My Chiang Khong & 2 Brothers On Tour.

Discussion in 'Touring Northern Thailand - Trip Reports Forum' started by DavidFL, Apr 27, 2019.

  1. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator
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    #1 DavidFL, Apr 27, 2019
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2019
    It's been a busy month for me in Chiang Khong with visits 2 of my brothers on separate trips, with just a 5 day break in between.

    They've both been to Thailand multiple times, riding bikes with me.
    One is from Oz with his wife & the other is from the UK with his partner; and both of them are bloody fantastic couples.
    As they had not spent time in Chiang Khong since I moved here after my 3 decades in Chiang Mai, the masterplan was just base ourselves in Chiang Khong to soak up the good life, see how big brother was going in Chiang Khong. What was good about the place? It was bloody hot & wasn't necessary to do a lot of riding this trip, just a few day time meanders & hang out together by that mighty river with a fantastic opportunity to reconfirm our brotherly love, understandings and appreciation of life.
    I've been overseas from Oz for 40 years now & my brother in the UK has been in the UK almost the same length of time; so we've all been a part a lot, but we all still have a wonderful bond between us & understanding relationships; and both their trips worked beautifully such they truly appreciated Chiang Khong & my decisions love here after so long in Chiang Mai. Thanks guys.

    Both brothers rented a 650 VStrom from Mr Mechanic & were completely happy with the bike and service.
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    Brother one had the misfortune to have me still riding the D-tracker, as the Vstrom was not quite ready when he arrived.

    Brothers two on the VStrom at Chiang Khong.
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    First stop with the brothers was in Chiang Mai to catch up with my son Jason & reunite our little family.
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    Plus a dinner with the ex, Meow, aka Happy Go Lucky, the singer; & still a wonderful woman - time has well and truly healed the relationship..
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    A gentle Mr Mechanic reminder to look after their bike pre trip
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    On the road then & with both brothers it was a hot ride up 107 to Fang - Tha Ton - Mae Chan - Chiang Saen - Chiang Khong & so avoid all the rod construction & traffic on R118.

    There are two regular pit stops I prefer to use going Chiang Mai - Tha Ton - Chiang Khong
    1. Coffee MIlk @ Fang
    2. Mong Doo Nam in Chiang Saen.

    The Coffee Milk @ Fang is a big bright clean fresh aircon coffee shop with good parking right outside the door.
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    and it is almost exactly half way between Chiang Mai & Chiang Khong going via R107 & Chiang Saen.

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    You can check it out here on GTR
    Fang Restaurants

    More to come..
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  2. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator
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    The other regular pit stop is Mong Doo Nam in Chiang Saen, and as luck had it with brothers # 2 we hit it in the evening after closing, so it was the ex To Be # 1 Bar next door, & then a glorious night ride over to Chiang Khong on Paradise road.

    The Mong Doo Nam, closes at 5PM
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    Chiang Saen Restaurants

    Chiang Khong most people pass right on through & don't spend more than a night in town, but the town has lots of charm & nice places to hang out at and / or visit.

    Chiang Khong Accommodation

    For both brothers the place to stay is Tammila Gh in room # 12, the GTR "Honeymoon suite."
    Room # 12 has an amazing view of the Mekong - one of the best you can get anywhere & is unbeatable value for money at 700 baht a night.
    GTR-CRW_2614.

    Chiang Khong Accommodation

    My # 1 favourite all time GH in North Thailand, the Tammila is low key, charming, a place with a soul. The sort of place you just like to rest & hang out at to rejuvenate & feel good relaxing. It is not a high pressure business orientated establishment. The ambiance is wonderful & it is popular with NGOs working on the Mekong, so you can meet interesting people from time to time.

    Tom Fawthrop @ Tammila
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    Tom's claim to fame: Tom Fawthrop Media – Journalism

    The Tammila Garden
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    Right on the riverside, from the Tammila you can see the sunrise over the Mekong in the mornings, or a full moon in the evenings should you be lucky enough.

    Sunrise over the Khong from in front of the Tammila
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    A Tammila breakfast with a view
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    A regular morning view over the Mekong from Tammila = it is a gem of a spot for breakfast & watching the world go by.
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    The Chiang Khong Riverside
    Right in front of the Tammila is long shady boulevard that is perfect for afternoon strolls, for kms along the river in the shade.
    There is nowhere like this on the Mekong on the Thai or Lao side that is in the shade in the afternoon.
    On the Laos side all the riverside towns are in the afternoon sun, and on the Thai side all the towns are wide open river banks with no shade, Chiang Khong is the winner with a steep river bank & riverside buildings that provide shade in the afternoon to walk along the river out of the sun. The sun in Chiang Khong drops below the hills to the west mid-late afternoon to provide a nice shady boulevard for walking. If you only ever ride your bike down the main street & don't pop down to the river foreshore you will never see this.

    Some riverside pics with beautiful big trees
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    Just a short walk down stream from Tammila is the Tha Pha Tan river port.

    Tha Pha Tan is the original river port for Chiang Khong. Situated in the centre of town, it once served boats between Chiang Saen & Luang Prabang. Nowadays it is busy for small boats going back and forwards between Chiang Khong and Houei Xai, for Laos people who come everyday to stock up on supplies from the market in Chiang Khong - veges, fruits, drinks, dry goods ++

    You can ride your motorbike straight down here & park riverside to observe the business going on. Then at 5PM every day a small restaurant - bar beer opens up right beside the water to have a drink & or bite to eat, BBQ-ed fish is the house specialty, it's dirt cheap, beer is cold, & the ambiance 5-star for a one star price sitting right beside that mighty river. Again there is nowhere else like this on the Mekong, where you ride / drive right down to the river with your vehicle on a concrete road, park exactly riverside, sit and have a feed or a drink.
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    The spot is unique - don't miss it if you're staying in Chiang Khong for a night.It really is a highlight of staying in Chiang Khong. Take your time and linger longer.
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    Danny from Rin's Bar also frequents the Tha Pha Tan night spot on some nights
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    The visit of brother # 2 coincided with Songkran festival & a stage with a beer garden plus ferris wheel was set up for Songkran.
    Over a few coldies we witnessed the erection of the ferris wheel at night.
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    The Leo PG gals were most obliging for a photo. Up from Phrae for the event, they were uni students from Rajabhat in Chiang Rai on holidays, earning a few extra baht for college next year. How sweet and industrious I thought.

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    More to come....Chiang Khong has a few hidden gems well worth checking out.
     
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  3. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator
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    #3 DavidFL, Apr 28, 2019
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2019
    Chiang Khong Attractions & Side Trips

    A Mekong sunset picnic

    For both brothers they agreed one of the highlights of the trip hanging out in Chiang Khong was to do a sunset cruise of the Khong.
    Brother # 1 who is a bird photographer was impressed with the birds flying along the river at dusk. Stopping on the big white sandy bar in the river he suggested wouldn't it be fantastic to have a picnic mid river on the sand bar at sunset.
    Unfortunately events over took us & he didn't get to do the trip, but we certainly did with brother # 2 a couple of weeks later.

    You can only do this in the hot dry season when the river is down low & the big white beaches are exposed in the Mekong. It is a surreal 5-star experience sitting out there in that mighty river surrounded by peace & tranquility. We took a table & chairs to sit on the sand bar, our own food - BBQ-ed fish, sausage, baguettes, Mexican burritos plus wine, Beer Lao & whisky.

    It was a totally superb experience & one that should be on everyone's list of things to do in the hot season.

    Some pics

    Sunset on the river
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    An island sand bar view
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    Captain Jack Sparrow the boat man to contact at Tha Pha Tan pier
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    Food for the "Sunset Kings of the Khong."
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    The super happy squatters on the Khong.
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    How cool is that sitting out in the Mekong having a picnic at sunset!

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    A celebratory jump & confirmation that the older and heavier you get, some don't jump so well.
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    but how good is life.

    There's also an option to pick up some beer Lao on the way to the island.
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    we didn't say no.

    Behave yourself on board and you can also get to skipper the boat back too.
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    Happiness in the Mekong @ sunset with brother #1 & his wife.
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    The big picture - a 360 view of the sand bank island.


    Sunset @ the 4th Friendship Bridge
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    This Mekong sunset picnic @ Chiang Khong is one of the best, most enjoyable things I've done in all my time here.
    It's easy to do & inexpensive.
    Go down to the Pha Tan pier & book a boat early via Captain Jack Sparrow. His wife runs the restaurant on the pier, but it does not open until 5PM. So you need to organize it all the day before.
    How long do you want to go on your trip - it can be a couple of hours if you do a full loop of the island opposite Chiang Khong, go down to the bridge & then stop at the island on the way back. Or you just go straight to the island, 20 minutes away & set up your table & chairs, then enjoy watching the sun go down from the middle of the Mekong!
    The table & chairs we used came from Captain Jack Sparrow's restaurant, as did the BBQ-ed fish & sausage. The ice & soda also came from Captain Jack Sparrow.
    We supplied our own whisky & wine, Beer Lao we picked up on the way.
    Baguettes came from Tammila GH & the Burritos came from the Bamboo Mexican.

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    A GTR favourite: chicken, cheese, bacon baguette from Tammila GH.

    It's all very easy to do & have an absolutely brilliant time in the Mekong at sunset - how many of your mates can ever do this? Seize the opportunity & do it!
    Contact Captain Jack Sparrow at the Tha Pha Tan pier in Chiang Khong.
    Google Maps

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    More of Chiang Khong to come..
     
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  4. DavidFL

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    Chiang Khong Attractions & Side Trips continued.

    Street Art

    There are several locations around town with some nice street art. They're are some cool spots for nice selfies or photos.
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    upload_2019-4-28_21-54-49.

    The main locations
    Google Maps

    Google Maps

    Google Maps


    Wat Phra Kaew is the oldest temple in Chiang Khong & the grounds are quite photogenic. GTR-DSC_0994.JPG

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    Chiang Khong out of town attractions to come..
     
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  5. blackb15

    blackb15 Ol'Timer

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    Looks great with really good photos and ideas were to visit and stay my next visit.
    Safe riding
     
  6. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator
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    Chiang Khong attractions out of town - Tai Lue museum, weaving & the 100 year old house.

    On R1020 15 kms south of Chiang Khong is the Tai Lue village of Ban Sri Dornchai.
    Sri Dornchai has a very strong community proud of their heritage & they have 2 wonderful little Tai Lue museums, some excellent weaving & a fine old 100 year old house that is still being used for every day living..

    The Lue Lai Kham museum has featured on GTR before here
    Chiang Khong - Khamu New Year - The Tai Lue Lai Kham museum - a CK meander
    and
    On the road with Destination Thailand TV part 8
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    It is a really cool place with a very informative history of the Tai Lue peoples and their migration into North Thailand from China.
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    The story is worth knowing if you ride around the North regularly & want to understand a bit about the different ethnic groups & towns you ride through. Not every town is "Thai."
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    Some of the weaving on display is award winning & highly valued.
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    There's also a nice coffee shop behind the museum over looking the rice paddies.
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    Whilst hanging out at the Lue Lai Kham Museum a group of female students were practising the traditional Lue dancing & we were fortunate enough to catch some ob vdo


    Huan Euay Kham - The 100 year old house
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    is the oldest house around and has featured on GTR before here
    The Oldest House Around
    Over 100 years old it is still used as an every day house that you can walk around & take photos.
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    Mae Dokkkaew Weaving is directly opposite the 100 year old house
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    has featured on GTR before here https://www.gt-rider.com/se-asia-motorcycling/threads/the-oldest-house-around.14025/
    Mae Dok Kaew is a fabulous woman and you can always have a lot of fun with here if you take your time to chat.
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    more Chiang Khong attractions to come..
     
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  7. Rivo

    Rivo Member

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    Great report David, I've got a lot of exploring to do up your way
     
  8. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator
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    #8 DavidFL, May 10, 2019
    Last edited: May 24, 2019
    Chiang Khong attractions - riding the spectacular mountain roads south of town.

    Chiang Khong is blessed with a fantastic collection of mountain roads to ride south of town.
    There are 5 beauties
    1. Huai Laeng
    GPS-Map005.

    2. Phaya Phipak, the Big Dipper
    GPS-Map007.

    3. Lao U
    GTR-Lao-U Road.

    4. Phu Chi Fah
    GPS-Map008.

    5. Pha Tang
    GPS-Map006.

    6. Singapore Road
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    They have all featured before on GTR here

    1. Huai Laeng

    Huai Lang / Laeng Another Steepest Road - Wiang Kaen / Chiang Khong

    2. Phaya Phipak, the Big Dipper
    R4018 The Phaya Phipak road
    On the road with Destination Thailand TV part 8

    3. Lao U
    A short GT Loop
    Doi Pha Tang - a meander. Chiang Mai - Chiang Kham - Chiang Khong return.

    4. Phu Chi Fah
    On Phu Chi Fah, Pha Tang Roads, Great Panoramic
    Phu Chi Fa - Doi Pha Tang - Mae Hong Son

    5. Pha Tang
    Doi Pha Tang - a meander. Chiang Mai - Chiang Kham - Chiang Khong return.
    A Top End Meander Chiang Mai- Chiang Khong Return

    6. Singapore road
    .
    The Sensational Steep Huai Kuk - Pha Tang Loop - Singapore Road

    Proximity
    The closest one to Chiang Khong is Huai Laeng. The turn off is on R1155 49 kms south of Chiang Khong.
    Phaya Phipak links R1020 & R1155. The turn offs are 50.9 kms south of Chiang Khong on R1020, or 76 kms south on R1155.
    Phu Chi Fah is on R1093 & the main turn off is 78 kms down R12155 from Chiang Khong.
    Pha Tang is off R1155 & the turn off is 54 kms south of Chiang Khong.
    The Singapore Road turn off is 51 kms south of Chiang Khong on R1155.

    Stringing them all together for a day's ride is a bit much. It maybe possible if you want to ride like a maniac all day, just focus on the road & not see much; or you can skip out a couple & just meander along, enjoying the scenery & mountain atmosphere. The best option for an over night stay is Phu Chi Fah: Phu Chi Fah Accommodation

    To be updated...a start before it gets lost again..
     
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  9. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator
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    #9 DavidFL, May 21, 2019
    Last edited: May 22, 2019
    Chiang Khong attractions - riding the spectacular mountain roads south of town continued.

    The masterplan for the day: take route 1020 south, do the Big Dipper & check out the amazing banyan tree
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    The tree has featured on GTR Before
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    R4018 The Phaya Phipak road

    My bother & his wife, both top botanists from Oz are looking forward to a tree inspection.
    It was hot, hazy & (errh) foggy, when we set off down the highway in 40 degree Celsius plus heat.

    It's 48 kms from Chiang Khong to the Big Dipper turn off, R4018
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    generally flat, fast flowing 4-lane

    R4018 then soars up into the mountains
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    The forestry look out is on the peak of the mountain
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    And that magnificent tree....
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    well it had been pruned, butchered at the forestry department look out.
    We were all stunned. Shocked. Terrible savagery.
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    Why?
    To make space for a nice pavement quadrangle? WTF
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    Needless to say, we didn't stay long & moved onto the village view point for a cold drink & gather our thoughts.
    The old communist Hmong village on the ridgeline is called Phu Long
    upload_2019-5-21_22-45-40.

    Take a break here to enjoy the view, have a drink & check out the old run down museum with photos of the old communist fighters from the village.

    The viewpoint with a missing Phu Chi Fah in the background
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    The "museum" exhibition room, run down it is, but take a look inside. There's some nice history displayed.
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    From The Big Dipper it was straight across to Phu Chi Fah
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    In the heat & smoke we opted out of the hike to Phu Chi Fah & settled for a cuppa ice coffee ++

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    Total distance from Chiang Khong to Phu Chi Fah via the Big Dipper = 73 kms, with an elapsed time of 3 hours 50 minutes = an easy half day.
    More to come....
     
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  10. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator
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    #10 DavidFL, May 23, 2019
    Last edited: May 24, 2019
    From Phu Chi Fah north along R1093, the road runs along the border.
    upload_2019-5-23_23-46-48.

    GPS-Map020.

    upload_2019-5-23_23-47-14.

    It is a beautiful undulating winding road & ride
    upload_2019-5-23_23-55-5.

    It is 27 kms to Pha Tang & another mountain viewpoint over looking Laos.
    upload_2019-5-23_23-56-4.

    This view point has featured on GTR before here
    Doi Pha Tang - a meander. Chiang Mai - Chiang Kham - Chiang Khong return.

    It's a hike to the top at Pha Tang & it is steeper more demanding than Phu Chi Fah, if you want to have a go.
    upload_2019-5-23_23-56-23.

    At Pha Tang, on R1093 there are a couple of great little Chinese restaurants, close together by the Pha Tang road junction. Take a break here & you can enjoy some good fresh Chinese food.

    Location
    Google Maps

    From Pha Tang you have 2 options
    1. Singapore road a narrow winding extremely steep concrete road
    The Sensational Steep Huai Kuk - Pha Tang Loop - Singapore Road
    or
    2. The main road & the amazing 14 kms descent on R4029 down to R1155
    upload_2019-5-23_23-15-46.

    upload_2019-5-23_23-19-41.


    Once you get to R1155 it is another 16 kms to Wiang Kaen city.
    From Phu Chi Fah to Wiang Kaen is 53.7 kms
    upload_2019-5-23_23-30-13.


    upload_2019-5-23_23-32-47.

    Most of your day is done & you're back on the flat.
    Wiang Kaen is 30 kms from Chiang Khong.

    If you've still got time on your hands, then at Wiang Kaen you can slip out to Kaeng Pha Dai, the Mekong end of the road
    Pha Dai - Wiang Kaen - The Mekong End Of The Road

    gtr-img_5124-.

    upload_2019-5-23_23-38-35.

    More Kaeng Pha Dai to come, plus the best Mekong Talad Nut market on the Mekong.
     
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  11. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator
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    #11 DavidFL, Jun 1, 2019
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2019
    Back on the case....

    Chiang Khong attractions out of town - Kaeng Pha Dai & the weekly Talad Nut @ Ban Champong.

    South East & down stream from Chiang Khong off R1155 are two wonderful attractions that you can check out to / from a ride to Pha Tang / Phu Chi Fah / the Big Dipper etc.

    Kaeng Pha Dai, the Mekong end of the road is 44 kms from Chiang Khong & 14 kms from Wiang Kaen R1155.

    The Ban Champong weekly "Talad Nut " is on a Wednesday & Saturday, with the main market on a Wednesday & a minor one on the Saturday. The Saturday one was only started because the Wednesday was such a huge success that they thought there was a need for a 2nd one, but it is weak compared to the Wednesday one, when hundreds of people come from Laos by boat. It is the best "Talad NutÏ have ever seen and is fantastic to see all the different peoples come from Laos by boat to do their shopping in Thailand. There is also a section for poor Lao people to come and sell produce that is interesting to see the items they bring for sale. The Ban Champong market is 23 kms from Chiang Khong, 7 kms before Wiang Kaen. You should go to the market as early as possible to see the people arrive from Laos by boat = 6.30 - 7AM eta at the market!

    Kaeng Pha Dai the Mekong end of the road

    Kaeng Pha Dai has featured on GTR before
    Pha Dai - Wiang Kaen - The Mekong End Of The Road

    The end of the road at the Khong

    On the road with Destination Thailand TV part 8

    Fang - Chiang Khong Loop

    Bike Rent?

    For brother # 1 we rode out to Kaeng Pha Dai as an easy day trip & for brother # 2 we did it as a boat trip from the Ban Champong Talad Nut. Rode to the market at 6am, hung out at the market for a couple of hours, then took a boat from the Wednesday market downstream to Kaeng Pha Dai in the fog 'n smoke, had an early lunch, then boated back to Champong pier & rode home to Chiang Khong.
    If you're in Chiang Khong on a Wednesday morning, then I'd recommend ride to the market, then boat to Kaen Pha Dai, boat back & ride back to Chiang Khong. However if it not a Wednesday, then just ride to Kaeng Pha Dai. Please yourself, but the boat option is always there at Champong or even Huay Luk, on the Mekong, 7kms past Wiang Kaen.

    Some Kaeng Pha Dai photos with brother #1
    upload_2019-6-1_14-32-51.

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    Wit brother # 1 we lucked out on the day with a group of Hmong kids from a school in Wiang Kaen on an outing to play by the Mekong for the day.
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    To be updated...
     
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  12. Eoin Christie

    Eoin Christie Ol'Timer

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    A fantastic set of reports, David - Thank you.
    I first visited Chiang Khong 15 years ago with my wife and daughters. We took a slow boat down to LPB, then bus via Oudomoxai, LNT and Muang Sing to Xiengkok, followed by a long tail back down to Houayxai / Chiang Khong.
    That trip was very memorable for all of us, and we found Chiang Khong to be a very tranquil and serene place (Measuring high on the “I could live here happily” scale). I can fully understand why you would move there.
    My wife and daughters returned again a few years later to spend some time with the lady and her son (Simon), who had built a guesthouse on the North end of Chiang Khong (I remember they had little A-frame huts).
    I had an inflatable kayak with me, and spent an enjoyable day floating down the Mother Khong from an entry in towards Chiang Saen, trying not to transgress borders in the aimless drift. The boat was also used at LPB, LNT, and Xiengkok, where it was far easier going downstream than trying to battle my way back up again... Who would’ve thought?!? :)
     
  13. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator
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    #13 DavidFL, Aug 11, 2019
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2019


    Continued....Chiang Khong attractions out of town - Kaeng Pha Dai

    The other option to get to Kaeng Pha Dai, rather than a bike ride is to boat there from Ban Champong.
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    The best day and place to do this is on a Wednesday, after the huge Mekong Talad Nut market at Ban Champong.
    At Ban Champong by the boat pier where hundreds of people come from Laos, you can hire a boat to go down to Kaeng Pha Dai & back.
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    For 1,500 baht the boat is yours for as long as you want. From the Ban Champong Pier it is roughly10 kms downstream to to Kaeng Pha Dai.
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    Sail down to Kaeng Pha Dai, hang out, take photos, then have lunch go back to Ban Champong, where you've parked your bike.

    A smoky day on the Khong in the hot dry season
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    Kaeng Pha Dai has a fabulous wonky wooden restaurant over hanging the banks of the Mekong.
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    The food in this restaurant is fantastic, with the fried shrimps top of the list. The Tom Yam "Mekong Pla" is also awesome.

    The fresh fried shrimps, super crispy & absolutely delicious.
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    Should you go to he restaurant & there is no one way around, the park ranger can phone his wife the cook & restaurateur. This family has operated the restaurant for decades & have a very good reputation for their fresh delicious food. Highly recommended.

    Some Mekong views at Kaeng Pha Dai.
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    Lao people heading home from the Ban Champong market, with a washing machine onboard.
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    More to come the amazing Ban Champong Wednesday market..
     
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  14. Eoin Christie

    Eoin Christie Ol'Timer

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    Excellent, David!
     
  15. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator
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    #15 DavidFL, Aug 16, 2019 at 1:42 PM
    Last edited: Aug 16, 2019 at 1:53 PM
    The weekly "Talad Nut" market by the Mekong at Ban Chambong is arguably the best market you can see.
    Held every Wednesday on the banks of the Mekong, hundreds of people come from Laos by boat from far away. I have even met Lao people from Tha Fa, 70 kms down the Houei Xai - Luang Namtha road. They come from that far! It is an incredible sight & you can see a lot of incredible people.
    Lao people also come to sell a few natural products. They get just a few baht, but it is an event for them & it also makes you realize how poor they are and how little they have just across the river. Thailand is so so rich in comparison & yet so close.

    Some images from the market.

    A selection of boats moored, ready to carry people & produce back o Laos.
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    Any old vehicle will do for carrying goods up & down to the river market.
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    Loaded ready to go home, back to Laos
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    The market is basically divided into two sections.
    One section for Thai vendors & a Lao section where the Lao vendors set up mats & sell on the ground.
    This for me is the most interesting part, the people & the products they come to sell & get just a few baht.
    River seaweed, bamboo shoots, mushrooms & other forest products. Life is tough in Laos!
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    The location of the market is here: Google Maps
    Every Wednesday morning. Starting from 6am. I usually aim to be there 6.45-7.00Am.
    The market starts to wind down by 9AM, so the earlier you go the better.

    more market pics to come.
     

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