A couple of months ago, I crossed the Thailand-Laos border in northern Thailand. I stayed one night in Chiang Khong in Thailand and crossed the border the next morning. I booked a tour in Chiang Mai to cross the border, and I obtained a ticket on the slow boat to Luang Prabang. The visa was $35.00 extra, but the tour agency assisted in obtaining a Laos visa at the border.
Laos visa and tour to Luang Prabang purchased in Chiang Mai
I arrived in Chiang Mai the night before. Immediately, I took a walk toward the night market and found a tour agency. I purchased a tour to Luang Prabang which included a bus trip to Chiang Rai, two hours at the White Temple, transportation to the Thai border town of Chiang Khong, one-night stay in Chiang Khong, transportation across the Mekong River to the Laos town of Huay Xai, and a ticket on a boat to Luang Prabang. This all cost about $66.00.
What was not included
The tour mainly included transport and a one-night stay in Chiang Khong. It did not include entry to the White Temple, food on the way to Chiang Khong, at Chiang Khong, and food along the boat tour. It also did not include lodging in Pakbeng, Laos. Pakbeng is the halfway spot along the Mekong River between Huay Xai and Luang Prabang. The boat stopped there for the night at approximately 4:30 p.m.
Tour did not include Visa cost
The cost for the Laos Visa was also not included in the price of the tour. It was $35.00 for the Laos Visa, which was purchased at the border. The guesthouse in Chiang Khong; however, provided everything needed to make the crossing. They provided change in both Thai Baht, Laotian Kip, and U.S. Dollars, and they even provided passport photos for a small extra charge. I did not have a passport photo, so I had them take a picture and print it on their small little printer.
Night in Chiang Khong
We stayed at the Nomadic Guesthouse the night before crossing the border. The guesthouse had simple and affordable rooms, but it also featured a beautiful seating area looking over the Mekong River. I sat all night and enjoyed a couple beerlaos while watching the sunset. It was cool to see the lights in Huay Xai, Laos turn on and knowing that the next day I would be experiencing a new country.
Crossing the border
After making sure we had all our documents in order to cross the border, we got in the bus and headed for the border. We first cleared Thai immigration and then waited to board a shuttle across the Mekong to Huay Xai. There was a big Chinese tour group in front of us, and we had to wait about a half hour for the bus to shuttle them first.
I feared we would have to wait forever for the Chinese tourists to clear the Thai border, but they already had their clearance, so our wait was short once we arrived. We had to stand in several short lines. One to pay the $35.00 Visa fee and then another to wait for the Visa to be attached to our passport. Then we waited in another line to show all our documents, and then we were officially in Laos. We boarded another bus that took us to the docks, and we waited for our bus to Luang Prabang, which left at 11:30 a.m. We got there two hours early, so we had plenty of time to eat and relax while waiting for the boat to leave.