After 2 nights in Pai it was back in the mini-van to Chiang Mai for one night where of course we re-visited our favourite vegetarian restaurant (no, we are not vegetarian however this place was so good we just couldn’t get enough!) and stayed back at CM Blue as their clean cheap rooms were too good to pass up.
This visit we were just passing through Chiang Mai and the next morning we were back at the bus stop purchasing tickets for the local bus to Chiang Rai in the very north of Thailand. We were only visiting this town as it was a stop-over on our way to crossing the border to Laos.
Chiang Rai was not a favourite place for us. Actually thats an understatement, it was the least favourite of all places we were yet to visit. All of the rooms we looked at were dirty and the one we ended up staying in was a nightmare. It was straight across the road from a few very dodgy bars where we heard the antics of some Thai women and western men dancing and screaming all night long. It was not fun at all and we decided that one night in Chiang Rai would be enough for us. There was however one place we did want to visit in Chiang Rai– The White Temple.
Up early and back to the bus stop we caught the local bus to the temple and we were not disappointed, it was beautiful and very interesting. This is a much newer and modern temple, very different from any other we have visited. The pictures we took don’t do it justice as it was such a beautiful spot but here are a few pic’s to try and show just how amazing and different this temple is and no matter how many temples you have already visited this one should still make the list:
After finishing looking around the White Temple we headed back to the main road and flagged down a tuk tuk to made our way back to collect our bags. We walked back to the bus stop and we were now looking to head to Chiang Kong where we would cross the border into Laos. We have to say although we did not love our time in Chiang Rai the people were extremely helpful, especially at the bus station. As soon as we would get to the bus station on each of our many visits one of the locals would come up and ask where we wanted to go. They would then find out which would be the best bus for us to take, explain to the driver which stop to let us off at and we would be on our way. We have not come across an easier bus station thanks to the friendly locals.
The bus from Chiang Rai to Chiang Kong was a local bus and we loved it. Windows slid open and we had the wind in our hair as we watched the countryside pass by. The scenery was absolutely beautiful with rice paddies as far as the eye could see. We passed through small villages. The further north we travelled we noticed the roads got dustier, landscape flatter and comfort of living for locals decreased. We are so pleased we decided to do this overland crossing into Laos as it was an adventure in itself.
We arrived in Chiang Kong earlier than predicted (amazing!) so we headed straight for the border. Stamp Stamp and we were out of Thailand. We walked down to a long-tail boat, put our bags in and spent 5 minutes crossing the Mekong River. Then Stamp Stamp – we were in Laos!
Huay Xai, Laos is a small border town with not much happening. We checked in to a lovely guesthouse with clean rooms and warm showers and headed out for some local food. We devoured some noodle soup and it was not too bad at all. We then went for a walk to the boat dock where we purchased 2 tickets to depart the next day on the slow boat to Luang Prabang, a trip that would take 2 days of travel down the Mekong River. Then it was back to the guesthouse just before the evening storm hit and cut out the power .. no power = no lights so it was, after a very long travel day time for some sleep!