Luang Prabang to Chiang Mai -- HOW?

Jul 23rd, 2014, 01:26 PM
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Join Date: May 2014
Posts: 33
Luang Prabang to Chiang Mai -- HOW?

Is there anyway to get from Luang Prabang to Chiang Mai that doesn't take long and avoids a plane? We're going at the end of August and are flying around a bunch ... Would like to avoid another flight but time is limited. Brilliant ideas?
blairfell is offline  
Jul 23rd, 2014, 02:16 PM
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I can think of a route, but it takes days... take the boat from LP north to a town not too far from Chiang Rai, then bus from Chiang Rai. There is a speedboat that can do it in a day, but it is unsafe.

Another option would be to take a bus from LP to Vietianne then cross the Thai border nearby and take a bus to CM.

Both of these are quite time-consuming... I'd fly.
Kathie is offline  
Jul 23rd, 2014, 02:32 PM
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I wouldnt recommend the speedboat, my brother did it and said he'd never felt so unsafe. We took the slow boat, and saw many speedboats fly by with grim looking passengers.

I'd fly too, the airports in both LP and CM are close to town, small and easy to navigate.
sartoric is offline  
Jul 23rd, 2014, 06:32 PM
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Flying is the easy way. If you have limited time I would cut CM off. Its just a mega touristy city. Nothing special about it.
Prachuap is offline  
Jul 23rd, 2014, 07:34 PM
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We took the slow boat from LP to Houey Sai, Laos. Then you cross the border to Chiang Kong, Thailand. For us getting thru immigration took quite a long time. From there there are buses that go to Chiang Mai. The boat trip is two full days. You leave LP around 7 am and spend the night in a lodge along the way. then most of the next day to get to the border.

I disagree with the poster who said to skip CM..I enjoyed it the two times we spent time there.
yestravel is offline  
Jul 23rd, 2014, 09:35 PM
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Here's some images of the boats, fast and slow...

CM is enjoyable providing you plan your stay properly, otherwise it's just like Bangkok on a smaller scale...

Crossing the road in CM, especially in the moat area, which is a v.big area, can be quite exciting.
LancasterLad is offline  
Jul 23rd, 2014, 10:52 PM
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Time is the key. Depends if they have 3, 5 or 7 days on the ground in northern Thailand. You really need 5+ to see much.
Prachuap is offline  
Jul 23rd, 2014, 11:45 PM
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As your time is limited flying would seem the logical option as it would only take an hour or so. Although it is not the most interesting option!

The next quickest option would be to hire a fast speedboat which would take 7-8 hours to get to Huay Xai , from where you would need to cross to Chiang Khong ( check what time the immigration post closes). You would probably need to stay overnight in CK unless to could arrange transport in advance to CM. The trip could take longer as you are travelling upstream in the rainy season. We spent a couple of hours in a fast boat on the Nam Ou river which was about my limit. Uncomfortable, cramped, bumpy ride and deafening noise ( take earplugs !)

Larger boats will all take two days to make the same journey stopping overnight in Pakbeng ( a charmless place if ever there was one!) The only difference in boats is comfort. The public boats are sometimes overcrowded and usually uncomfortable but do present to opportunity to observe local life close up. You could get a "mid range" boat which will afford you more space and greater comfort, either hiring it for you sole use or by buying a seat from an agency in LP. There is also the option of one of the luxury cruise boats like Luang Sai.

Is the boat trip worth it? Maybe. The first time I did it was some 20 years and we travelled through pristine forest and it was quite beautiful. The second time was in 2007 and we found that the banks of the Mekong had been decimated in many places by the slashing and burning of the forests.

The other, possibly quicker way would be by bus, although I imagine you would have to change somewhere along the way and probably travel overnight ( may not be the best option in the wet season) . You can probably find info on this option by searching on somewhere like
crellston is offline  
Jul 24th, 2014, 04:34 AM
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Thanks everyone. We're rethinking doing both. I'm going to ask the forum in a different post which we should do.
blairfell is offline  
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