INFO: Lao – Thailand Border Crossing (Huei Xai – Chiang Khong)

Here’s an overview of the border crossing between Luang Prabang in Lao and Chiang Khong in Thailand. This should come as useful information to those of you out there who are intending to do the same: we found precious little clear info online and the Lao travel agents didn’t do a very good job of explaining the transfer process to us. (There’s more info online on the crossing from the Thai side though.)

We booked the complete transfer between Luang Prabang (Lao) and Chiang Mai (Thailand) via a tour company in LP as we wanted to avoid losing time finding all the transport connections ourselves.

– Ticket cost: 310000LAK/pp
– Get to LP North bus terminal
– Take bus from LP to Huei Xai terminal (Bokeo Province)
– Get to the Huei Xai – Chiang Khong river crossing
– Go to Immigration (exit procedures)
– Take boat to Chiang Khong (Thailand)
– Go to Immigration (entry procedures)
– Get to next transport connection to Chiang Mai

The Lao agent (Andy’s Air Ticketing Service, 49/3 Khemkong Road LP, Tel.+856-71260505) gave us a ticket receipt to the border town of Huei Xai and another one which we would show to the tuk-tuk driver there as well as their partner agents along the way for free onward transport.

Initial pick-up was at 18:00 in front of our guest house by tuk-tuk and dropped us off at the LP Nort bus station about 15 minutes later.

At the terminal office we showed our purchase receipt and got our bus tickets. The 19:00 “VIP” bus left almost on schedule (though another traveller told me the buses normally leave when they’re full so we may have been lucky). The ride to Huei Xai took 12 hours (on time).

The trip was not no luxury by western standards but no long bus trip is comfortable and all in all it was not bad. Although all seats were occupied, several pickups were made along the main road, the last being about 5 people who had rolled their car off into the vegetation. (I have no problem this as long as it doesn’t cause big delays or serious discomfort to paying passengers. These poeple also need to get somewhere and don’t have the variety of options we take for granted. They were camped out on the floor and I could only empathise with the discomfort of sitting cramped upright for several hours. There was no on board toilet as explained to us but this is a safer option as they can start to stink; several “refreshment” stops were made. Air con on older buses tends to be a problem so take something warm on board including something for your head.)

We showed our tickets to a tuk-tuk driver in Huei Xai who dropped us off at the partner agent. The partner was located right at the river crossing. They paid the tuk-tuk driver, converted our receipts to minivan tickets for the other side and put a sticker on us to signal a free ride with a tuk-tuk on the Thai side. They excorted us to the immigation office for passport stamping (no fee was involved) and then to the boat. (There is also a money exchange office right at the border office so you can convert your remaining LAK to THB).

Bye Bye Lao. The boat trip to the Thai post was about 5 minutes and there we simply filled out our arrival/departure forms and got our Visa On Arrival stamp for 14 days. Again no fee.

We got on a tuk-tuk near the immigration office, which took us to the partner agent on the Thai side (about 10 minutes). They checked our minivan tickets and half an hour later we were seated in a nice minivan en route to Chiang Mai.