How to get from Thailand to Laos on a budget
Updated: Dec 12, 2019
Traveling from Chiang Rai to Laos and wondering which the cheapest way is?
Then this blogpost is for you!
There are several options to go to Laos and over the border, we chose the local way to save money. Here is a step by step guide on how to do it:
1. Take the local bus from terminal 1 in direction to the border
The bus to Chiang Khong leaves every half an hour Form platform 6 & 9 at the bus terminal 1 in Chiang Rai.
It takes about 2 - 2,5 hours.
Costs: 65 baht per person
2. Take a took took (yes, that’s how they spell it in Laos) to the border
It’s about 4 km to the border, so if you’re sporty enough, you could walk as well.
The took took takes about 10 minutes until you’re at the border.
Costs: 50 baht per person (not negotiable)
3. First stop at the border: check out of Thailand
Make sure to bring USD, as they usually charge extra if you pay in baht. There is a currency exchange counter, but don't forget to check the money you get properly. We got ripped off and got bills with color on it and weren’t able to use them at the border.
4. Taking a bus to the border of Laos
After checking out of Thailand, you need to take another bus to the border of Laos.
You buy your ticket at the orange bus station (see picture) and wait until the bus has enough passengers to leave to the border.
Costs: 20 baht per person
5. Visa on arrival
If you didn't take care of it in advance, you need to fill in your visa on arrival, before crossing the border to Laos.
For German citizens it’s 30 USD and super easy to fill in.
Make sure you have an address for your first stop in Laos. If you haven’t booked any place (like us), just put any hostel there.
6. Getting to the city center of Huay Xiai
After you crossed the border and after paying your visa for Laos, you have to get to the city center.
Right in the entrance hall is a little stall selling tickets to the center and for the slow boat tour. They charge 80 Baht per person to go to the center. We found that quite expensive, so we just started to walk into the right direction in hope to find a cheaper took took on the way. We were lucky and got picked up by two Chinese guys, who took us to the city center - and yeah that was our first hitchhiking experience :)
The stall also sells the tickets for the slow boat to Luang Prabang.They charge 210.000 kip, if you want to save money again, buy the ticket directly at the Harbour (200.000 kip).
If you want to read more about the slow boat tour to Luang Prabang and where to stay in Hauy Xiai, make sure to check out our Blogpost!
Total costs for the border crossing: 135 baht
Other more convenient options:
Book a bus from Chiang Rai to Huay Xiai for 250 baht per person (leaves every day at 10 am and 4.30 pm at terminal 2 in Chiang Rai - you have to get to that terminal as well, so make sure to add these costs)
Book a direct bus to Luang Prabang for 950 baht per person - it leaves every day at 12.30 am as well from terminal 2 and takes 18 hours