Border Bureaucracy – Laos to Thailand

When the time to leave Laos came, I had several options. I could fly from Luang Prabang to Chiang Mai in Thailand, I could get a bus or I could get a slow boat. The cost of a flight struck that one off my option list so it was between a boat or a bus. I opted for the bus but I would strongly advise others to take a boat. Here’s why.

The bus to Chiang Mai cost me 280,000 kip which is about what the boat would cost you. It was an overnight bus and took 12 hours to get to the border. Unfortunately, it was not a sleeper bus, it was a normal sitting bus. I cannot sleep when upright so this was a problem for me but the bigger problem was actually the state of the roads we went on. They were twisting mountain roads in varying states of repair. Sometimes the bus hurtled around corners with such force that my head smacked against the window. Other times, the bus hit potholes so big that I was catapulted out of my seat and into the ceiling. It was an incredibly unpleasant experience that I would not want to repeat. At one point, I actually laid out in the floor as it felt more stable than sitting in a chair. I wasn’t the only one doing it either. That’s why I would recommend you take a boat. The sail down the Mekong will be much more peaceful. My nerves were fried at the end of 12 hours on that bus.

Anyway, we arrived safely at Laos immigration and got stamped out of the Country after paying a $1 overtime fee because it was the weekend (fee also charged if you leave after 4:30pm). Once stamped out, we were ushered onto a boat in order to cross into Thailand via the Mekong river.


It felt very authentically unstable but it carried the passengers and our luggage across into Thailand without any problems.

On the Thai side, it was the standard form filling in and photo handing over procedure except this time, no fee. UK passport holders are part of Thailand’s visa waiver agreement so you get 15 days for free when you cross over a land border (30 days if you arrive by air). Once stamped in, it was onto another bus for the 7 hours to Chiang Mai.

Yet another utterly uneventful border crossing report and I hope they continue to be this dull. Approx 20 hours in total for this particular journey.

My lesson learned here though is, TAKE THE BOAT!


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