A while back, i wrote this post about the crossing from Thailand to Cambodia at the much maligned border of Poipet. Well after that, the next crossing I was to attempt was the Chiang Kong/Huay Xai border between Thailand and Laos.
While in Chiang Mai, i was trying to decide what to do, either get a bus to Chiang Rai, spend a night or two there and then get another bus on to Chiang Kong, or get a minibus all the way to Chiang Kong and go to Chiang Rai at a later date. My decision was kind of made for me, as i ended up staying in Chiang Mai for more days than I thought, and ended up really needing to get to the border as soon as <my visa was running out!>
So I went to a travel agent and inquired about the minibus for the next day, they offered a number of options, from a minibus to chiang kong, all the way to a combined package including boat to Luang Prabang and accomodation on the way. I decided on the minibus to Chiang Kong and then make it up the rest of the way.
After a very smooth but long minibus journey, i got picked up at 10am and arrived at the border at around 5pm, this included a number of stops including about 40 mins at the White Temple outside Chiang Rai.
Once we got to Chiang Kong, everyone split up, it seemed that everyone was staying in the town for the night and crossing in the morning. I decided that I wanted to cross as soon as I could, so I was dropped off on my own near the border crossing.
If the Poipet border was a chaotic, confusing mess, well the Chiang Kong crossing was the exact opposite. When i got to Thai immigration, I had a few chinese in front of me, I got stamped out and made my way to the boat to cross to Laos, i think the boat was 20 baht <i can’t remember, it could have been 40!>
Once across the Mekong, everyone shuffled out of the boat and made their way up to the Laos immigration building, this was actually busy, with about 10 people crammed round the window. I grabbed an entry card and walked away from the crowd to fill it in. When i had finished, most of the peopple had gone, so I handed my passport, entry card and photos to the guy behind the window…About 3 minutes later another guy shouted my name, even though i was standing right in front of him…When I indicated it was me he wanted, he asked for the Visa fee <I paid in baht 1500> and he stamped everything and i was free to go….So much easier than the last crossing!
So as easy as that, I’m in Laos, and it took me just under 40 mins from getting out of the minivan to taking the picture above. Now i just had to go find a guesthouse and relax for the evening (which again, was very easy!).
I wonder if all the crossings will be like this from now on?…………