Sunday, March 27, 2016

Crossing from Chiang Rai to Huay Xai and Luang Prabang in Laos

I was finishing my time in Pai, mainly because of visa expiring. And I know I don't want to go over, mainly to avoid complications when getting further visas in the future.

So I headed to Chiang Mai for a few days. Had a great time, rode around with automatic moped/scooter/motor bike. Ran a few errands; took money using bitcoin to avoid ATM fees and reap the benefits of the profit I made. Changed for some USD for entry visa into Laos. And sold North face backpack my brother had left me a month before at a hotel. I didn't like the size and weight of it and am already happy with the ones I have. 

All in all a good time before going to Chiang Rai for only 120bath greenbus (+50 for tuktuk to bus station). Spent one night in Chiang Rai (completely forgot that I met a traveler in Morocco that was in town volunteering! sorry). I liked the night market and vibe of Chiang Rai and got decent priced private room - even though I normally prefer dorm, but the price was the same. So I got good sleep instead of crowding in a dorm.

Walked around and also went to see the white temple, which was very worth a visit, a must see if you are in the region. Very unique artist work and unlike any other. Make sure to also visit the gallery. All of that is free, only costs 20bath from the central bus station in Chiang Rai (each way). Enjoyed a papaya salad lunch just outside the "mall" type area before the temple entrance.

And then I went to the station headed to Laos - cost 65bath and they go every half hour. Red bus with all the windows open - not so good when feeling a little weak. I believe the cold I caught was from that. The bus drops you off near the bridge. From there the only way to get to the exit point of Thailand is using tuktuk that costs 50bath (or walk) but at my condition and with the bags I had - I couldn't imagine walking.

Once you get there, the exit is very simple. but then comes the annoying part. the bridge has dedicated bus service that costs 20bath (25 on weekends - which of course it was for me) once you go about 4 minutes over the bridge, you have the fun time to enter Laos. First fill out a form and give your passport + picture. Now you wait. They call your name and you pay the price (30-40 USD depending where you are from) being Canadian I paid ~$43, extra dollar after 22:00, which it was. 

Finally you get through and now you are on your own (unless you paid for complete journey somewhere) there's tuktuks that will take you into town which is around 12km away (why? this is a foreshadow into how the bus stations of Laos cities are very far from the actual city - poor organization) cost me 100bath

I had the tuktuk stop at the bus station so I can buy the ticket to Luang Prabang. This is where I got confused since I had no local currency yet, I paid 1,000bath and received 75,000 KIP. Scheduled for 6pm the next day, means I got to spend some time and relax in town of Huay Xai. 

Didn't expect to have so many travelers in the town, but it makes sense being so close to the border of Thailand, a common stop off. With many guesthouses, Gibbon excursions, restaurants and even a nice temple overlooking the Mekong river. Tomorrow comes the terrible overnight ride to Luang Prabang.

No comments: