up and they went from 150.000 kip to 70.000 kip for a room. I ended up bunking with a guy that was in the boat and we paid 40.000 kip each for what may proably be the best shack in Pak Beng. Brick mattress, rock hard pillow, mosquito net with holes – the works.

        The place is a massive dump and made it straight to number one on the list of worst places I’ve visited on this trip (out of 60 so far). We did some walking around but there was nothing to see. Dinner at one of the restaurants wasn’t too bad though. Opium being sold right by our doorstep? Not so cool, but hey.

        The next day we left Pak Beng at 8:35. The boat had the same people as expected but also a bunch of locals. Who filled in the gaps. I didn’t have anyone next to me though. We didn’t arrive in Hauy Xai until 18:30 which was a bit of a stretch. The second day was not as good because the river is much wider and I didn’t feel as immersed (sorry, may have watched Apocalypse Now one too many times).

        When we arrived we decided to stick around the pier area. I remembered what you wrote, but couldn’t quite figure out why you’d go all the way into town when there’s so many places right there? Maybe they’re new? We stayed in a guesthouse that charged us 50.000 kip for a twin room. It was like a cheap hotel but mountains above the previous night experience. Had dinner nearby.

        The lady mentioned that there would be a tuk tuk leaving for the border at 9 am the next morning. I believe this is the biggest difference from your account. Since the bridge was built I don’t think that it’s possible to cross the river by boat, etc. We took the tuk tuk (25.000 kip each) to the bridge, which took something like 20 minutes.

        Once there we first exited Laos without issues and then had to buy tickets to either Chiang Khong or Chiang Rai. Since we were going to Chiang Rai, that’s what we did. Bought the bus ticket (225 baht) and next thing we knew we’d been through Thai emmigration and on our way to Chiang Rai. We got there in less than two hours.

        So, yeah, that was it. In the end I’m very glad I did it – no way I’d be caught doing a 16 hours bus trip through the mountains!

        Thanks again for putting the text together – it really was helpful. :-)

        • http://www.seeyousoon.ca Arienne

          Hi Andre!

          This is phenomenal! Thank you so much for taking the time to let us know how your experience went. I had heard rumblings of a pier further away and a new bridge but now we have concrete information. Interesting how some things haven’t changed (the price of the boat and that Pak Beng is still a dump, haha). Would you be ok if I added your experience into my post above and site you?

          Ah Ko Tao! We have really great memories there learning how to scuba dive. Enjoy Thailand!

          • http://roundtheworldandre.com André d’Oliveira

            Yeah, apparently some of the most recent Lonely Planet books still mention the boat which is fairly confusing. As far as I could gather (in extremely poor English exchanges with locals) the bridge is the only way to go about it these days.

            Feel free to use any of it – what would be the point otherwise. :-) My website for this trip is http://www.roundtheworldandre.com.

            I’m loving Ko Tao! Thank you!

          • http://www.seeyousoon.ca Arienne

            Thank you Andre! I’ve updated the post with your comments. Happy travels! :)

          • http://roundtheworldandre.com André d’Oliveira

            No worries. And thank you!

  • Mary

    Hi, I am planning on doing a very similar trip next month. How long total did it take for you to get from Luang Prabang to Chiang Mai?

    • http://www.seeyousoon.ca Arienne

      Hi Mary. In total the trip took 2 & 1/2 days. Cheers!

  • aldrin aquisap

    Thanks for this post Arienne, it’s really helpful.
    I’m going to travel to Laos this coming May, from Vientiane to Vang Vieng to Phonsavan to Luang Prabang and then to Chiang Mai. I’m not too sure if I can squeeze this in 12 days but hoping I will. :) Cheers!

    • http://www.seeyousoon.ca Arienne

      You’re very welcome Aldrin! Laos is one of my favourite countries. You’re going to have a great time. It’s definitely possible to fit all that in 12 days. For the long distances between destinations, take overnight buses. I will recommend though, NOT taking the overnight bus up to Vang Vieng as the roads are very winding. I would even recommend some motion sickness pills for that leg of your trip. Enjoy!

  • Jjingerbread

    Hi Arienne,
    Do you know a bus trip from Luang Prabang to Chiang Mai?

    • http://www.seeyousoon.ca Arienne

      Hey Jjingerbread! I don’t know a company off the top of my head. But once you get to Luang Prabang, there are a number of tour operators on the main street. Take a walk down it and pop into a few of the shops to see what price they’re offering them at.

      • Jjingerbread

        you are really a great help Arienne. :) thank you so much!

  • Dave

    We are traveling soon through the same area. Thank you for your blog it was informative and honest. Cheers Dave and Libby.

    • http://www.seeyousoon.ca Arienne

      Thanks Dave! I hope you and Libby have a wonderful time!

  • Jjingerbread

    Hi Arienne!

    This is Jjingerbread again. Is it better to book a hostel as early as now or I will just go directly in a hostel once I arrive in the place? I’ll be travelling mid-May this year.

    I am not sure but I was thinking, maybe there are a lot of available dorm rooms in SE Asia. Taking chances perhaps.

    What do you think?
    Thanks!

    • http://www.seeyousoon.ca Arienne

      When I travelled through Southeast Asia, I rarely booked a place in advance. I preferred to see what was available first and then negotiate a price. It all depends on your comfort level. But I never had a problem finding accommodation the day I arrived. I think you’ll be find, especially because you’ll be traveling in May which is not peak season.

      • Jjingerbread

        Woow! thanks Arienne :)

        I am comfortable sleeping in a dorm room with other backpackers. I was kinda worried of the hostel prices online, so maybe I can negotiate prices when I arrive.

        My first stop is Hanoi. Do you have any suggestions what to do there for a day? :)

        • http://www.seeyousoon.ca Arienne

          Yes, you can check out a post I wrote about exactly that, what to see and do in Hanoi: http://seeyousoon.ca/from-the-streets-of-hanoi-vietnam/ Also click on the country links at the side of the page to see what else I’ve written about the other destinations you may be visiting. Cheers!

  • Jjingerbread

    Hi!

    I was searching for a bus trip going to Chiang Mai from Luang Prabang. But, I was overwhelmed with your blog. It seems very exciting, kinda different and well, comfortable.

    I would just like to ask, the mini van which you took going to your next Guesthouse in Chiang Mai.. was it available once you arrived in Thailand?

    Thanks!

    • http://www.seeyousoon.ca Arienne

      Hey Jjingerbread!

      The slow boat is a really neat experience. I highly recommend it if you have the time. We actually organized our minivan transportation on the Laos side before we crossed the river and went through Thai immigration. It was a combination ticket that included the river crossing, tuk-tuk, and van transportation all the way to Chiang Mai. This itinerary runs daily and you can purchase it through Friendship Guesthouse in Huay Xai. Happy travels!

      • Jjingerbread

        I will be travelling alone this May. :)

        Alright then, i will check in at Friendship Guesthouse also so I can arrange the minivan transpo :)

        I will get back to you if I have other questions.

        Thank you sooo much!

  • MadiNZ

    Hey, my friend and I are heading over this January and the slow boat trip has been highly recommended but we have had trouble finding a company – can you please recommend the one you went with?? We have emailed a couple and got nowhere haha I think the language barrier is not helping!! Cheers

    • http://www.seeyousoon.ca Arienne

      Hey! Yes, the slow boat is a really nice, leisurely way to take in the Mekong. The scenery is beautiful. We actually didn’t use a company to book out tickets. As I wrote above, we just showed up to the ferry dock in Luang Prabang and bought our tickets of the first leg of the trip to Pak Beng. Then the next morning we bought our tickets on the boat from Pak Beng to Huay Xai. We did use a company for our tuk tuk/ferry/ bus ride combo ticket from Huay Xai to Chiang Mai called NamKhon Travel and we bought this in person from the Friendship Guesthouse in Hauy Xai. I hope all this helps! Cheers.

    • racecarr

      Hi there MadiNZ we should catch up in Thailand?

      • HeeliesNZ

        Hey racecarr and madiNZ we are looking to do the trip too. Might see you there hahah! Hope Bangkok was fun

  • Richard

    The info was great when we were researching. My wife and I did the same trip in June, 2013. The most important change is that the passenger boats no longer leave from a jetty in Luang Prabang. They have moved to a village upstream around 20-25 minutes in a tuk tuk, So you need to allow for the time and cost of that, especially if you want to arrive early to get a choice of seat (don’t sit too near the back where the diesel engine bangs away). The boats upriver were near full but the ones down river had more passengers. Both boats used had toilets and counters selling basics.
    We paid all inclusive (except for food) Luang Prabang to Chang Mai 1,120,000 kip for two persons with Tripthala Travel. The organisation was good. Collected and handed over at every point except arriving in Huay Xai. You could save a bit if you organised everything yourself and knew what the prices should be or can bargain well. My only reservation is the hotels were down to a price.
    In Pak Beng they used Vadsana, where the nice thing was being met at the jetty as it was pouring with rain. We ate at the (only) Indian restaurant, I wish we hadn’t. On the second day to get to the boat going up river we had to climb through the boat going down, be sure to ask which is which.
    In Huay Xai the jetty where the slow boats arrive is a kilometre upstream from the jetty where the ferry leaves to cross to Thailand the next day. Staying overnight is a safer choice as the times are tight if you want to rush across that same evening. We were booked into the Ponethip, which gained its half star in the rating because it was very close to the ferry jetty. A notice on the hotel wall banned making noises after 10pm and sex with children.
    There is a new bridge across the river at Huay Xai but it was not yet opened in June.

  • Dizzy

    Really useful info, I’ve been looking for exactly this! Thanks so much for including times and prices. I think I will give the DIY thing a go when I travel to SEA this year instead of booking more deluxe thing in advance.

    • http://www.seeyousoon.ca Arienne

      You’re very welcome! Be sure to let me know if the times and prices have remained the same. Happy travels!

  • Johanna

    Very useful information! I am in Luang Prabang at the moment and will head off to Chiang Mai in a few days. :)

    • http://www.seeyousoon.ca Arienne

      Excellent! Have a great time!

  • natalie

    thank you for so much information, we will do de same journey in february 2014, so it helps us much!

    • http://www.seeyousoon.ca Arienne

      You’re welcome Natalie. Have a great trip!

  • Ivyg22

    Thank you for such detailed information for the leg of travel! I’m in Luang Prabang right now and just love it so much that I’m staying for two weeks (woohoo!). I’m curious as to your guesthouse in chiang mai. How was it and would you recommend it? 

    Thank you! 

    Ivy

    • http://www.seeyousoon.ca Arienne

      Hi Ivy! Wow, 2 weeks in Luang Prabang. That sounds amazing! I absolutely loved that place. In terms of a guesthouse in Chiang Mai, we stayed at a place called Green Tulip. We really enjoyed it and it was walking distance from where our van dropped everyone off. I just did a quick Google search and it appears that they’ve relocated since we were there, so I can’t speak to the new location. But I would recommend them based on our experience at their old location.

      • Ivyg22

        Thanks again Arienne! If I find any new nuggets to share, I’ll be back to post. Safe travels to you!

  • Supratim (from Kolkata, India)

    Very useful info. I will be doing this mid April-13. I was planning a stopover at Chiang Rai before proceeding to Chiang Mai. Any suggestions?

    • http://www.seeyousoon.ca Arienne

      When you arrive in Huay Xia, there will be a few tour companies who offer transport across the river and through the Thailand border and onwards. They offer a number of travel routes, including Chiang Rai, so check out what they’re offering and compare prices.

      • Supratim (from Kolkata, India)

        One more question, is it the same boat (and same ticket) from Luang Prabang to Huay Xai or the operator (and boat) changes at Pak Beng? From your blog it seems you changed at Pak Beng.

        • http://www.seeyousoon.ca Arienne

          No, you will buy 2 separate tickets. One from Luang Prabang to Pak Beng. Then when you’re in Pak Beng, you’ll get another ticket (and likely a different boat). In Luang Prabang we bought our ticket from the ticket booth by the boats and in Pak Beng we bought our ticket right on the boat. When you’re in Pak Beng, just ask which boat is going to Huay Xai so you don’t end up going back to Luang Prabang.

  • http://www.facebook.com/mick.wolf.39 Mick Wolf

    This was very helpful. I will be making this trip in a couple months. Glad to know what I am in for.

    • http://www.seeyousoon.ca Arienne

       Thanks Mick! Glad to help out. Have a great trip!

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  • lee

    great post! thanks for sharing, it is really helpful~i have 10 days in end of Mei and early Jun,  start from Vientiane, plan to stay 2 days at LP, than take slow boat to ChengMai, plan to visit Mae Hong-Sun 2 days than off at Cheng -mai, is it enough time for me to cover Viantiane-LP-CM, ? Viantiane to LP, will taking bus. thanks for help.

    • http://www.seeyousoon.ca Arienne

      Hi Lee!

      Thanks for your comment. So happy this post has helped you. In terms of your schedule, 10 days to go from Vientiane, Luang Prabang, Mae Hong Son, and Chiang Mai is very ambitious. I feel that you won’t have enough days to fully enjoy each destination without getting very exhausted. I think 12 days would be more ideal. Keep in mind that you have to give yourself “travel days” when moving from one destination to another. It’s Southeast Asia and things tend to take a little longer than we’d like :)

      • lee

        thank you very much Arienne for such great reply. thanks !

        • http://www.seeyousoon.ca Arienne

           You’re very welcome! Let me know if I can help you in any other way :) Cheers!

  • Penny

    Wonderful post! Exactly what I needed to know. Thanks so much for sharing. 

    • http://www.seeyousoon.ca Arienne

       Excellent! So happy this post helped you out Penny. Happy travels!

  • Briar Butler

    Hi there – where did you get your boat, tuk tuk, van combo ticket from Huay Xai?

    • http://www.seeyousoon.ca Arienne

       Hey Briar! Our boat/tuk tuk/mini-van combo ticket was with NamKhon Travel, which we bought through Friendship Guesthouse where we stayed in Huay Xai. Price was 85,000 kip per person. Just walk into the Guesthouse and pick it up from the guy behind the reception desk.

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