Our Road to Laos began in the Thai city of Chiang mai. The idea that we had and that we were finally able to carry out, was to reach Laos, sailing with the Mekong River. A river that we have enjoyed in different places. The first time we sailed down the Mekong it was in the Golden Triangle, a border marked by this majestic river that separates the countries of Thailand, Laos Y Myanmar.
So if the first starting point was Chiang mai, the last Thai town was Chiang khong. The goal was to get to Luang prabang through other locations such as Pakbeng.
The trip to Laos
Our journey to the heart of Laos, Luang prabang, lasted two days. And I think that if you travel early, it is one of the best and most beautiful options to get to the country.
During the four hours that the trip lasted until Chiang khong, we were able to enjoy a landscape marked by karst mountains such as those of Krabi.
We spent one night in Chiang khong, since our ship, or more boat, left the next day from the other shore, already in Laos. In this small border town there is not much to see or do, except have a nice dinner and have a few beers. The entire town is marked by the road that runs through it, and on the other side, the physical border of the Mekong River.
From Chiang khong until Huoeixai, first locality of LaosThey only separate several minutes. Those who take time to cross the river Mekong by boat, at the ridiculous price of one euro. Huoeixai is the official border crossing to enter Laos. The visa is obtained on arrival at the border post, where the most important thing is to carry dollars. The price of the visa was $ 35, a recent passport-size photo is also required.
The first stop the ship made was in the Laotian town of Pakbeng. It is a somewhat heavy journey, although the scenery that accompanies it is well worth it. Especially the sensation of feeling in the middle of nature. And also, an almost unexplored nature on both sides of the shore, with tropical forests where, in many of them, nobody or almost nobody has crossed.
So IMPORTANTTake some food with you, as you won’t get to Pakbeng until sunset, where you’ll sleep. We take with us enough food for the noon hour and to have a snack. Don’t forget water, take water, fruit, etc. And save all the plastics so you don’t throw anything into the river.
This first journey to Pakbeng takes about seven hours.
The journey from Huoeixai until Pakbeng It can be heavy, but the landscapes on the banks of the Mekong They are impressive. Laos It has a significant percentage of primary forests and during the journey you go through places and jungle that it seems that no one has ever crossed before. Feeling of satisfaction of crossing places where the hand of man has not yet modified anything.
Pakbeng is located halfway between the border post of Huoeixai Y Luang prabang.
This small town has a single street parallel to the river, full of places to eat, and accommodation. There is nothing else, but it is an obligatory stop because at night you cannot navigate through the river Mekong. This is due to the high number of rocks that cross it and the strong currents, since there is no type of light that can indicate the way and help your navigation.
This small place has earned a very bad reputation among travelers and Laotians, since before arriving the Laotians themselves advise not to give your backpack to anyone who wants to help you on the pier, as they say that there are many robberies. Although from our experience, everything was great, no inconvenience, and the people were nice.
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Nor is there much to see or do in this small town, just have dinner, share experiences with other travelers, and enjoy a placid bed until the next day that you will continue on your way to Luang prabang.
The ship no longer stops at Luang prabang as it did before, now it stops at about five kilometers. This will force you to take another complementary transport in a kind of tuk-tuk station that is on the pier where the boat stops. In fact there is nothing else and it is the only option to get to the city. The price is closed, two euros, and without the option of haggling in a shared tuk-tuk.
There is another option to arrive from Huoeixai until Luang prabang, and it’s the bus. VIP buses in Laos are like intercity buses in Europe.
Another destination from Huoeixai it is Luang nantha, important trekking center in northern Laos.
There is only one boat a day from Huoeixai until Luang prabang, at least in 2013, and due to the attraction that it has become for tourists, it is still preserved.
The boat has around 90 seats, if one day there is a lot of demand for travelers, they usually put another boat, but sometimes they overload it.
Then some tips about PakbengThey may seem exaggerated, but it is what Laotians themselves advise about this small town;
-Check that the windows of the accommodation are well closed to avoid unwanted visits during dinner time.
-The keys to the room must always be carried with you and check that the door is left properly closed.
-Try to bring valuables with you.
-It is said that sometimes you can find very friendly people who after a while of conversation and some beer offer opium to smoke, this they do to steal you once you are under the influence of this drug.
-Never teach or give a passport to anyone, sometimes they have run away with him.
Despite all the recommendations it is always important that common sense prevails, it is possible that in Pakbeng people are not as other Laotians describe. But it is also possible that thefts such as those described above have occurred on occasion. It is true that many travel guides talk about the Pakbeng pickpockets.
Laos travel insurance
Don’t forget about travel insurance when you go to Laos. Situations can always happen in which you have an accident, need a medical transfer or even medications. And a medical bill in Laos, especially if you have to go through a hospital can be expensive. We tell you what you have to take into account when looking for the insurance that best suits your trip in this link, Laos Travel Insurance.
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