Chiang Mai - Luang Prabang


Staff member
Jan 16, 2003
Chiang Khong
Feb 1- 4
A super late start from Chiang Mai & got away from home at 6.00 pm. Night riding is fun if you've got good lights & the Africa Twin's well equipped for this.
My run to Chiang Khong was non-stop & I managed the ride in a very respectable 3 hrs flat, arriving in Chiang Khong at 9.00 pm. The trick being to take routes 1020 / 1153 / 1174 from Chiang Rai; going this way via Wiang Chai & Paya Mengrai is approx 40 kms shorter than my normal & preferred run along the Mekong on route 1129 from Chiang Saen.
In Chiang Khong I stayed at my fave ghouse the Tam Mi La, had a quick bite to eat & a beer at the new Louang Prabang Coffeehouse, run by the same nice guy who's got the sweet SP Ghouse in Ch Khong.

Friday was across the 'khong to Huay Sai. I did not cross over until the mid afternoon, as I missed 2 car ferries going over. If you're not rushed, wait for the car ferry & you can usually get on for just a tip, 100-200 baht, to the skipper. This is cheaper than the 500 baht "gouge" fee they charge for a long tail boat to cross over. The reason I missed 2 car ferries is because (1) I had a bit of a dispute with a smart arse immigration officer at Ch Khong (looking for a bit of tea money) at a guess. He was not happy with my stamped & approved customs papers for the bike & was demanding to see any other bike papers I had. I eventually got tired of his game, & told him to just do his job - inspect my passport, visas & stamp me out. ALL my customs papers were in order & none of his business, and if he wanted to dispute anything about the bike, we could go down town to the Customs office & speak to the boss. Otherwise he should shut up.
That seemed to do the trick.
The reason for missing the 2nd ferry was because I had left my helmet at the Customs office, & just was I was about to ride onto the ferry I remembered the missing helmet, so back off it was & race into town, pick up the helmet & return to see the ferry mid stream in the Mekong. It was another 1 hr before the next car ferry went across & I cooled down nicely by the Khong with a chilled Carlsberg.

I had 2 nights in Huay Sai, staying at my fave Keo Oudomphone hotel, a few kms downstream from the town centre. If you are new in town, the Sabaydee ghouse / hotel, in town, upstream a few hundred metres from the Lao immigration office is possibly the best value for money. I only like the Keo Oudomphone Hotel, because of the extremely nice family who owns it.
At sunset the only place to be in Huay Saiis at the Wung View resort, downstream from Huay Sai. THis spot has the most amazing sunset views over the "khong you can imagine. It also has some pretty amazing attractive female staff. Pooike's my current favourite & a real honey.

In Huay Saiu, my "spare" day was spent riding all the roads & GPS-ing anything of note. I was amazed as I did 85 kms in Huay Sai, and was totally unaware of the maze of new asphalt roads in the hills surrounding town. Almost every hill top has a govt building on, with
a fantastic view of the Mekong!

Next day, Sunday was down the Khong to Pak Beng. As luck would have it I managed to score my fave boat & skipper for the trip (from 2 years ago.) Boat hire was up a nominal 200 baht to 3,200 baht, but with this guy we had the bike in and out in 15 minutes each time and NO scratches to the paint.

At Pak Beng it got a bit interesting as the boat could not berth at the normal pier, due to large cargo boats taking up all the space. I was then unloaded 300 meters upstream, on a nice sandy beach, but then horror of all horrors, facing a steep 100 metres steep 35-45
degree climb of rocks and deep beach sand to get the 220 kgs Africa Twin out. I thought I'll never get the bike up that. At least not without dropping it several times, but the locals were not fazed. I had an army of them (7 Lao small guys) @ 50 baht a head, to push & pull (2 guys with a rope up front) the bike. Incredibly we had the bike up & on the stony road ledge above the beach in about 30-40 minutes. I was impressed & knackered & covered in sweat, but the locals thought it great fun!

A night in Pak Beng is not much fun I can tell you. Of note there is an Aussie girl, Wendy, who's living in Pak Beng with her Pak Beng Laos husband & they've started off a 2nd hand bookshop & cafe. So if you're ever in PB, make sure you take some books to sell, as they sure are going to have a hard time getting stock for sale.

The next day was a full day's ride from Pak Beng to Oudom Sai & onto Luang Prabang. This was approx 350 kms & 6 1/4 hrs ride. My only break was a 30 min fuel & kow pat stop in Oudom Sai.
The 1st 40 kms from Pak Beng are still stony, but after that the road is just about all race track asphalt, for 80 kms into Oudom Sai.
From Oudom Sai too, it is now all asphalt right into Luang Prabang, & a piece of cake to ride. Enjoy it ALL before they get too much traffic on the road.

Keep the power on[8D]