We decided that rather than fly from Chiang Mai in Thailand to Luang Prabang in Laos we would take the two-day boat ride from Huay Xai in Laos, a distance of 320km.
Getting to Huay Xai involved a 10 hour van ride (with several stops) which detoured to Mae Sai, the northern most town in Thailand that is situated on the border with Myanmar. In fact, the immigration and customs checkpoint is at the end of the main street. After Mae Sai we headed across to the ‘Golden Triangle’ where the borders of Thailand, Laos and Myanmar all converge. We eventually spent the night in Chiang Khong on the Thai side of the Mekong River.
An early start was required to get us through immigration and to our boat in time for the 10am departure. The border crossing did not open until 7:30am and in true Cliff and Ruth style we managed to get there a little early. Once our departure formalities were completed we boarded a bus that transported us across the ‘Friendship Bridge’ to the Lao border post. Being early had its advantages on this side. Rather the usual crowd of 200+ waiting for their Visa to be processed we had the ‘visa on arrival’ office to ourselves – it was a very quick and painless exercise. The immigration officer was bemused by our New Zealand passport but after a quick conference in the office someone seemed to be familiar with our strange document and all was well. Then it was onto the Mekong for a great two day experience.