Chiang Khong is a fast-growing town in Chiang Rai Province, Northern Thailand. It is mainly visited as a stop-off point en-route to Lao, and is the Thai counterpart to the Lao border town of Huay Xai, just across the Mekong. In mid-December 2013 a new bridge (the fourth Thai-Lao friendship bridge) was opened across the Mekong linking Chiang Khong to Huay Xai (aka Ban Houayxay) in the Lao province of Bokeo, replacing the previous ferry crossing. Following the opening of this bridge a new bus route has started running from Chiang Rai through Chiang Khong to Bokeo. Chiang Khong to Bo Keo via the bridge takes around four hours and costs 130 Baht/7500 kip. The highway (and buses) continues to Luang Namtha and to the Chinese border at the Boten-Mohan checkpoint. Each month more and more cafe’s,bars and restaurants are opening. They are all within walking distsnce of each other, in the village center. The village was more recently made famous by British cyclist Alan Bate, who broke the Guinness World Record for the fastest circumnavigation of the Earth by bicycle in 2010. In the village he has opened the “The Hub pub”,the free to enter,”Hub bicycle museum”,and the “Funky Box Hostel”. All situated in Soi 2. The interesting thing to note about Chiang Khong is ethnic diversity of the local Laotian, Thai and Hill tribes, which results in three separate calenders and a variety of festivals held throughout the year. The best time to visit is from October through to the Thai New year festival of Song Kran in April. Most reviews are now totally out of date, so come and spend a day or two in Chiang Khong and be suprised!
From Huay Xai in Laos by a short ferry trip (10,000 Kip) across the Mekong (6am to 6pm). UPDATE as of Jan 2014: the boat crossing is no longer open to foreigners. The only crossing is at the new border/bridge 10 KM south of town. From Huay Xai town or bus station a songthaw/minibus to the border is 10,000/15,000 kip. Once you pass Laos Immigration you can take a shuttle bus the 2KM to Thai immigration for 25 Baht. From Laos immigration a tuk tuk to Chiang Kong is 50 Baht with min 4 people, more for less than 4 people. If you are coming by the main highway, heading for Laos, there is no need to go till the last stop. Ask to drop you at the crossroad to the Friendship Bridge 4 (5km before Chiang Khong), and then walk/hitchhike/tuk-tuk remaining 2km to the border. There are no buses from this point to the border crossing itself. Tuk-tuk drivers will try to charge especially high rates since they know you have little option. According to Thai border officials the border does not close until 22.00 PM. From Chiang Mai by minibus for 250 baht, by green bus (departure 8.30am, 1pm and 5pm) for about 200 baht or by public bus is 150-270 bath. More buses go to Chiang Rai for 94-263 baht (3-4h) where it is easy to take a bus to Chiang Khong. From Chiang Rai local buses go regularly (mostly every half hour) from 5.00 AM to 16.00 PM. (Same in reverse direction – Chiang Khong to Chiang Rai local buses leave from 5.00 AM to 16.00 PM). The trip takes 2-3 hours and cost 65 baht. By bus from other major cities in Northern Thailand and Isaan. Daytime and overnight buses run directly from Bangkok’s Northern Bus Terminal (Moh Chit) to Chiang Khong every day. There are also 5 overnight buses from Moh Chit which leave at 19.00 pm and arrive at Chiang Khong the next morning at 8.00 am, and one daytime bus which leaves Moh Chit at 7.00 am and arrives in Chiang Khong at 20.00 pm. From Chiang Khong to Bangkok buses depart from two different locations, but all nearly at the same time – 3-4 pm, arriving Bangkok early morning next day. First location (Green Bus) is just opposite the fresh market and 7Eleven, where the buses to Chiang Rai start. They have only 1st class buses, cheapest at 688 baht. Second location is 999 bus company, about 500 m walking on the main road towards Laos/Chiang Rai, just before the bridge, on the right side of the road. They have 2nd class bus departing at 15:15, fare is 535. The bus conditions are almost the same with 1st class, just the ticket price would not include some junk food. Tickets sell out quickly, especially for 2nd class. Usually after buying ticket, you can drop your bag at the bus company. The Green Bus company also has few buses a day to Chiang Mai. New bus station is being constructed 4km outside of the city, closer to the Lao border
Chiang Khong is often passed through by hordes of tour buses from Chiang Mai on the way to Laos but seldom visited and definitely overlooked. Like many border towns it is bustling with trade yet is tourist friendly without being shamelessly commercial. The pace of life is easy going for the most part (curiously, unlike other parts of the country the tuk-tuk drivers don’t hassle you) and although it could be said that there is little to do in the town itself but if you are willing to rent a bike or car and travel approximately 60 km you can visit the Opium Museum in the Golden Triangle and the various towns, temples and Hill Tribe villages along the way Chiang Khong Fishery Station. The Chiang Khong Fishery Station is able to inseminate and breed this largest fresh-water fish. Fingerlings bred here have been released in several rivers. Chinese Nationalist Soldier cemetery, (just outside Chiang Khong on the way to the Golden Triangle). The Hub Bicycle Museum, Tedsaban Soi 2 (~1km south of the border crossing along the main road take Soi 2 away from the Mekong). Alan Bate,Guinness World Record holder for the fastest circumnavigation of the earth by bicycle, has interesting collection of different bicycles and related things. Coordinates: N 20° 16.044 E 100° 24.262 Entry free. Visit the famed Michael ‘Mr Jackey’ Jacklood cover artist at his restaurant in town to hear a selection of fruity glam-rock cover songs The small port itself is bustling and you can watch the locals load their sampans with goods of all kind to be ferried to/from Laos.