Thailand's North


Global Mark : 12.28

Ratings by criteria : 

Charm Scenery Parks Culture Minor. Market Relax Fiesta 


4 4 1 2 3 2 3 2 4 11.11

Ratings by backpackers :

Surveyed Liked  Comeback  Recommend  Range AVER.
20 100% (20) 70% (14) 80% (16) 7 to 20 13.45

Description : 
A long but narrow city along the river and opposite Laos

Comments : Most of travelers go here on their way to or from Laos but it is pleasant enough on its own and the surroundings are beautiful.

What to do ? Arrange for a Laos Visa / Get tips from other backpackers / Store on foods & drinks in case you plan to take the slow boat / If time, explore the countryside on bike / If coming from Laos, enjoy Thailand again ! / In season (18 April- May), catch the "Mekong giant catfish", the biggest fresh water fish in the world (up to 300kg !) 

What you may not like ? The rain which may make the small road in Laos impracticable & therefore delay your trip / Having no slow boats during Sunday / The cost of internet / The Tuk-Tuk minimum charge of B20 / 

How long ? Until the rain stop, the slow boat operates or your bus departs...

Where to stay ? Plenty of places to choose from, on each side of the road. Our selection below, from the bus stations (south) toward the pier (north) :

  • The River Guesthouse (791348, ), 500m south from the market & bus stations, by the river, 10mn walk / Dorm 60, bungalow 100(1) or 150(2), house 300 / Free bike / Go there for the setting, isolation & view.
  • Chomkong Guesthouse (655661), turn left, pass the bridge and turn right after Immigration Office, 10mn walk / Room w. HW shower 200(1) or 300 (2) / Expensive but very nice rooms and good view toward the river
  • Rimkhong Guesthouse (791105), continue a bit along the river / Sgl 70, Dbl 100 / HW outside / Bike 20 or free / Clean but basic rooms, and on the wrong side of the road (restaurant however overlooking the river)
  • Baan Fai Guesthouse (791394, ), back on the main road, on the right opposite Green Tree Guesthouse (also OK from B50 to B100, seem to cater to Japanese) / Sgl 60, Dbl 100, Dbl w. HW shower 150 / Go there for the nice rooms in a teak house a bit off the road, the good prices, the view to the river from the dbl
  • Baan Tam Mi La Guesthouse (791123, ), next to the internet places, well of the road by the river / Room w. cold shower 150, HW 200, view 250 / Go there for the nicest setting & garden / What you may not like : being told it is full, the rather basic rooms
  • Bamboo Riverside Guesthouse (791621, ), 20mn north of the bus station / Dorm (5) 70, bungalow 150, w. HW shower 250 / HW / Go there to be with plenty of travelers, the nice setting on a slope next to the river or to hear the owner play the blues / What you may not like : the basic rooms at relatively high prices
  • Hua Wiang Guesthouse, 57/1 Moo 1 Huaviang Rd, a bit after the above, 300m south of boat pier. This is where you are likely to be dropped if coming from Chiang Saen by songthaew / Dorm(3) 40, Sgl 60, Dbl 80 / HW / Good map / Cheap & tasty restaurant (B20) / Cable TV / Go there to meet plenty of backpackers, the cheap prices / What you may not like : the bad setting, the noise from the road (motorbikes & dogs) and from the other rooms.
  • Namkhong Guesthouse (874321, ), continuing toward the pier / Room w. HW shower 150, bungalows w. outside HW100 or 120 (view) / Go there for the OK setting and the bungalows prices / What you may not like : the concrete rooms
  • Baan Thip Guesthouse (655859), the closest to the pier / Bungalows w. HW shower 250 / Expensive but convenient and OK setting

Internet ? Several places charges B2 per mn, with or without minimum charge. Chist Cash Com, south of the Post Office, may reduce it to B1 per mn if the connection is slow but they close on WE.

Books ? Traveler Corner (655374, ), near Baan Tam Mi La Guesthouse sells first hand and second hands books, incl. travel guides to Laos (but do you need one ?)

Laos Visa ? Plenty of agencies and nearly all the guesthouses can take care of this matter. As quoted by Anntour (655198), it cost for most western countries B1400 for a 15 days visa or B1900 for a 30 days arranged in 2 or 3 days (need the passport plus two photos). Same day 15 days visa is also an option for $50. Check around, and in particular at Hua Wiang Country Guesthouse as prices varies according to needs, speed and nationalities. Overall, it is however cheaper and safer (rules change overnight) to get it via agencies in Bangkok.

Border crossing ? The border is open daily from 8 to 17:30. The 2mn ferry ride cost B20.

Change ? Plenty of banks in town but also possible to exchange currencies with fellow travelers. Thai bath, US$ or kips can all be used in Laos.

Backpacker's Tips : Chayut Pihakaendr, Thailand (Jan 04)
« After I arrived in Chiang Khong at about 16.30 unfornately I missed the Chiang Khong – BKK bus the guy said the last bus to Bkk is leave at 16.00 . In order to get to Bkk I had to take the last Chiang Khong – Chiang Rai bus ( 57 B ) it parks near the market it left at 17.00 to be able to catch the last bus from Chiang Rai—Bkk (355 B) it left at 20.00 daily .Then it arrive Bkk about 7.00 in the morning. If you planned to go to Bkk please leave Laos before the last bus from Chiang Khong leave. »

Backpacker's Tips : Amtrak Amtrakker, Australia (April 03)  
« Boat from Chiang Khong still costs 20THB. Ignore the chap selling tickets for LP - it is actually cheaper to buy 
them in Chiang Khong! Walk up the concrete ramp to the immigration office - the window on the right is where 
you apply for a visa (15 days). Costs $30 or 1500THB and requires 1 photo and application form. Takes 5 
minutes. Then fill out the arrivals card and go to neighbouring window to be processed into Laos. The currency 
booth nearby gives the same rates as in Luang Prabang. Tuk-tuk to the slow boat pier costs 5kLAK (20THB). 
Slow boat advertised to leave at 10.30a.m. - left at 11.30a.m. which seems par for the course here in Laos! One 
way fare to Pak Beng was 65kLAK and to LP was 130kLAK. Insurance of 100THB is still being charged on the 
boat but you don't have to pay. 

Bus Schedules :

To Price Class Duration Time Nb Freq.

Chiang Rai




5:45 to 15:45

a lot


Chiang Mai














Chiang Saen




7 to 12

a few


Notes : To Chiang Rai, also via longer road (B46, 3 hrs, 7 to 17 every hour) / To Bangkok, also private minibus & VIP / To Chiang Saen, from opposite post office, to Hat Bai then change to Chiang Saen; also direct bus at 6 or 7 (B30)

The trip to Huay Xai (Laos) : SSSS / L&R / B20 / 2mn / boat
The shortest trip of all ! Disappointingly fast but lengthened a bit by administrative formalities. First on the Thai side : if you have filled up your departure card in advance, it should not take more than a couple of minutes, that is, of course, if you do not show up at the 8am opening and have to queue. You then walk down to your boat, pay up the B20 fee, say hello to your driver and, two minutes later, say goodbye. I was the only passenger but you could also been asked to board a busy one. On the Lao side, show your passport again to the very unofficial looking-like office, just after the unofficial looking-like bank. You will fill an arrival form and be given couple of stamps and a departure card with a resort ad on the reverse side... Now it is official : you have reached Laos !

See also the trip from Chiang Saen