From Chiang Mai to Lao: The Slow Boat

So many people around me have been backpacking through Thailand. Some of them also made their way across the Lao and/or Cambodia border. Their stories were all about how beautiful, amazing, fun and must-see the countries are. Never had I heard before my trip how exactly you cross the borders and how much hassle it can be, especially getting from Chiang Mai to Lao..

Throwing yourself in the unknown, not planning to far ahead and not knowing how or when you’re getting to the next destination. After walking into what seemed every travel agency in Chiang Mai, we discovered the safest way to get to Lao was a 2 day boat trip. Now I don’t know if you’ve heard the stories about these boats but I can tell you they made the boat trip look like absolute hell. Small wooden benches, more people than seats, animals everywhere, puking people, boats breaking down and so forth. Not something to look forward to..

We booked a trip that would take us from Chiang Mai all the way to Luang Prabang, Lao, including an overnight in Chiang Kong and Pak Beng. The first day was easy as it was a 4 hour mini-van drive. The town itself was just one street but the road along the river gave us our first glimps of Lao. After a night sleeping in a bug invested room, it was time to cross the border!

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Huge killed grasshopper after some panic..

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With the Thai exit stamp freshly in our passports, we stepped on a small wooden boat with our 20 kilo backpack (well, my bag was 20 kilo after 5 months in Bali..). On full power we crossed the fast flowing Mekong river, arranged our visas and waited to be taken to the slow boat.

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There it was, our transport for the next 2 days. No wooden benches, animals or overloading in sight! Instead we saw relaxing mini-van seats and loads of space, we even had 2 seats per person. 2 Days on the Mekong river with the most beautiful views I have ever seen, wasn’t even close to hell. It was an absolute highlight.

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In between we stopped for the night in Pak Beng. A tiny village that relied on these slow boats full of tourists. With a few (pretty damn good) restaurants, one bar and a curview there’s not a lot to do but hey, we weren’t exactly there to party right?

Pak Beng

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So there we were, Lao! More about our adventures there later on..

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