Saying Good Bye to Thailand

After one more night in Chiang Mai we said Good Bye to our wonderful guesthouse owners Victor and Thunya and headed off to Chiang Rai.   This time we took an express bus.   The buses leave every hour and it takes just over 3 hours to reach its destination.   The route was pretty scenic as we drove through the mountains.

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Our express bus to Chiang Rai

Our guesthouse Grandma Kaew House  was located about 300 yards from the bus station and we just walked there.  The guesthouse was really clean and our room was very comfortable with crispy white sheets.  There is not much to do in Chiang Rai.  Most people come here to visit the White Temple, and of course it was our reason as well.

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White Temple

The city’s famous Wat Rong Khun  (White Temple) is a unique temple that stands out through the white color and the use of pieces of glass in the plaster.  Designed by Thai artist Chalermchai Kositpipat, and build in 1997, however the construction is still ongoing.  The artist chose white to symbolize purity.

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The bridge the leads to the main building
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The bridge that leads into main building
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It felt like a fairy world
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The hands clawing at the air
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Heads hanging from the tree

The Temple  was  really stunning and glimmering with the glow of the setting sun.

Another attraction in Chiang Rai is the night market.  It was a great place to have dinner and to do some shopping.

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Food at the night market

We only spent one night there and in the morning we took a  local bus to Chiang Khong.  The bus didn’t have an AC, but it wasn’t  needed as most windows and doors were open throughout our journey.

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Our local bus from Chiang Rai to Chiang Khong

 

Chiang Khong is a small town located on Thailand’s side of the Mekong river.  Our Guesthouse Day Waterfront  was very nice with every room having its own balcony.   The owners were the best.  They welcome us with some traditional Thai snacks, coffee and fruit.   If we had more time, we would have stay one more night there.   We had a very enjoyable stay.

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View from our hotel in Chiang Khong

The next day was the beginning of our 2-day journey on a slow boat from Huay Xai (town on the Laos side) to Luang Prabang.   It is one of the highlights for many travelers in SE Asia so it was for us as well.    For this trip we had a choice of using a public boat or a private boat.  We did some research and learned the public boats are very uncomfortable and overcrowded, as there are as many as 100 people on the boat.  Having this in mind we selected a private company Nagi of Mekong.  We couldn’t make a better choice.

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Our slow boat

We only had nine people on board and we got to know each other quite well during our trip.

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Our slow boat

The scenery was very stunning with mountains and rolling hills on both sides of the wide Mekong river.   It was so beautiful and relaxing.

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Blue skies over the Mekong river

The boats can’t travel at night, and everyone had to stop in the only bigger town on the way.   It was an easy stop for us, we our hotel was already booked and we didn’t have to look for one.    Our hotel probably was the nicest hotel in town.

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The boats in Pakbeng
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Our hotel in Pakbeng

We started our next day early in the morning and throughout the day we were indulging in the beautiful views and conversations with our new friends.  We stopped at two different  hill tribe villages on our way.   The people in these villages were very poor and they live there without electricity and any basic conveniences.

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Hill tribe village
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Hill tribe village

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Our last stop was at the Pak Ou Caves.  They were 2 small caves with many Buddhist figures laid out over the wall shelves.

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We arrived to Luang Prabang at around 5pm.    Our tour also included a transfer to our Pakam Guesthouse.

Practical information:

Our tickets from CM to CR cost 185 THB each.   The tickets are 288 THB if it’s a VIP bus.

In Chiang Rai the local bus to see the White Temple cost 20 THB  and to Chiang Khong cost 65 THB.

Entrance to White Temple is free.

The private cruise Mekong of Nagi cost 4600 THB /person.  In our opinion it was well worth it.

We obtained our  Laos Visa on a border.  It cost $35.00 ( prices varies by  country).  We needed one passport photo, luckily we were prepared.