Absolutely everything you need to know about how to cross the border between Thailand and Laos and how to get from Chiang Khong to Huay Xai, the two main border cities. Learn what to do, each step of the border crossing process, where to stay, how to get around, and other important information.
If you are traveling overland through Southeast Asia, you will need to know how to cross the border between Thailand and Laos. Although, you better be prepared to travel from Chiang Khong to Huay Xai and know what to expect. If you are curious about how to get to the Chiang Khong border crossing or just want to know the immigration procedures, I will fill you in on everything for a seamless border crossing experience.
othailand Laoscrossing the border is something I did several times during mytravel through southeast asia🇧🇷 I also spent the night in Chiang Khong and Huay Xai, so I explored some of the best things to do in those cities.
Crossing the border with Laos in Thailand: going from Chiang Khong to Huay Xai
- Arriving in Chiang Khong
- Things to do in Chiang Khong
- Chiang Khong at the border
- How to pass thai passport control
- Crossing the Lao-Thai Friendship Bridge from Chiang Khong to Huay Xai
- Lao Retirando LAK
- Passport control and obtaining Laotian visa on arrival
- How to enter Huay Xai
- Things to do in Huay Xai
How to get to Chiang Khong
It is relatively easy to get to Chiang Khong. Most travelers will arrive there byindo de chiang mai🇧🇷 This is the next largest city and an important stop on the backpacking route of Thailand.
You can easily book a minivan at one of the travel agencies or at your guest house in Chiang Mai. Alternatively, there is also the option of going by bus. The bus is much more spacious than the minivan, although the journey itself is a bit longer. The minivan is also likely to stop at the White Temple in Chiang Rai. So if this amazing temple is on your bucket list, go for the minivan option.
If you want to book a bus, you can do it at12Go.Asia.
Things to do in Chiang Khong
For starters, Chiang Khong is not the biggest city. However, there is enough to keep you entertained for a night or two. This is especially true if you are just looking for a place to relax for a few days and rest.
we stayed inPosada y Resort Namkhongfor two nights in Chiang Khong. The price was only $5.70 per night for a double room (that's $2.85 per person!). There is a swimming pool to use set in the lush tropical garden, a Seven-Eleven a two-minute walk away, and an amazing restaurant calledRestaurante Pad Thai Baan Yimjust down the street. Everything below was $5.20 including drinks! Aside from taking a casual stroll along the riverbank, we basically spent our time hanging out by the pool at the cheapest resort I've ever stayed at.
Preparation for the border crossing between Laos and Thailand and travel from Chiang Khong to Huay Xai
To cross the Thai border from Laos, you will need certain things for immigration. This allows for a simple and hassle-free experience.
Besides bringing you and your luggage, the most important thing is obviously your passport. To leave Thailand, you will also need your boarding pass. This would have been given to you when you arrived in Thailand and filled out your arrival card. This exit card should always be kept inside your passport. Unfortunately, if you lost it, border officials may charge you a fee to replace it; if not, you may be able to get one for free. As far as I know, there's no set fee for the replacement card, so you'll likely end up paying whatever the officer asks.
If you are entering Laos with a visa on arrival, there are a few things you will need to bring with you. The Laos Visa on Arrival is available to many nations and is definitely the most popular option when entering Laos. It's relatively easy, just remember to bring a passport size photo, your passport, USD for the fee, and a pen to fill out the paperwork. The amount you will need to pay depends on the country of your passport and it is cheaper to pay in USD than in Thai Baht or Laotian LAK.
Chiang Khong a la frontera with Thailand
The easiest way to travel from Chiang Khong to the Thai border to begin the border crossing between Thailand and Laos is definitely by tuk-tuk. You do not need to arrange this in advance as there will be many available on the streets.
The cost should be about 150 baht. This is what I paid in Thailand and what other travelers usually pay from what I researched.
The journey itself to the border is fairly uneventful. You will be taken a bit outside of the Chiang Khong tourist area where the hotels are located, past the local areas with the morning markets, and finally onto a road that ends at the Thai Immigration building. The ride itself takes about 20 minutes.
How to pass thai passport control
It's a fairly straightforward process that goes through Thai passport control. In general immigration here tends to be pretty smooth in my experience and there are only a few lines open. I went through both the early morning and the last hour of the border closure and both times were relatively quiet.
If you lost your exit card during your travels to Thailand, you will need to fill out a new one before joining immigration lines to leave Thailand. It may take a little longer for the border agent to process this as they need to compare your arrival card number with your new departure card number. I occasionally heard of guards asking for 'charges' or 'fines' for losing your boarding pass. It has no consistency though and basically seems to just be a game of luck.
Crossing the friendship bridge between Thailand and Laos
After passing through Thai immigration, you will be greeted by a stall selling bus tickets to cross the Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge. The cost of the ticket starts from 20 baht, although it can increase if it is a weekend or a holiday. However, it is still extremely cheap and should only be budgeted for as an additional cost to cross the border.
The bus only leaves when it is full. So if you plan to get to the border early to catch a slow boat, keep in mind that the bus won't come through until all seats are taken. That's what I did on my first trip toChiang Mai and Luang Prabangand we ended up having to wait another 30 minutes for more people to arrive.
When there are enough people, the driver will start to have people load their bags under the bus, at which point you can board. It's an easy ride of about 5 minutes across the bridge and it's a pretty uneventful ride. There are hardly any other vehicles around, at least you don't have to worry about traffic!
Now I read about travelers who refused to pay this fee and decided to walk across the bridge. Now PLEASE don't be that person! The Thailand-Laos Friendship Bridge is a kind of no man's land between the two countries. There is no real path to follow and it is actually quite a distance to walk in the hot sun. You only pay the dollar to take the bus.
Lao Retirando LAK
If you need LAK (the local currency in Laos), there is an ATM as soon as you get off the bus at Lao immigration. The rates here will not be as good as in the center of Huay Xai orLuang Prabangalthough sometimes you have no choice. This is especially true if you are planning to go directly to theslow boatdock. There is only one ATM at the pier and you will need cash to pay for the trip there, so you may need to withdraw LAK in advance. Also, keep in mind that it's quite common to be able to pay with Thai Baht at Huay Xai, so if you have a bit more, you can use it here.
If you don't have dollars with you, you will have to get some LAK from Laos. This is so that you can pay the visa fee on arrival when crossing the Thai border from Laos. The amount depends on the country you come from, although it is usually between US$30.00 and US$45.00. For the exact LAK conversion, you will need to ask the immigration officers that day.
Laos immigration and getting a Laos visa on arrival
After hopping off the bus and crossing the Thailand-Lao Friendship Bridge, you will arrive at the Lao immigration office. This is where you need to obtain a Laos visa upon arrival. At the counters, you should find visa application forms on arrival, as well as arrival/departure cards. Please note that you will need to have your own pen or borrow one from another traveler. Make sure you know what your 'Intended Address in Laos' is, which you can simply write as the address of your hostel or guest house in Pakbeng oreven maybe Luang Prabang🇧🇷 Ideally, this should be the next place you spend the night, although this is not an official rule.
After completing your forms, you will need to go to the large window under the Visa on Arrival sign. You will need to give the officials who filled out the visa on arrival form a passport and the amount of the visa fee for the country in your passport. Again, it is best to pay this fee in USD. However, baht and LAK are accepted.
Once your visa has been processed, you will pick it up at the window on the left. If you have successfully received your Laos visa upon arrival, you can go to the immigration officer at their booth. He will inspect the visa, confirm the details are correct, and stamp it in your next country, Laos!
How to get from the border with Laos to Huay Xai
Of course, the border with Laos is at Huay Xai, although it is a fifteen minute drive from the city center. After going through passport control, you will be met by typical Laotian tuk-tuks. Drivers will come up to you and that's when you can start haggling for a fare. Experience a fee of approximately LAK 25,000 per person.
Please note that if you arrive in Laos early and are one of the first people to cross the border, you may have to wait until the driver finds enough people to fill the tuk-tuk. This happened when we first arrived in Laos and we were in a rush to catch the slow boat. We ended up finding a driver who would take us to the slow boat dock for 100,000 LAK.
Things to do in Huay Xai
Huay Xai is a relatively quiet town in the north of Laos. It certainly won't be the main stop on yourItinerary from Laos🇧🇷 However, if you are looking to get away from the crowds for a few days, there is no better option than Huay Xai.
Without a doubt, the most popular thing to do in Huay Xai is theGibbon Experience🇧🇷 Imagine sleeping high in the treetops, zip lining and being surrounded by the amazing Laotian jungle. Well, that's exactly Gibbon's experience. It's expensive, but I've only heard good things about this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
The main reason why people spend the night in Huay Xai is to take the2 day slow shipforLuang Prabangthe next morning. Huay Xai seems to be only catering to those travelers taking part in this long journey. The inns here are simple and no-frills. Just FYI, if you're going on the slow boat, be sure to arrange a packed lunch. This must be done the night before because it is IMPOSSIBLE to do it in the morning. Restaurants will be very busy preparing food for other travelers.
For a cool night in Huay Xai, I recommend climbing the 100+ steps to the impressive Wat Chomkao Manylath. There is a great view from here where you can watch the sunset over the Mekong river. Be sure to cover your shoulders and knees so you can also take a walk around the temple.
How to book cheap transportation in Laos:12Ir a Asia(Video) CHIANG MAI to HUAYXAI to LUANG PRABANG - HOW WE CROSSED THE THAI-LAOS BORDER // [VLOG #008]
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