For up-to-date official immigration information on traveling to and from Laos, please check more details on https://immigration.gov.la/notice/
YES! Visa on arrival (VOA) is available at Chiangkhong – Houay Xay, Chiang Rai to Bokeo Province (Thailand) and travelers from many countries can get 30-day tourist visas.
● Travelers holding passports from the following countries are not eligible for Laos Visas on Arrival: Afghanistan, Algeria, Bangladesh, Burundi, Cameroon, Congo, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Jordan, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Mozambique, Nauru, Niger, Nigeria, Pakistan, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Sri Lanka, Suriname, Syria, Swaziland, Tonga, Turkey, Zambia, Zimbabwe.
● You need between US$ 40 and US$ 50 per person (all nationalities except Chinese or Vietnamese citizens US$ 20), one passport-size photo (4 x 6 cm), the name of a hotel or guesthouse and phone number. Those without a photo will have to pay an additional fee of about US$ 2. It is recommended to pay in US$ or Thai Baht, but the Visa fee becomes about 1,600 THB which is approx. $48.
● The Lao immigration is very strict on passport validity. There must be at least one full blank page in your passport and there must be at least 6 months validity on the passport. We experienced a few cases where our travelers were refused to enter into Laos for those reasons.
YES! Lao Evisa can be used to enter at Lao-Thai friendship bridge IV (HouayXay, Bokeo province). For more information, please visit the website www.laoevisa.gov.la, the official online platform for foreigners to apply for Lao visa online prior to arriving in Laos.
The Lao and Thai immigration checkpoints at Houay Xay and Chiang Khong both open at 07:30am everyday. If you are coming from Thailand the day of the boat departure, we recommend you to be at the Chiang Khong Thai immigration not later than 07:45am. After, exit and stamp out your passport, you will need to take the mandatory shuttle bus (US$ 2 per seat) to cross the nternational bridge and reach Lao immigration. Our guide will wait for you from 08:00am at the shuttle bus arrival and will help you then to get your visa for Laos.
If you are already in Houay Xay the day of the boat departure, our driver will pick you up at your hotel/guesthouse between 09 and 09:15 am and will drive you directly to our boat.
There are ATM machines available throughout Laos, though they only give you money in Lao kip and cannot always be guaranteed to be working. 2 ATM are available at Houay Xay Lao immigration.
• Most of the more expensive hotels, restaurants and shops will let you pay using your credit card, though some still add on a commission.
• US dollars, EUROS and Thai baht are interchangeable with Lao kip you can pay in dollars or baht and get the change in either Dollars, Baht or Kip.
•Other currencies can be also exchange but it will be more difficult and probably more expensive.
Our boat leaves Houay Xay boat pier at latest 09:30am. Please make sure to respect timing on our meeting point.
We recommend to stay not too far from the meeting point, the best options would be:
• Houay Xay, Lao city border. We arrange pick up from your hotel between 9am and 9:15am.
• Chiang Khong, Thai city border. You must leave your hotel not later than 7:30am and make sure to be at Thai immigration for 0745am, then follow instructions (#4)
• Chiang Rai. It is located 2 hours drive from the Lao-Thai border. Private transfer can be arranged for 80 USD/taxi (3 seats) and 100 USD/minivan (06 seats).
Our boat departs Luang Prabang at 7.00am. Please be at the boat pier by 6.45am at the latest. For this cruise, a continental breakfast is served on board. We can also arrange free pick up from your hotel between 06:30am and 06:45am, please indicate us your hotel name and address. Our boat pier is located at Ban Pakham, opposite T56 restaurant.
Our boat arrives normally before 04:30 pm. That means you will have enough time to continue your journey to another destination on the same day of the boat’s arrival.
The cruise also includes transfer to Lao immigration and/or Houay Xay bus station.
The Lao and Thai immigration checkpoints at Houay Xay and Chiang Khong both close 06:30pm every day.
Right after the boat cruise, you will be able to reach:
• Houay Xay town: our driver will drop you to your hotel.
• Luang Namtha: our driver will drop you to the bus station. You will be able then to take the night bus to Luang Namtha. Departure 06pm, 4 hours drive.
• Chiang Khong town (Thailand): our driver will drop you to Lao immigration office. You will be able to cross the shuttle bus to thailand by your own. Once passing Thai immigration, you will find taxi/tuk tuk easily to Chiang Khong Town.
• Chiang Rai town (Thailand): same process as Chiang Khong. We can also help you to book a private transfer directly to your hotel in Chiang Rai. Price is 80 USD/taxi (3 pax maxi) and 100 USD/min van (6 seats capacity). Count 2 hours drive.
Officially most foreigners from western countries can enter Thailand on a 30 day visa free stay. This means they stamp your passport and you can enter, but you dont need to pay or buy a visa. To do this you need to have an onward flight ticket out of Thailand within one month. If you do not have a flight ticket, you may be refused entry without a visa, particularly if flying into one of the international airports. For more information, see visa page on amazing-thailand.com
During The Cruise
Upstream cruise to Houay Xay from Luang Prabang takes longer (9h) than downstream cruise from Houay Xay to Luang Prabang (7h). Each of the two days are full days on the boat. With comfortable seating and plenty of room. You won’t feel the time too slow. Each day, we must arrive destination before 04:30pm.
The boat comfortably seats maximum of 32 passengers and we are making sure each passenger has plenty of space to relax. You can easily stand and walk on the boat.
We don’t have limitation on weight and size on our boat! You can bring what you want and need for your trip! However, we advise you to pack an overnight bag for your overnight in Pakbeng. We can store the larger bags safely on the boat. The staff sleep on the boat as well. It will be more convenient and easier for everyone.
Yes, of course. The boat is equipped with fire extinguishers, first aid kit, and life jackets in adult and children sizes. A boat mechanic travels on every cruise. Our tour guides are also trained in basic first aid safety procedure.
From March to May is the hot season. It is generally hot and very dry. But during the river cruise, water and wind refresh enough the temperature on the boat.
From June to November is the rainy season. It may rain for a few hours during the day, and most of the night. The weather is still quite warm, and often hot and sunny. In case of rain during the cruise, the boat is fully equipped to keep you dry.
From November to February it is the cold season. Temperatures can drop to around 15 degrees during the day, and even lower overnight. A jumper or jacket is recommended for the mornings and the evenings. There is no best time of year to come to Laos; every season has its pros and cons. The rainy season obviously has rain fall to contend with, but the scenery is lush and green, the rivers high, and the local produce is fresh and abundant. There are as well often fewer tourists during this period. That can make the cruise experience even better and more relax.
It is advisable to wear loose, light clothing, preferably cotton. We advise you to cover your legs and arms because of insect bites. Remember to take appropriate sneakers, as the terrain can sometimes be slippery due to rain. The sun can be very aggressive at certain times of the year so a hat, sunglasses and sunscreen are welcome. From December to January the mornings can be very cold so bring a sweat with good socks. Be respectful of the locals and do not wear tight-fitting or revealing clothing. The locals may be offended.
The visits can be difficult to access, so it is advisable to wear good shoes.
We advise you to have your own insurance as claims can be long and complex.