After going to Chiang Rai from Pai for a few days (changing buses at Chiang Mai, since there is no direct route to Chiang Rai), I did one more stop further up North before heading over to Laos.
Mae Salong is a great little mountain town with the most spectacular views you will see! I am not even joking! It was ABSOLUTELY BEAUTIFUL! It is a bit out of the way and other than the spectacular views there is not much the place has to offer, but if you want to go to a very local place on the top of the mountains this is the place for you. To get there from Chiang Rai, take a bus to Mae Chan (about one hour for 25 Baht) and change into a tuk tuk bus for 60 Baht, another hour into the mountains. If you don't get car sick you will love the ride, it is a huge build up with all the great mountains and valleys and tea plantations until you arrive at Mae Salong. It's not a backpacker town so don't expect a hostel or even a cheap room. Luckily I was travelling with someone at the time and we shared a room at 'My Place' a great Guesthouse/Hotel with an amazing view to wake up to in the morning. We found this to be the cheapest with best value, 400 Baht per night for a twin bed room, bathroom and (hot!) shower. Click to Read More (Button Below Image)
What a beautiful double rainbow leaving Pai
Stunning blue temple in Chiang Mai, so much intricacy! Probably one of my favourite Temples
From Mae Salong get a tuk tuk bus back to Mae Chang and the normal bus back to Chiang Rai (like I said it is out of the way, but was definitely worth it for us!) and another bus to Chang Khong, the border town. The bus to Chang Khong leaves every half hour, 6:30am - 16:30pm for 65 Baht. It takes about two hours and is a nice ride through different rice fields and rock formations. Unfortunately we got there quite late, so couldn't enjoy the awesome cheap guesthouse with pool quite as much, but it was a great place to stay at for the night. Nam Khong Guesthouse was 200 Baht per night for a twin bed room with shared shower and toilet right next to the room, and like I said even had a pool! It was all made of bamboo and had a really nice feel to it. Of course with mosquito nets and set into a very nice garden with plants and flowers. The next morning we made our way to the border with a Mini Van for 50 Baht, that we booked through the guesthouse and were dropped off at the Thai Border. Filling out a visa application form for the Laos Visa-on-arrival, handing it over with 30 US$, a passport picture and your passport, you were soon later handed it back with the visa. Now exit Thailand - Stamp - enter Laos - Stamp, and get on a bus for 20 Baht over the bridge. On the other side the tuk tuks are just waiting for you, but their prices are extremely high. We decided to walk away from all the hussle and people and walked down the straight road for about 10 minutes before a tuk tuk picked us up for 10,000 Kip each (a fair price). Half an hour later we arrived at the slow boat pier to take the two day slow boat down the Mekong River to Luang Prabang. It was 210,000 Kip per person for both days and a very comfortable ride! The boat is big, there weren't many people on it and the chairs are old car seats, so very comfortable as well. Personally I loved travelling this way, all the beautiful scenery along the way, the mountains, towns, people working, elefants, etc - a once in a lifetime experience! Even though it seems long, two days on a boat about 6 hours the first day and 8 hours the second day with a layover to sleep in Pak Beng for the night, it was very relaxing and nice with all the views! I would do it again anytime!
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One of the MOST SPECTACULAR views on the top of the mountains in Mae Salong
Waking up to this view every morning at the Guesthouse in Mae Salong
Two day slow boat trip down the Mekong River to Luang Prabang
Amazing views along the boat ride
The driver and locals up front in the boat
Enjoying the views even through the rain, what a beautiful way of travelling