Travelling around Laos

Laos is still so very untouched that I had such an amazing time here. I started by journey by getting the bus from Chiang Mai and crossed the border to Huy Xai. As soon as I saw what was on the other side I was instantly in love. It was so peaceful, no chaotic madness of Thailand and the people just left you alone.

However I did notice that travelling within Laos is quite difficult I mean it’s not that it is difficult it is just that there aren’t many options to get regular public transport. You’re better off just going with the organised tours that they provide because it ends up being cheaper.

You can book most of your tickets from your Guesthouse which I highly recommend. I did notice that the travel agencies took a little bit of commission but it would only be by a dollar. The good thing about the private minibuses and vans in Laos is that the cost of the ticket includes being picked up from your Guesthouse so you don’t have to flesh out any money for a tuk tuk.

Cost of Tuk Tuks

If you do need to get a yuk tuk, depending on how far you are travelling it should really cost you 10,000 KIP. However, if you’re at a border or somewhere where there aren’t a lot of transport around expect to pay a little bit more.

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How to get from Pakse to 4000 Islands in Laos

I have just arrived in Don Det on the 4000 Islands here in Laos and already I can notice the backpackers. It is a touristy destination but you will not be disappointed with the views. There are two ways to get to the island, one that is organised by a tour or by yourself with local buses. If I am being honest with you, it’s both the same price. The only difference is the packaged one is a lot quicker!

Packaged tour

You can get to the 4000 Islands by an organised tour, it will cost you 60,000 and this includes pick up from your hotel/guesthouse. This will only take you up to 2 hours so I really recommend you do this.

Do-it-yourself

So we decided to go on our own because we were too late to book a morning tour. The tours only go in the morning. First off you have to get to the South Terminal in Pakse. If you get a yuk yuk it should cost you 10,000 kip. From there you take a local bus and it will cost you 40,000. It will drop you off at Ban Nakasong. When they drop you off do not get a yuk yuk to the pier, you can walk it. It’s only 5 minutes. You should turn left when you are on the main road and keep going all the way to the end and turn right. You can get a ticket from the counter and it should cost you 15,000 kip for the boat to Don Det.

How to get to Chiang Mai to Luang Prabang on your own by bus or slow boat

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So I was in Chiang Mai and noticed that the tours and packages to get to Luang Prabang was pretty expensive. I miss the days where I crossed borders on my own, so I did a bit of research and set on own to cross the border into Laos.

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Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai

I opted to get the bus from CM to CR, I know you can go straight to Chiang Khong but I decided to take separate buses. I just rocked up to the Arcade bus station, went up to Green bus counter and bought a ticket to the next available bus. Get there early, I managed to get the last seat for 9:30am. This bus ride is comfortable and it should cost you 129 baht, the journey takes up to 3-4 hours.

Chiang Rai to Chiang Khong

Once you hop off your bus at CR, there will be a man yelling ‘Chiang Khong’ next to a red bus. This bus will take you closet to the border for 65 baht.

Chiang Khong into Laos

The red bus driver will assume you want to go to Laos, or he’ll ask you anyway as like me I was the last one on the bus. He’ll drop you off with the tuk tuks and they will drop you off at the border, it’s 4km so pretty far to walk on your own. It’s 60 baht, but I am sure you can barter it lower. Once you go through Thai immigration you get a bus on the other side for 20 baht and it will take you to the border of Laos. Again it’s too far to walk, so better to take this shuttle.

Getting to Luang Prabang from the border

Going through customs is relatively easy, if you arrive after 4pm as I did there is a $1 fee if you’re doing your visa on arrival. It was pretty simple, you just have to fill out some forms, make sure you have a passport photo and they’ll do the rest. It cost me 1240 baht for the visa. Go through customs as usual and then you’ll be greeted by an overpriced tuk tuk. We had to pay 100 baht each, but I am sure you could go lower if you wanted to. I asked to get dropped off at the bus station in Huay Xai, if you want to get the slow boat asked to be dropped off in the centre. When you’re at the bus stop you can ask for a bus that is leaving that night, unfortunately it was booked out for me so I had to get the bus the following morning. It cost me 682 baht. I ended up spending a night in the centre which was pretty beautiful and it breaks up the trip a bit. The bus the following morning was a mini-van and it took 12 hours to get to LP.

Slow boat to Luand Prabang

If you want to book a slow boat, my advice would be to stay a night in the centre and book it from there.   

Summary

Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai – 129 Baht

Chiang Rai to Chiang Khong – 65 Baht

Tuk tuk to border – 60 Baht

Shuttle to Laos border – 20 Baht

Tuk tuk to bus station – 100 Baht

Bus to Luang Prabang – 682 Baht

Total = 1056 Baht