Travelling from Pai (Thailand) to Luang Prabang (Laos)

The main reason why I travelled to Laos was because I had to get out of Thailand before my 30-day tourist visa expired. If not I’d definitely stay in Thailand almost forever. Also, my friends and I wanted to visit Laos last year but air tickets to Vientiane was crazy expensive!

So I thought that it’d be easier to travel overland to Laos from Chiang Rai (cause it’s nearer the border) but thankfully there were two agents in Pai who does the trips – slowboat, speedboat, bus.

I chose the 2 days 2 nights slowboat route since I had time to kill and it would be an interesting experience. Also, I heard that taking the slowboat is way better than the bus although it gets you there faster. Of course the speedboat was out of my considerations cause it was pricey.  

Booked the tour with Aya Service Tours and paid 1,750baht (~72SGD).


Day 1 (31 May, Sunday)

    • 6.30pm departure from Pai
    • 6 hour minivan ride to Chiang Khong, Thailand (2 hours of windy roads)
    • 1 night accomodation provided in Chiang Khong (Reached around 12.30am) 
Stayed at Baan Chom Khong Guesthouse for the night.

Day 2 (1 June, Monday)

  • Left the hostel at 7.00am; brought to another guesthouse for breakfast and sort out visas and currency exchange

    The rate I got was 1SGD = 5,520kip. The exchange rate is shit! But I needed money. Turns out this was the best rate I got from the guide. The lowest was 5,000kip in Luang Prabang.
  • Brought to Thai immigration about 10 minutes away
  • Paid 25baht to take a shuttle bus to the Laos border (It was supposed to be 20baht but cause it was Vesak Day, public holiday, we had to pay 5baht more)
  • Brought to Laos border and ‘registered’ with a lady to be brought to the slowboat pier

    Welcome to Laos!
  • Tour agent ‘encouraged’ us to book into a hostel by his recommendation; 100,000kip for 2 people. Told us that it’s best to sit at the front of the boat as the back will be noisy cause of the engine (read this online; I sat in the middle and it seemed fine). He told us he’ll arrange seats for us so we didn’t have to worry about snatching a seat which was bullshit. When we got to the slowboat, it was free seating. The seat numbers were useless
  • Bought an egg sandwich (15,000kip) and water (10,000kip) for the 6-hour boat ride
  • Set off around 11.30am; lots of people mingling and drinking. I slept and read.

    Having spent 16 days constantly surrounded by people and not having any me-time at all, I went into complete isolation-mode and wasn’t very social at all.
  • Reached Pakbeng, Laos, and went off for dinner in the small town with the other slowboaters. Restaurant was giving away free banana whiskey shots. I hardly drink, had 3 shots, and felt like shit after. Let’s just say I saw my dinner for the second time at night. 

    The small town of Pakbeng; serving only as a stopover for slowboaters.

Day 3 (2 June, Tuesday)

  • Slowboat was set to leave at 9.00am; bought two sandwiches (20,000kip) to last me the 7-hour journey 
  • Reached Luang Prabang around 3+pm which was a pleasant surprise cause it was faster than expected  
  • Took a tuktuk for 20,000kip/person (non-negotiable) into Kounsavarn Guesthouse (almost everyone from the slowboat was staying there) 

The end! I’m all for different experiences and this was indeed interesting, cruising down the Mekong river.

I’d highly recommend people to try the slowboat experience and have your own entertainment. I guess I was lucky it wasn’t high season and weren’t a lot of people to squeeze with on the boat. Wear as little clothing as you can; it can get pretty hot.

My stay in Laos will be coming to an end soon. I’ll update about my adventures pretty soon.

Till then!


 

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