I was intending to travel from Chiang Rai to Chiang Khong by bus, and it was a relatively painless experience. I caught a local bus which took about two and a half hours and cost 80 baht. Local buses can get quite crowded although this one was not so I had the luxury of a bit of leg room. I really rather enjoy bumping along in a bus where I am the only foreigner and, before the light went, the scenery was very pretty.
The buses run regularly from early morning until 1700 hours. Note that they depart from the old Bus Station #1 in the centre of Chiang Rai rather then the new station on the highway.
If you are going to Lao there is only one option and that is to get a boat from the pier at the extreme North end of town where, understandably, the Immigration office is. Do NOT forget to get your passport stamped with an exit visa as you can run into all sorts of problems later on. It is a quick and simple process.
The boats run from 0800 - 1800 daily and cost 50 baht.
It is quite a pleasnt wat to leave Thailand and enter Laos by taking a small boat across the river. The trip takes less than two minutes and immigration is open from 8 am to 6 pm, so don't be late as you may have to spend the night in Chiang Khong. The cost is 40 baht for the boat to Huay Xai.
(last date took the boat - Dec 14, 2004)
Chiang Khong to Houayzai, Laos
boat fare - 5 ThB
departure time - 9:35 a.m.
arrival time - 9:40 a.m.
Steeping off point to Laos, Chiang khong immigration with 2 counters. Go early to avoid crowds during peak season. Just down the turn before reaching shore, on the left side.