As this is not the easies trip to take we provide you with a step-by-step guide including durations and costs for two people combined.
05.15-05.30 Grab to Bus Terminal 1 (100 THB)
If you don’t stay in walking distance to the bus terminal, taking a Grab is the easiest option as you don’t have to negotiate prices.
06.00-08.15 Local bus to Chiang Kong border bridge (200 THB)
It’s a local bus with no aircon but thanks to open doors and windows it is absolutely fine. The bus goes every hour from 6am to 5pm and costs 65 THB per person to the city of Chiang Kong or 100 THB directly to the border bridge.
08.45-08.50 Bus over bridge (40 THB)
Leaving Thailand is pretty straight forward as long as you still have your departure card from the airport or you fill out a new card. After crossing the bridge with the bus most nations need a visa for 35 USD to enter Laos but as Swiss you can enter visa free for 15 days. There are money exchangers on the Thai side and on the Laos side that change your remaining Thai Bath at a reasonable exchange rate and there is also one working ATM from BCEL on the Laos side that provides you with Lao Kip.
09.30-10.00 Tuk Tuk to pier (40k Kip)
When you are smart you ignore the scammers at the exit and head directly to the ticket booth to get a ticket for the ride to the pier where you can buy your slow boat ticket, water and food. And if you are a bit less smart then you believe the lie that the price for the slow boat is higher in low season, pay 50k Kip extra per person for the boat and overpay the food at their store.
11.30-18.00 Slow boat to Pak Peng (200k Kip)
The ride with slow boat to Pak Peng is a great experience. When sitting on the hot boat we were first wondering why we were doing this. But as soon as the boat took off and the wind cooled us down, we absolutely enjoyed the ride. We observed the life of the Thai and the Lao people at the border of the Mekong river. Watched the fisherman throwing their nets, the kids jump into the water and waved back at them whenever we could. There were two basic toilets on the boat and we could buy water, beers and snacks.
Guesthouse in Pak Peng (50k-200k Kip)
If you want to go super cheap than you wait until you are in Pak Peng to book a private room for 50k Kip for two persons. But you risk ending up in a boiling hot room with cockroaches and a bed you don’t want to touch. But when you are willing to pay a bit more than you can get a pretty nice accommodation. Dinner and drinks we had at the Hive bar which absolutely deserves its Nr. 1 rating on TripAdvisor as we really liked it there.
09.00-17.00 Slow boat to Luong Prabang (200k Kip)
The next day we also spent almost entirely on the Mekong, observing the local life, reading, socializing and catching up on some blog articles until we reached Luong Prabang in the evening.
17.15-17.30 Tuk Tuk to the city centre (40k Kip)
And after a last 10km ride with a tuk tuk we had to say good-bye to our new travel buddies as we finally arrived at our hotel in Luang Prabang.
It was maybe a bit a too long journey. But over all a great experience and we recommend it to everyone who can spare the time for it, as it provides you with an excellent insight into a part of the life of the Lao people. And if you are a little bit patient then you can soon see our Vlog about this trip on YouTube.