There are many ways of crossing a border, and I try, over the last years of traveling, many of them, by bike, by bus, by train, by plane even by ferry but this was my first time crossing a border by boat!!
In May 2014 I spend one month in Thailand, in Chiang Mai, studying Thai Massage, and initially my plan was just being in the country for a month, come back home and start some little business with that, but you know…making plans is one thing, and another thing, very different, at least in my life, is to carry on with them… So here I was, after an amazing month living in Chiang Mai, ready to start traveling through Laos, Viet man and Cambodia with a guy I just meet. Day after I decide to join him I talk to one of the girl from my massage school and she also decide to join us in the adventure!!
Because it wasn’t in my plans, I knew from little bit to nothing about those countries, how to get visas, how long I could stay in each of them, what to visit there (yeah, of course, I knew I had to go to Angkor Watt in Cambodia!) Luckily I know a bit about geography so I knew my first step was to get to Laos from Thailand, I start investigating, asking tourist, Google, workers of my hostel and of course I visit some of the millions of agencies you can find in Chiang Mai. That’s how I get to know you could cross the border by boat, through the Meckong River!!!
I knew about that river also, so Its has been used for centuries as a commercial route and because is the one of the largest rivers in Asia, covering Tibet, China, Burma, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. Since I hear it was possible to do it I decide crossing by boat to Laos was my dream!!It is very easy for me to get enthusiastic about things…. 🙂
Me and my two friend start asking prices and possibilities, two days by slow boat sleeping on land, one day speed boat, one day bus plus one day slow boat… We decide, after comparing prices and desires, that we wanted to be as long as we could in the boat, so we choose the two days slow boat. This option, for 1750 baths, included: bus from Chiang Mai to Chiang Khong, dinner, sleeping one night in there, next morning breakfast and transport to the visa point, lunch, transport to the slow boat, that whole day on the boat and stopping at Pakbeng to sleep one night (that night we had to sort it out by ourselves, cos it wasn’t included in the price of the tour, however It was very easy to find cheap places, 3 euros each, even thou the “guide” on our boat told us it was almost impossible and we should book it with him, cos he knew better… well…sure…), another day in the boat and finally arriving at Luang Prabang river side. From there we had to make our way to Luang Prabang city, which is perfectly organize by the locals, you queue, you pay and you get into a tuk tuk.
Got to say…that boat was moving a lot sometimes! And we were lucky it wasn’t all packed up so we could move around, walk along the boat, even lie down and sleep at some point.
If you are planning to cross that border and doubting about how to do it, don’t doubt!! Get a boat!! And enjoy all the way.