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Chiang Khong

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Chiang Khong (เชียงของ) is a small town in Chiang Rai Province, Northern Thailand. It is mainly visited as a stop-off point en-route to Lao, and is the Thai counterpart to the Lao border town of Huay Xai, just across the Mekong.

In mid-December 2013 a new bridge (the fourth Thai-Lao friendship bridge) was opened across the Mekong linking Chiang Khong to Huay Xai in the Lao province of Bokeo, replacing the previous ferry crossing. The Bridge has not been kind to CK as now many tourists travel between Laos and Chiang Rai without the need for an overnight stop in CK. This is a shame, as Chiang Khong is a laidback and lovely small town that's well worth a relaxed visit.

Following the opening of this bridge a new bus route has started running from Chiang Rai through Chiang Khong to Bokeo. Chiang Rai to Huay Xai / Bokeo via the bridge takes around four hours and costs 130 Baht/75000 kip. The highway continues to Luang Namtha and to the Chinese border at the Boten-Mohan checkpoint, but most tourists traveling into Laos take the slow boats running daily from Huay Xai through Pakbeng to Luang Prabang.

Chiang Khong gained some modest fame by being the home of British cyclist Alan Bate, who broke the Guinness World Record for the fastest circumnavigation of the Earth by bicycle in 2010. Though there have been recent unsubstantiated challenges to his claim, it being suggested that some of the journey was taken by pick up truck! In the village he has opened the "The Hub pub", "Hub bicycle museum", and the "Funky Box Hostel", all situated in Soi 2.

One notable thing about Chiang Khong is its ethnic diversity, including Thai, Laotian, and hill tribe people, which results in three separate calendars and a variety of festivals held throughout the year.

The best time to visit is from October through the Thai New year festival of Song Kran in April.

Most reviews are now totally out of date, so come and spend a day or two in Chiang Khong and be suprised!

Get in[edit]

From Bangkok Nok Air offers twice daily flight+minivan service from Bangkok to Chiang Khong v.v. by flying with Nok Air from Bangkok to Chiang Rai and transferred on a minivan to Chiang Khong (approx travel time: 3 hours). This can be booked directly from their website.

From Bangkok Sombat Tour Company have overnight buses from Mor Chit, leaving at 7pm and arriving in Chiang Khong at 7am. The price is 592 baht. If you don't speak Thai it may be easier to arrange this through a tourist agency.

From Huay Xai in Laos the ferry boat crossing is no longer open to foreigners. The only crossing is at the new border/bridge 10 KM south of town. From Huay Xai town or bus station a songtheaw/minibus to the border is 10,000/15,000 kip. Once you pass Laos Immigration you can take a shuttle bus the 2KM to Thai immigration for 25 Baht. If you are travelling by bicycle please note it is not allowed to cycle over the friendship bridge. You also have to take a bus, transporting your bike on the bus costs 100B per bike. The price is fixed, but it might be possible that you only pay for the transport of your bicycle without having to pay extra for your own ticket (so it will be 100 B instead of 125B per person + bicycle). The bicycle will be transported inside the bus. From Thai immigration a tuk tuk to Chiang Kong is 50 Baht per person with min 4 people, more for less than 4 people.

If you are coming by the main highway, heading for Laos, there is no need to go till the last stop. Ask to drop you at the crossroad to the Friendship Bridge 4 (5km before Chiang Khong), and then walk/hitchhike/tuk-tuk remaining 2km to the border. There are also 4 buses per day from the close by new bus station to Huay Xai (see Get Out). Tuk-tuk drivers will try to charge especially high rates since they know you have little option. According to Thai border officials the border does not close until 22.00 PM. The written time schedule may say 22.00, but in fact you can't cross the bridge after 20:00 because no buses still run. After 16:00, there is an overtime charge of $1 to pass through Laos immigration.

From Chiang Mai by minibus for 250 baht, by green bus (departure 8.30am, 1pm and 5pm) for about 200 baht or by public bus is 150-270 baht. More buses go to Chiang Rai for 94-263 baht (3-4h) where it is easy to take a bus to Chiang Khong (see below).

If you're traveling from Chiang Mai to Chiang Khong and you want to detour to Chiang Rai on the way to see the White temple and Black temple, travel early to Chiang Rai, and then make sure catch the red bus to Chiang Khong (65 baht, 2 hours) before 3PM. Then stay at Chiang Khong for one night before crossing into Laos, where the slow boats to Luang Prabang depart from Huay Xai around 11.00 every day.

From Chiang Rai the red non AC local buses go regularly every half hour from 6.00 AM to 16:30 PM alternating from platforms 6 and 9. (Feb 2020) Chiang Khong to Chiang Rai leave hourly for direct route from 0500 to 1500 whereas Chiang Khong to Chiang Rai via Mae Phong leave hourly from 0430 to 1545. The trip takes 2-3 hours and cost 65 baht (Feb 2020) and is good fun - an excellent and inexpensive way to experience real Thai life (agreed, it's great, and the price is still accurate in Feb 2018!).

By bus from other major cities in Northern Thailand and Isaan. Daytime and overnight buses run directly from Bangkok's Northern Bus Terminal (Moh Chit) to Chiang Khong every day. There are also 5 overnight buses from Moh Chit which leave at 19.00 pm and arrive at Chiang Khong the next morning at 8.00 am, and one daytime bus which leaves Moh Chit at 7.00 am and arrives in Chiang Khong at 20.00 pm.

Get around[edit]

      • No more crossing by river to Laos; tourists must use the Friendship Bridge. Chiang Khong has gotten quieter since the bridge opened in December 2013. With the crossing into Laos made easier, fewer backpackers and travelers are staying in Chiang Khong. This is a small Thai town that now has too many hotels and guest houses, so there is no need to book ahead; there are many places to stay and reasonable prices for rooms everywhere. The food is cheap and locals are very friendly around town. Tuk Tuks remain expensive, though.

The riverfront area can be seen on foot but it's worth getting a tuk-tuk or taxi for the trip out to the bus station. If you want to venture around Chiang Khong the best way is to rent a bike or motorbike to visit local villages or travel along the banks of the Mekong. Bicyles can be rented from the Hub Pub for 100 baht per day. Motorbikes (manual & automatic) can be rented for 200 baht a day (which also includes a basic map) from the Baan Fai Guesthouse.

See[edit][add listing]

The Hub Bicycle Museum

Chiang Khong is often passed through by hordes of tour buses from Chiang Mai on the way to Laos but seldom visited and definitely overlooked. Like many border towns it is bustling with trade yet is tourist friendly without being shamelessly commercial. The pace of life is easy going, and although it could be said that there is little to do in the town itself, close to town you can visit the Opium Museum in the Golden Triangle and the various towns, temples and Hill Tribe villages along the way.

Inside Town[edit]

  • Ban Thai Lue (Ban Hat Bai) on the way to Chiang Saen 30km away from Chiang Khong is a weaving village, very interesting to visit by motorbike. The road along the Mekong offers stunning views, must see.
  • Chinese Nationalist Soldier cemetery, (just outside Chiang Khong on the way to the Golden Triangle).  edit
  • Giant catfish museum on south of town close to Baanrimtaling Guesthouse 200 meter. The fisherman boats park along Mekong there. Jump with them to tour the Mekong for one hour. Nice to see local living there.
  • The Hub Bicycle Museum, Tedsaban Soi 2 (less than 1 km north of the city center, look for the signs along the main road), +66827651839 (). 4pm - late night. Alan Bate, Guinness World Record holder for the fastest circumnavigation of the earth by bicycle, has an interesting collection of different bicycles and related things. Adjacent to The Hub Pub and Funky Box Hostel. Coordinates: N20.267401, E100.404391. Entry free. (20.267401,100.404364) edit
  • The small port itself is bustling and you can watch the locals load their sampans with goods of all kind to be ferried to/from Laos.

Temples in Chiang Khong:

  • Wat Sri don Chai
  • Wat Sob som
  • Wat Prakeaw
  • Wat Luang
  • Wat Hat Krai
  • Wat Hou weing
  • Wat Tung Duk
  • Wat Tung Duk (Old temple only female nun)

Outside Town / Day trips[edit]

Doi Pha Tang, Phu Chi Fa the most beautiful view on mountain, Sakura flowers on Doi Pha Tang on January to February, all pink color on mountain! Chinese Restaurant there is good food.

  • Mountain Viewpoints Daytrip. Rent a motorbike, drive around 60 km to Doi Pha Tang, visit the famous gate of Siam, have breakfast on top of the mountain, drive another 20 km over great mountain road to Phu Chi Fa. Can easily be done in 8 hours. OSM has the locations listed. (20.22825454,100.369741) edit
  • Nam Chang Dam. A nice (have) day bicycle tour to the dam and the lake for fishing and swimming. The trip is about 7 km one way, goes up and down but with out serious slopes. Take the road south of the 7-Eleven/Bus Stop away from the Mekong. After about 100m (N20° 15.419 E100° 24.294) go left and follow the road around a small hill and then towards the bigger hill. (20.22825454,100.369741) edit
  • H'mong & Lahu Village, (Take road behind the street of distric offic, turn left at the gas station , follow ~10km). in the small town of Gyu Gaan. You can visit individually via motorcycle/car or contact 'Asian Oasis' for stays at the Lanjia Lodge inside the village and can arrange tours. The recommended time to visit is after 2pm when the villagers return from the fields.  edit
  • H'mong Waterfall, (near to H'mong village).  edit
  • Golden Triangle. Visit the Golden Triangle by motorbike - 1 day trip (60 km). Be aware that this is a lengthy trip to make by a small bike and it advisable to depart no later than 9am to be back before it gets dark at around 5:30pm.  edit

Events and Festivals[edit]

After the Friendship Bridge#4 open and the passport control move to bridge, Chiang khong plan to be a Bike tour and Marathon Run every year will have many runner everywhere come here for join a Marathon run crossing Mekong river. Please check at the Marathon Running in Chiang Khong!

Also of note are the Dragonboat competitions between the Laotians & Thais during the months of October/November & March/April to celebrate the end of the three month Buddhist lent and the Thai new year. If you're staying close to the riverside during the preceding months you can hear the teams vigorously practising along the Mekhong river in the early morning.

The H'mong also have a variety of Pagan festivals and (infrequently) hold bull fights on the weekends, which although brutal sounding the fights themselves are more of a display of strength (imagine a sumo wrestling match) and seldom last more than 15 seconds. Expect to see and hear vigorous gambling! The Khamu village in the north of the Thai town only 7 Km. have a festival on August. Interesting Festival about the Spirit or Animism of Khmu people.

Do[edit][add listing]

  • Swim in the Mekong, (Thake the soi south of the Kasikorn Bank to the Mekong). There is a small sand beach where it is safe to swim. But don't go too far out. Local here call sunset beach. A lot of kids and parents around here like to practice the kids to swim there. (20.262071,100.408629) edit
  • Rent a motor bike follow the high way 1129 to Chiang Saen is the highlight of the trip. distance 60 km. only to visit Golden Triangle. Can go and back in one day.
  • Visiting a waterfall in Hmong village 10 km. on the west of town. But you need motor bike or bicycle.
  • Relaxing time of the day is walking along Mekong river, see a local exercise at late afternoon. Running, jogging along Mekong is very nice time. Fantastic!
  • Market tour at night if you still not go to bed early this market on the right hand of main street from 7/11 shop near the Bus stop. every night at 11 PM. to early morning market at 6 am. Hmong people and the people on mountain sale all product from their farm.
  • Exploring fresh market opposite 7/11 shop try fruits on season and local food before you go to Laos. Price much cheaper than Laos. Coz all friuts from Chiang Khong send to Laos every day.
  • warning the street dogs around temple are very aggressive.
  • To go to drink at some bar late at night maybe you get problem with officer to check drug.
  • To visit a "Pla Buk" The Giant Catfish place in town at Ban Hat Khrai. Just walk 1.5 km from the main street to the south of town. Turn left at traffic light and walk along road of Mekong to Giant Catfish museum close to Ban Hat Khrai, fee to see a picture inside the museum and fish in aquarium is 50 baht. Local fisher man around there to catch fish in Mekong every day. If you want to see how they catch it, jump on boat with local here to Mekong river. Hand language is very useful to communicate with fisherman here.

Buy[edit][add listing]

There are several ATMs in the town - Kasikorn Bank, GSB, Siam Commercial Bank, Krung Thai Bank and a new machine in front of the 7/11 at the bus station. All banks are closed on Saturday and Sunday but you should be able to use the ATMs. If you are heading to Laos get your money here because in Houay Xai (Laos) the maximum withdrawal per transaction is 700,000kip and fee for ATM in Laos 50,000 kip per time.

Lao currency (kip) can only be officially exchanged inside Laos. Thai banks will not officially exchange Laos currency, but the GSB bank (pink sign on the main road) exchanged Kip for Baht in February 2018. Chiang Khong moneychangers will exchange for a fee (although Super Rich said no in February 2018 and directed us to the GSB Bank). Chiang Khong ATMs will not disburse kip, but both Thai baht and US dollars are easily exchanged in Laos.

  • Visit a small market at Baan Hat Krai village to see catfish for sale and some produce from the jungle, for example mushrooms and river weed from the Mekong.
  • Weaving village at Ban Hat Bai is interesting to visit and buy cotton weaving and silk there. Good quality, local hand made. Thai Lue style and long history of Dai from Southern of China. They move away from China long time ago. Mekong river is transportation. The old ladies in this village love to do weaving. By heart, by love. Grand mother name "Sang" 96 years old. But now she can not do weaving, her daughter in law do the job for her.

Eat[edit][add listing]

  • Padthai Baan Yim. Thai food, cheap and cheerful. Good pad Thai, starting at 35 baht for tofu only. Good pad see ew and great pork & basil. Vegetarians tend to report the food as bland and oily here, though.  edit
  • A Youta sponsored eatery, (between Tedsaban Soi 21 and 23). A small and cheap vegetarian eatery in a family house. Coordinates: N20° 15.240 E100° 24.655 (20.25400407,100.41091919) edit
  • Vegetarian Food. A simple eatery whit small buffet and noodle soup. Coordinates: N20° 16.223 E100° 24.213 ~30 baht. (20.27038,100.40355) edit
  • Rimnam Guesthouse and Restaurant, 166/1 moo 12. River view.  edit
  • Nang Nuan (นางนวล), Ban Hat Khrai, 0 5379 1271. Thai food  edit
  • Bamboo Mexican. Adequate food, quite really friendly owners but not cheap. Half way down main street on river side of the road.  edit
  • Jam House. Far better is the Jam house a another 150 metres out of town on the other side of the road. Great Thai food at modest prices served by a wonderful, if eccentric Thai lady  edit
  • The View Restaurant. The most famous coffee shop of the town is "The View" restaurant and a coffee shop with amazing view. It's locate on the north of the town, on high way no. 1129 same way to Chiang Saen only 10 km. from the down town. The view is great....the prices are even greater!  edit

Drink[edit][add listing]

Chiang Khong has a number of good cafes:

  • Chim Coffee is a small, charming cafe on the main street opposite 7-11. They serve excellent coffees and teas, and the fruit shakes are great, too.
  • Taxi Cafe down near the main bus station
  • Chiang Khong Coffee House
  • Tea-Cha is a small organic tea & coffee house located 3km from town (after Gyu Gaan/towards Chiang Saen) that serves great chilled & hot beverages for 50-60 baht. The owner is very knowledgeable about the locally grown tea and will offer homestays in the latter part of 2012/early 2013. Sit back in the comfortable, open air premises and admire the amazing scenery whilst enjoying a hot/cold cuppa of Thailand's finest tea!

There are many places in Chiang Khong to drink, many bars on street open late at night. The RIN BAR and Chiang Roi are relatively expensive with loud music, but popular with backpackers eager for burgers and chips! The restaurants along the Mekong offer nice places to sit and drink Chang and Singha beers (you'll miss your Beer Lao, though, if you're coming from there!). Some reviews on Trip Advisor point out that it's sensible to check your bill and your change at these places.

  • The Hub Pub, Tedsaban Soi 2 (less than 1 km north of the city center, look for the signs along the main road), +66827651839, [1]. Nice European style bar integrated into the Bicycle Museum. Has a happy hour from 12pm to closing and good prices. Offers western style food, too. Facebook: TheHubPub. Coordinates: N20.267401, E100.404391 . 75-100 baht for drinks, flat 99 baht for food. (20.267401,100.404364) edit now is change the owner. New guy rent a place from Alan and then he open the new pub again!
  • Rin Bar is a small bar on the main street with many European guests, modest food and loud music. Good place to meet traveler. The owner Khun Rin is a local woman who's run this place for many years. Have a fun time in small Thai town if you need to be with other Westerners.
  • Chiang Roi is a Thai-owned bar with live music, popular with Thais and foreigners. Beers started at 100 baht in Feb 2018. Located on the main street opposite the Bamboo Mexican food Restaurant. Here nice to hang out.

Sleep[edit][add listing]

Accommodation is wide and varied and you can stay at numerous places within your budget.

  • Ruan-Thai Sophaphan, 83 Moo 8 Sai Klang Rd., Tambol Vieng, Aumpur Chiangkhong, Chiangrai57140, 66053791023 (). The owner is a legend. This place is a lovely huge wooden house overlooking the Mekong - from the river walk it looks like it takes up a whole city block. Super friendly staff. In May 2016, they told me dorm accommodation is also possible possible for 100 baht. In February 2018, it looked super quiet - I'm hoping the owners were on vacation, and that it's still open. Please update, travelers! Mobile: 080-4970929, 081-0350061, Coordinates: N20.2673956, E100.4053223 150-300 Baht.  edit
  • Lanjia Lodge, 347 Kiewkan village, [2].  edit
  • Funky Box Hostel, Tesaban Soi 202, +668274565109 (), [3]. checkin: 10:30am; checkout: flexible. Adjacent to The Hub Pub and from the same owner is the Hostel with a spacious 16 bed dorm with 1 fan, 3 ensuite bathrooms and firm mattresses. Right in the village center and just 100 meters from the main road. Free WiFi, blankets and towels. Funky bikes to hire by day. British cyclist, Alan Bate has great information on what to see and do by bicycle, in and around Chiang Khong. Pick ups/drops to/from the border for 500 baht. Coordinates: N20.15267401, E1012404391. 20 baht per bed.. (20.264401,100.403364) edit
  • Ban Fai Guesthouse (บ้านฝ้าย เกสต์เฮาส์), 108 Mu 8 Ban Wiang Kaew, Tambon Wiang, +66 5379 1394. 9 rooms. They are adding new air-conditioned rooms. There is only one room for 100 baht left and most rooms start at 150 baht with shared bathroom and fan. 3 bed dorm is 100 baht pp. On the river and has a Doi Chang coffee shop with free wifi. The owner claims this guesthouse in Chiang Khong some fifteen years ago. They also rent manual and automatic bikes for 200 baht a day and include a basic map of the surrounding area. Free bicycles. 100-350 baht.  edit
  • Ban Rim Khong (บ้านริมโขง), 278/3 Mu 7 Ban Had Krai, Tambon Wiang, +66 8 1281 9966 (fax: +66 5379 1269). 4 rooms 200-400 baht.  edit
  • Baanrimtaling Guesthouse (บ้านริมตลิ่ง), 99/4 Mu 3 Ban Sobsom, Tambon Wiang, +66 8 46155490 (), [4]. 28 beds. Rooms, bungalow and a dorm, overlooking the Mekong river. The lovely Thai manager speaks excellent English and provides free information about visiting places around Chiang Khong. Free WiFi, blankets and towels. Good location close to bus stop and daily market of Chiang Khong. Popular for Thai to run along the Mekong river every late noon. Dinner available, as well as both Thai and Western breakfast. Free bicycles. They also rent automatic bikes and included a basic map of the surrounding area. Can organize a transfer to the border every morning. 100-450 baht.  edit
  • Ban Tammila (บ้านตำมิละ), 113 Mu 8 Tambon Wiang, 0 5379 1234. This is a charming wood guesthouse along the Mekong, right next door to Ruan-Thai Sophaphan. Tammila is a local woman who's run this place with her family for years, and her hospitality is wonderful. There are rooms in two buildings, both surrounded by gardens. The older building has fan doubles with very basic ensuite bathrooms (Western loos but bucket flush, good hot water, lizard visitors) and Mekong views for 450 baht (Feb 2018). The newer building has posher rooms with AC and updated everything for 700 baht (Feb 2018). Wifi doesn't reliably reach the rooms, but is good in the common area / restaurant, which is a comfortable and lovely place to spend time. Free bananas all the time. Tammila bakes her own bread, and the western breakfasts (not included, but reasonably priced) are fantastic, as are the fruit shakes. The restaurant is only for guests, at least in the low season. 400-700 baht.  edit
  • Chiangkhong Green Inn., 89/4 Moo 2 T.Wiang, +66-53-791009 (), [5]. Dorms, single, double, triple rooms 200-1000 baht.  edit
  • Boom House. Nice style, but be advised to check visiters reviews. Everything in wood, including the terrace with view over the Mekong. Coordinates: N 20° 16.255 E 100° 24.357 from 250 baht. (20.270913,100.405182) edit
  • Rimnam Guesthouse and Restaurant, 166/1 moo 12. 350-500 baht.  edit
  • Chiang Khong River View Hotel, 141 Moo 12, +66-53791375, [6]. Hot showers, river views, some rooms with air-con. Nice owner and friendly staff 350-600 baht.  edit
  • Nam Khong Gueshouse, 408 Moo 1, +66-53655102.  edit
  • Chom Khong Guesthouse, +66-53655661.  edit
  • Day Waterfront Hotel, 789, Saiklang Rd., Soi 11, Ban Huawiang, T. Wiang (Along the north end of the river road look to the left and you'll see it on the hill across from 'Boom House'), [7]. Large rooms, overlooks the river, wonderful pleasant hosts. Free fast Wifi (10mbit), free self-serve morning snacks and coffees, bikes available, hot shower, fans and air-con available, laundry service for 5 baht a piece. 500-1200.  edit

Stay safe[edit]

Many travelers are told false information when they arrive on the local red bus. The village center is not 2km away, just one. They're also told that certain places are 3-4km away or that they're not nice places. This is because many tuk tuks are paid commissions to take people to certain guesthouses. The best thing to do is take a breather, gather yourself and check google maps when you arrive. There are 35 guest houses here in town, and they start along Mekong river just 500 meters north of the bus stop. Just enjoy yourself - CK is a small place, with lots of choices for everyone.

There have been reports from travelers that there are wild/feral dogs that come out late at night. There are dogs about, household dogs and temple dogs too. This group of dogs is the owner don't want to take care of it. Must take care yourself!

Get out[edit]

Outside the village, you can follow the Mekong, through the mountains to the ancient town of Chiang Saen, the founding town of Lanna culture, Buddhism and the place where the Emerald Buddha was discovered. Heading South, you can also visit the little know Phu Chi Fa, missed by most foreign tourists.

Timetable of the international bus from Chiang Khong new bus station to Huay Xai (Bokeo)
  • Huay Xai. To get from Chiang Khong to Huay Xai there are two options. Take a tuk-tuk to the border (the drivers ask 150 to 200 THB), a shuttle bus from Thai immigration to Laos (20/25 THB), and from Lao immigration share a tuk-tuk to Huay Xai (100 THB or 25,000 kip). The second option is to take tuk-tuk to old bus station (30 THB), then take the local bus going to Chiang Rai and ask the driver to stop at the new bus station (10 THB), and from the new bus station take the international bus (which is coming from Chiang Rai) to Huay Xai bus terminal (30 THB). From there you still need to take tuk-tuk to your final destination in Huay Xai. The international bus to Huay Xai will leave from the Chiang Khong new bus station at 9:00AM, 12:00AM, 17:30PM and 18:30PM (As of May 2015. This is the information given from the bus station and the timetable is clearly written at the ticket counter. Still needs to be verified that the new bus station has in fact started to operate).
The slow boat (from Huay Xai to Pakbeng and then Luang Prabang) is advertised to leave at 10:30AM, but always leaves around 11:00-11:30AM, so it's possible to cross the border and catch the boat on the same day. It's better to cross the border as early as possible, though. Immigration opens officially at 8:00AM, but sometimes it can open as early at 7:30AM with the first bus across the bridge at 7:45AM. The Thai Immigration office is reasonably quick. The Laos Immigration office issuing visas will be an experience in Laos Bureaucracy. The whole process can exceed 2 hours in peak times (most of that occurring on the Laos side). Getting to the slow boat requires an exit stamp from Thailand Immigration (about 10 minutes), getting a bus to Laos immigration, getting a Laos visa (can exceed 90 minutes in peak times), and going upriver 10 km by tuk-tuk.
Laos visas are more economical if bought with US dollars instead of baht. As of Feb 2014, the minimum cost is $30 USD ($31 on holidays) to enter Laos on a 30 day visa on arrival. Be sure to bring passport photos to avoid extra costs (can be obtained in Chiang Khong). See Houay_Xai / Crossing the Border for more details.
The boat will not leave without you (they take all comers), but sometimes with 120 people on a boat licensed for 90 it can be rather unpleasant. It's best to get there for 9.30, get a ticket and find a seat, then go and get some coffee and a box lunch from a cafe up the hill, as the boat usually only serves crisps and instant noodles.
Note that since 12th December 2013, the border has been moved 10 km South of Chiang Khong (coordinates:,100.435832&hl=en&gl=us). Tuk-Tuks will ask 50 THB/pers, then after leaving Thailand you need to take a bus 25 THB/pers + 40 THB extra time (weekends), you will pay again 5 THB extra time at the Thai custom if you come late or during the weekend. On the Laos side they ask 1$ extra time charge evening and weekend, then you'll pay 100 THB to get a minivan from the Laos building to Houay Xai.
Prices for the two day slow boat to Luang Prabang vary. As of Feb 2014 tickets bought in Chiang Khong cost 1250 baht. or they can be bought for 1000 baht at the boat pier. Thai baht, US dollar and Lao Kip are all accepted at least as far as Luang Prabang.
Recommendation: If you are crossing the border and getting the boat on the same day, there is no need to buy a boat ticket in Chiang Khong. You will pay more in CK than in Laos for the same service. A more upmarket trip, like the Shompoo cruise, has to be booked in advance, though.
Songteaow Run up to Chiang Saen from the main road around the post office for 100 baht. Around 8 am is the best time to go but be warned that they often (when there are no locals) stop half way up at Hard Bai from where you will have to hire a full Songthaew for 500 baht. Alternatively, but with far less spectacular views, go firstly to Chiang Rai (65 baht) and then to Chiang Saen (37 baht).
  • At least one First Class / VIP bus per day goes to directly Bangkok. They depart at 3pm, take 12 hours and cost 688 baht. (Updated 2013-05). A ticket office is at N20° 15.294 E100° 24.426.
From Chiang Khong to Bangkok buses depart from two different locations, but all nearly at the same time - 3-4 pm, arriving Bangkok early morning next day.
First location (Green Bus) is just opposite the fresh market and 7Eleven, where the buses to Chiang Rai start. They have only 1st class buses, cheapest at 688 baht. The Green Bus company also has few buses a day to Chiang Mai.
Second location is 999 bus company, about 500 m walking on the main road towards Laos/Chiang Rai, just before the bridge, on the right side of the road. They have 2nd class bus departing at 15:15, fare is 535. The bus conditions are almost the same with 1st class, just the ticket price would not include some junk food. Tickets sell out quickly, especially for 2nd class. Usually after buying ticket, you can drop your bag at the bus company.

After 16pm no more big buses leave Chiang Khong for Chiang Mai or Chiang Rai. But at the counter near the bus station, there is a woman offering minivans to Chiang Mai/Chiang Rai for 250 baht. She has cheated us: we paid 250 baht each and were told minivan will stop in Chiang Rai and then continue on to Chiang Mai, but instead it just terminated in the old bus station of Chiang Rai, and refused to go any further. After demanding to drive to Chiang Mai, minivan driver threatened me with knife. Demand a ticket with your destination marked clearly, if you use this minivan service. Create category

This is a usable article. It has information for getting in as well as some complete entries for restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please plunge forward and help it grow!