Crossing the border – Chiangrai to Luang Prabang
Our journey from Thailand to Laos was quite straightforward, considering that we had to make all our decisions on the spot – asking locals for directions along the way and constantly being rushed up the next bus moving off “now”.
We had did a quick online search beforehand about crossing the border, but most of the info seemed pretty outdated so here’s a quick overview of our trip from Chiang Rai to Luang Prabang in Dec 2015 via the Thai Laos Friendship Bridge:
Chiang Rai to Chiang Khong
If you walk around the Chiang Rai bus station, chances are you will easily find a bus departing for Chiang Khong in the next hour. Buses depart hourly from 6.00am to 5.00pm daily and tickets are at 65 Baht for the 2-hour trip. Just keep a lookout for the sign board like this one:
Chiang Khong to Thai immigration
We didn’t have to get from Chiang Khong to the Thai borders, since we were dropped off by our driver directly at the Thai immigration. We had wanted to visit Phu Chi Fah before heading to Laos, hence renting a car from Chiang Rai. It was 3,000 baht for the car + driver from Chiang Rai to Phu Chi Fah to Chiang Khong.
A tuk-tuk ride from Chiang Khong to the immigration would cost 150-200 baht.
Thai immigration to Laos immigration
Upon crossing the Thai border, we had to take a shuttle bus across the Thai-Laos Friendship Bridge which costs 25 baht.
There are money exchanges on both the Thai and Laos immigration checkpoints. We changed our USD to kip at the Laos side because the exchange rates were much better.
Laos border to Bokeo bus station in Huay Xai
After crossing the Laos customs, we were swiftly ushered up a tuk tuk waiting to be filled. The shared tuk tuk to Huay Xai costs 40 baht / 10,000 kip per person.
From Huay Xai to Luang Prabang
The tuk tuk brought us straight to Bokeo bus station, where there are plenty of buses to Luang Namtha, Luang Prabang or Vientiane.
The earliest bus to Luang Prabang leaves at 10.00am at 130,000 kip per pax. We missed it by more than an hour, but managed to get on the 11.30am bus to Vientiane, which stops by Luang Prabang. Our ticket was 140,000 kip per pax.
Bus journey to Luang Prabang
We were told the journey takes about 8-9 hours, but the actual time taken was 12 hours. We departed from Huay Xai at 11.30am, stopped over at Muang Xai for dinner at 7.30pm and finally arrived at Luang Prabang bus station at midnight. It’s a long journey, so remember to bring along a book!
Luang Prabang-ians are not night owls indeed. The town sleeps by 10pm, so when we reached Luang Prabang, the bus station was eerily quiet and empty. There were no tuk tuks in sight. To make things worse, we were the only two who disembarked from the bus.
Thankfully, we managed to hitch a ride from a kind local lady who dropped us off at the Luang Prabang city centre, about 15min ride away. Else, it would have taken us about 1hr by foot.
All the best for your journey! Feel free to comment below on your own experience or drop me a question if you need any help.
Planning for a trip to Chiang Rai? Here’s where we stayed (highly recommended!)