Chiang Rai was sweet, but by morning we were continuing on with our to Laos PDR: Chiang Mai –> Chiang Rai –> Thai Border –> Huay Xai (to take the boat along the Mekong) –> Stopover in Pakbeng –> Arrive in Luang Prabang by boat
Chiang Rai –> Thai Border:
At 5 am, we walked to the bus station (where we arrived less than 24 hours ago), boarded the bus at 6am and paid another 170 baht to get to the Thai Border. When we left the station, the bus driver started the engine and off we went.
Funny thing? It was extremely cold.
Granted this was a local-no-frills-kinda-deal bus… but it was freezing. I shut all of the windows near me (obviously the air conditioning was not on, nor was there any source of heat aside from the humans around you), but it was STILL COLD… so I looked behind me and realized the back door was completely
open missing. WHAT??
So we rode the bus, without a door, for 2 hours.
Arrival at Thai Border: With heavy backpacks and a time-oriented schedule, we hired a tuk tuk (50 baht per person) to drive us to the border (walk-able but if you’re on a schedule like we were, tuk-tuk is the way to go)!
And to be perfectly honest… it felt like we were on the amazing race. Everyone scrambled off the bus, claimed a tuk-tuk, and once we arrived at the Thai Border, we all ran to the visa office to fill out our paperwork and to collect our stamps.
Once we were given permission to leave, we hired a ferry boat (probably another 150 baht) to the bring us over to the Laos PDR side. It only took a few minutes to reach the other side and once we arrived, I thought we were in Luang Prabang… but I was SO wrong.
UPON ARRIVAL, VISIT LAOS BORDER PATROL: First we had to get our Laos PDR visas (hot mess)! Tons of tourists/tour groups arrived at the same time- people didn’t know which line to stand in, paperwork needed to be completed, others needed $36.00 US dollars or the Laos equivalent to enter… however, after 30 minutes, it all worked out (even though they almost denied me access since they thought I wouldn’t have room for a stamp to return back to Thailand… however I was advised them that my new passport was the US Embassy in Thailand and got through).
BUYING BOAT TICKETS: Since we could still use Thai money in Laos PDR, we paid another tuk-tuk 50 baht to take us to the boat to Luang Prabang. The actual cost of the boat was 900 baht for two-days of travel. So we paid the ticket, picked up a vegetarian baguette and boarded the boat.
After a busy morning, we took our seats and rode along the Mekong for the next 7+ hours.
Find out the details of our boat trip in the next post!