Chiang Khong (เชียงของ) is a riverside border town in Chiang Rai Province, Northern Thailand. It is mainly visited for its ferries across the Mekong to Huay Xai in Laos.
The village is suffering for the effects of the new bridge to Laos and the ferry crossing to Laos now being forbidden for foreigners, which has seen many tourists pass straight through.
By boatFrom Huay Xai in Laos, ferries used to make the short trip across the Mekong. However, the Friendship IV Bridge crossing to Laos is now open and the previous Chiang Khong Immigration Office and Ferry is closed. The new Immigration Office is near the bridge, about 10 km south from Chiang Kong and about 20 km from Huay Xai.
Chiang Khong Old Bus Station
Chiang Khong New Bus Station is only private bus but the public bus run from the old bus station
- Buses run from major cities in Thailand, including Isaan.
- From Chiang Rai, red local buses depart regularly (mostly every half hour) from 05:00-16:00. It should take about 2 hr, but the driver may take it slow or stop for dinner, so plan for at least 2½ hr.
- From Chiang Mai, take a minibus (250 baht) direct or the "Green Bus", which makes many stops (200 baht). Public buses cost 150-270 baht. Or go to Chiang Rai (94-263 baht, 3 hr) by bus and then take another bus from there.
- Daytime and overnight buses run directly from Bangkok's Northern Bus Terminal (Mo Chit) to Chiang Khong every day. About five overnight buses leave at 19:00 and arrive at 08:00; and one daytime bus leaves Mo Chit at 07:00 and arrives at 20:00.
You can also rent a bike or motorbike to visit local villages and drive along the banks of the Mekong.
- Hmong Village (10 km)
- Nam Chang Dam for fishing and swimming (7 km)
- Thai Lue village with cloth weaving (15 km)
- Waterfall (near to Hmong village)
- The Chiang Khong Fishery Station. They inseminate and breed the largest fresh-water fish. Fingerlings bred here have been released in several rivers.
- Visit the famed Michael "Mr Jackey" Jacklood cover artist at his restaurant in town to hear a selection of fruity glam-rock cover songs
- Learn Thai cooking or have a Thai sauna at Baan Rimtaling
- Visit the Golden Triangle by motorbike - day trip (60 km)
- Visit a rustic village near the Mekong Village.
- The Hub: bike museum run by professional cyclist Alan Bate that has a great selection of bikes you wouldn't see elsewhere. In the centre of town. As of September 2016, it was under new management and closed for renovations. It intended to re-open in October 2016.
Temples in Chiang Khong:
- Wat Hat Krai
- Wat Hou Weing
- Wat Luang
- Wat Prakeaw
- Wat Sob Dom
- Wat Sri Don Chai
- Wat Tung Duk
Lao kip can only be officially exchanged inside Laos. Thai banks and ATMs will not deal in it and money changers in Chiang Khong charge a fee. The Lao bank in Huay Xai and the ATM there will give kip. Thai baht and US dollars are readily accepted and exchanged in Laos at good rates.
Lao visas are cheaper if bought with US dollars instead of baht.
Bamboo MexicanGreat food done right. Really friendly owners.
Name unknownRun for 25 years by a very nice lady who talks with farangs and provides good food.
Nang Nuanphone: +66 53 791271address: Ban Hat KhraiGood Thai food.
Baan Pak PonLarge, very clean rooms with fan or air-con, hot water, Wi-Fi, veranda with scenic river views. Family-owned by very friendly people.
phone: +66 84 6155490address: 99/4 Moo 3Dorms, single, and double rooms, and bungalows, all with hot showers. Overlooks the Mekong. Free pickup at bus stop. Free ride to border in morning. You can learn Thai cooking here or have a Thai massage. Free Wi-Fi. English spoken. Ask for Maleewan.
Ban Fai Guesthousephone: +66 53 791394address: 108 Moo 89 rooms.
Ban Rim Khongphone: +66 81 2819966address: 278/3 Moo 7Four rooms.
Ban Tammilaphone: +66 53 791234address: 113 Moo 8Nine rooms.
phone: +66 53 791009address: 89/4 Moo 2Dorms, single, double, triple rooms.
Chom Khong Guesthousephone: +66 53 655661
Chiang Khong River View Hotelphone: +66 53 791375address: 141 Moo 12Hot showers, river views, some rooms with air-con.
phone: +66 093 278 2928address: 114 Tesaban Soi 2 T.Wiang16-bed dorm 150 baht/night. Single 250. Twin/Double 350.
Nam Khong Guesthousephone: +66 53 655102address: 408 Moo 1
Rimnam Guesthouse and Restaurantaddress: 166/1 Moo 12
- Feral dogs can be a problem at night.
- If you book a slow boat to Luang Prabang, the guides will try to encourage you to switch to the bus for the same price. This is a scam. The bus is cheaper and you lose out on a pleasant boat trip while they pocket the difference in the fare. Do not believe their horror stories of floods, mosquito hordes, unexpected third nights spent on the slow boat, and crooks in Pakbeng.
- Chiang Mai is the obvious next destination for those coming from Laos.
- For those keen to leave Thailand, Laos - most guesthouses can arrange a package deal with food and overnight accommodation in Pakbeng for the trip to Luang Prabang, but it is fairly simple to travel independently. It's worth crossing the border a day early and spending the night in Huay Xai to be up and ready to catch a boat down the river first thing in the morning.
To get from Chiang Khong to Huay Xai there are basically two options.
- Take a tuk-tuk to border (the drivers ask 150 to 200 baht), shuttle bus from Thai immigration to Laos (20/25 baht), and from Lao immigration shared tuk-tuk to Huay Xai (100 baht or 25,000 kip). It is not allowed to cross the border bridge by foot or bike or motorcycle. Only car transport or shuttle bus is allowed. Be aware that while the border is open from 06:00 to 22:00, the buses only operate from 08:00 to 18:00 which could leave you stranded. The shuttle bus only drives when a reasonable amount of passengers arrive, so you might experience up to an hour to wait after Thai emigration to cross the bridge.
- Second option is to take tuk-tuk to old bus station (30 baht), then take the local bus going to Chiang Rai and ask the driver to stop at the new bus station (10 baht), and from the new bus station take the international bus (which is coming from Chiang Rai) to Huay Xai (Bokeo) bus terminal (30 baht). From there you still need to take tuk-tuk to your final destination in Huay Xai. The international bus to Huay Xai will leave from the Chiang Khong new bus station at 09:00, 12:00, 17:30, and 18:30 (As of May 2015. This is the information given from the bus station and the timetable is clearly written at the ticket counter. Still needs to be verified that the new bus station has in fact started to operate).
- The slow boat (now only one) is advertised to leave at 10:30. But it always leaves around 11:00 to 11:30. A good time to cross the border to go on the slow boat is 09:00. The Thai Immigration office can be quite congested at the 08:00 opening. Getting to the slow boat requires an exit stamp from Thailand Immigration (about 5 minutes), crossing the river (about 5 minutes), getting a Laos visa (about 20 minutes), and going upriver about 1 km. Walk or tuk-tuk. Prices for the two-day slow boat to Luang Prabang vary. Tickets bought in Chiang Khong cost 1,180 baht. However, as soon as you clear immigration in Huay Xai they can be bought for 950 baht and allegedly even cheaper at the boat pier itself. Thai baht, US dollars and Lao kip are all accepted at least as far as Luang Prabang.
- Golden Triangle - 55 km by road, pop into Chiang Saen on the way or cruise up the Mekong instead.