Slowboat to Luang Prabang
The main reason for coming to Huay Xai is to take the slowboat to Luang Prabang along the Mekong River. The trip takes two days with an overnight stop at the small village of Pak Beng along the way. The trip is very popular with western tourists but also caters for local people who ride between various villages that the boat calls at.
The boat I took left an hour late at about 12pm but check the departure time when you book your ticket. The first day's trip passes by a few bamboo stilt villages but there was very little life on the river itself. The boat arrived in Pak Beng at 5.30pm and you can easier find accommodation for the night. Pak Beng is a small, simple, charming place with a few shops and restaurants. The boat leaves at around 9.45am on the second day but again check the departure time when you arrive in Pak Beng. The second day is better than the first as you see more life on the river, plus we saw some working elephants drag tree trunks down a hill to a waiting boat. The boat also stopped at some more villages to drop off goods and food plus people and even live chickens in cages which were on the roof of the boat. At one stop several 50kg bags of rice were delivered. The boat arrived in Luang Prabang at around 5.45pm just as the sun was setting over the river which made for a magical arrival.
The slowboat ferry dock in Huay Xia is located about a kilometre north of the immigration office/river crossing from Thailand dock. It's best to take some snacks for the trip but you can stock up at Pak Beng for the second day if you so wish. The boats have wooden seats with no cushions so it's best to buy a cushion for added comfort bearing in mind that you'll be sitting down for the best part of 2 days. You can buy them at a shop along the turn-off road that goes down to where the slowboats are docked. I bought my ticket from the slowboat ferry office which is located at the dock and this cost me 950 baht - 220,000 kip/US$30.
The ruins of a small French fort known as Fort Carnot can be found if you continue along the main road following the flow of the river. It was built around 1900 and has two large watchtowers, an amenities block including a kitchen and prison cell, two large garrison buildings, and tunnels leading to external guardhouses. It has been off limits to visitors due to use by the Lao Army, but is now in a state of disrepair so there's not a great deal to see.
DEPARTURE and ARRIVAL POINT
These photographs were taken back in 1992 when foreigners could not enter or leave using the Chiang Khong/Haouyxai river crossing but when we visited Laos in 2011 this was now possible to do. The photos were taken with my zoom lens while on the river on the Thai side. Nothing had changed since the earlier photograph was taken, except it was a lot busier. As a foreigner you would check out with the Lao Immigration Authorities then pay a dollar to the boatman to cross the river. I am not so sure how busy the boat service is now as a new friendship bridge opened up in December 2013 but it is around 10 kms from Haouyxai and Chiang Khong.
MASSAGE or HERBAL SAUNA
The Lao Red Cross offers a relaxing massage or a herbal sauna at a very reasonable price ($4,$3) and this money goes to help the children in the villages. The Red Cross are located in most Lao towns and as far as i know they all provide this service. Their building is located about a kilometre west of the passenger boat landing, just follow the main street and you will find it on your left just after a gulley. We found the poorly paid staff extremely friendly and we spent an hour chatting to them before we left. The massage rooms are upstairs on the left while the sauna is on the right. Downstairs the fire is operated by an old man who is also in charge of the herbs that are used. There are separate small saunas for the ladies and one for the guys and you are encouraged to take a shower before entering the sauna. It can be quite hot so i managed 20 minutes before cooling of in the shower room and managed to repeat the ordeal twice. I encourage you to visit this place as your money benefits a good cause.
Wat Chome Khaou Manirat
A series of steps, flanked by nagas (snakes), opposite the road that leads up to the main road from the immigration office, takes you up to this charming small temple. A kind monk met me and showed me around and said that the temple dates back around 40 years.
- Historical Travel
- Religious Travel
WATCH THE VEHICLE FERRY
It is nice to wander westwards to where the vehicle ferry crosses the river. You can sit at a restaurant and have a snack while watching the trucks being loaded on the barges for the short crossing. We were amazed how they manage to cram 8 trucks on to the barges. Many trucks return empty to Thailand but all entering Laos are completely full. It is quite a skilful job for the truck driver to get it up the ramp on to the barge. Also this is where the passenger boats leave to go up and down the river.
Lazy p.m. waiting for the slow ferry to Thailand
Tired and hungry waiting for the next ferry Trip to Chiang Khong. This restaurant just in front of the Mekong River served a very good and tasteful French Fries. And the traditional Lao beer saved our thirsty throat after a long walk in the Town. There was nothing special on this day. Joining the Gibbon experience was too late for our limited itinerary but will never miss it next time when we come back to Laos grounds!
While waiting here at the restaurant we have had a nice view overlooking the other side of the country.
- Sailing and Boating
- Budget Travel
WAT JOM KHAO MANILAT
This Wat overlooks Thanon Saykhong which is the street that runs parallel to the river, where many of the guest houses and restaurants can be found. The steps lead up from the street and it is quite a colourful temple at the top where you get a real good view. Admire the beautiful paintings and spend some time chatting to the friendly monks.
Long Climb to the Top!
Wat Jom Khao Manilat - I didn't keep track but there are a LOT of steps from the street to the wat. Very serene location with nice views across the river to Thailand. A picturesque place. Unfortunately, once there I realized my camera batteries were dead and the spares in my bag at the guest house!
Check your batteries (and heart condition - LOL) before tackling the stairs!!!!
- Budget Travel
- Road Trip
Santhi Pap Secondary School
(last date visited: Dec. 14, 2004)
I visited this school to see the English class.
I met Vilath, the English teacher of this school.
- Budget Travel