Juanito’s Travels 50 yr backpacker – Chiang Rai to the border of Laos, tips for going on the very slow (and rather crappy) boat from Huay Xai to Pakbeng pt29

juanitos travels mekong slow boat Laos

17 April.


The slowboat down the Mekong starting at Huay Xi and then stopping off overnight at Pakbeng (which I also call Pak Beng, which is actually closer to the name) and then onto Luang Prabang.

It sounded like a romantic thing to do. See some tigers, jungle animals – monkeys, elephants and the like. Chilling on the pristine river for a couple of days like Katherine Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart on the African Queen.

Well. That wasn’t how it was, at least for us.

But let’s start from the beginning. If you really want to go on the slowboat you can do it, fairly easily and reasonably cheaply. I thought it may be difficult but it’s actually literally a piece of piss to organise. You can buy tickets in Chiang Rai (Thailand) at every travel agency, or just straight from your hotel. Then you can get a bus or taxi from Chiang Rai through to Huay Xai (Laos) where you get on the boat that takes you down river to Luang Prabang with a night stopover in Pakbeng (also Laos). Unless you’re crazy enough to go the other way, up river, then you’d get a ticket from Luang Prabang to Huay Xai with a night stopover in Pakbeng. I mean I imagine that way is just as easy to organise but it’s just probably even slower than the already slowboat given it’s fighting against the natural current.

We did it a little differently, we went from Huay Xai and then booked three nights in Pakbeng. The difference being we had to buy two tickets, one from Huay Xai to Pakbeng, which we booked through our hotel in Chiang Rai, Northern Thailand, along with a taxi ride we shared with Francisco and Nathan. Hi Nathan and Francisco if you’re reading this!! I know you’re not reading this so hopefully the ‘hi’ vibes make it to you some other way. I might just send you both a message on Instagram later. Maybe we can hang out in Phoenix one day. Or do you live in Tucson? Anyway, we’ll work that out on Instagram some time.

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So my wife and I started our slow boat trip in Chiang Rai. We got picked up around 4-5 am, dunno exactly but it was still dark and wasn’t light until around about an hour into our trip, which was about halfway to the Laos border or maybe later. Huay Xai is just over the border between Thailand and Laos. So after chatting with Francisco and Nathan for around two hours – who both loved Songkran by the way (unlike my wife which you may have read about in the previous post), like they couldn’t get enough of it, they kept going for days with the water fights and were happy to see in Chiang Rai the festivities were still going – we arrived at the border.

Jan and I had organised our border e-visas when we were back in Australia so when we got there we got across the border pretty quick after paying a few baht to the border official as some sort of ‘administration fee’ in cash that most likely went straight into the guy’s pocket. Well, actually, come to think of it, I think we first met up with other tourists and we all piled into a big bus and drove from the border (on the Thailand side) to the border crossing immigration area on the Laotian side. No! Hang on. We went through the Thai immigration bit and the guy said to Jan, ‘hey this is the last day of your visa’ and smiled. Then we jumped in the bus and drove across to the Laos immigration bit. And then we got out our e-visas like pros and we like looking at all the non e-visa people filling out their forms and I was thinking ‘losers’ as I’m very childish.

Well, we didn’t have to look at them ‘losers’ too long we had our e-visas so we practically just walked through, paid the dude the kinda of bribe ‘tip’ thing and we were in Laos not having to look at all the non e-visa dudes – including Nathan and Francisco, who we liked, and certainly didn’t consider ‘loser’ if they are reading this, and still like we hope we can hang out sometime, maybe you guys come come to Guadalajara when we’re there or visit us here in Australia? Jan will be back at the end of next week (depending of course on when you read this, she could be already back (in fact she is). Or we could be in Guadalajara again as we’re going to go for Christmas/ New Year one year. We’ll message on Insta and organise). Anyway we kicked back on the Laotian side as we waited for all the poele filling out their forms and waiting in lines and such then finally got back on this truck thing to continue our journey.

slow boat 1 thailand: laos

So once Nathan and Francisco and the others we don’t know the names of – well Jan might, but I doubt it as we didn’t ask anyone’s names, so Jan won’t know either – got through they gave us all these pin on badge things that said (or maybe stated is more correct): Daily transfer to Laos, Slow Boat to Luang Prabang. We then stopped off at a little tour office where we could got to the toilet, get some Laos money (the good old Kip, fine currency!), SIM cards for our phone, and some supplies for the trip. This was mostly organised by the tech and business savvy kids of the office, who I assume were the owner’s children. We were to find that Laotians love having many children, and they are very often put to work! Though when not working they just chill do colouring in, like the one in the photo below. In all seriousness they were a great help and super friendly. And it was all run from this nondescript little shop down the road a bit from the border crossing.


They gave us all a roll with egg and salad or something, and a drink to take with us. But since we were in mid-April and the temperatures were around 35 degrees everyday, we also got a few more bottles of water. Oh, and the hotel gave us these huge doggy bag breakfasts with heaps of other food. And I bought a beer.

We asked the guy at the tour place to book us the Pakbeng to Luang Prabang leg for us so we didn’t have to work out how to do that in Pakbeng. Apparently it was easy to buy the ticket in Pakbeng, but he still took our money, after being up front and telling us it’d be cheaper to buy it in Pakbeng he literally said, ‘if you pay me it will be more expensive, you can buy the tickets in Pakbeng, but I can take your money if you like’, but we didn’t want the hassle (I also found it wasn’t neccessarily that easy to buy a ticket in Pakbeng, but it is possible at the tourist point just up the hill from the ferry departures and arrivals place if you want to do it). He didn’t give us a ticket or anything, he just got our WhatsApp contact details and told us to send him a message and a photo of us when we were ready to get on the ferry in Pakbeng for the Luang Prabang leg so he could tell the people on the boat we’d already paid.



We organized all that stuff and then got back into the truck and chatted to Nathan and Francisco on the way to the slow boat, which was only maybe another 20-30 minutes away. We stopped around 30 minutes at the shop while everyone got SIM cards and supplies.

Once we got there we found the river was low, being the dry – and I can’t emphasise enough, HOT – season. So, we had to walk down a big hill with all our luggage to reach the boat and the river, which was just below the boats, all the time sweating like sprinklers. Then we got on the boat, found some seats in the chaos and headed off down the Mekong for Pakbeng. Even though we had numbers they didn’t seem to correspond to anything so we just grabbed some free spaces. This was all mostly organised by the tag system. Tourists tagged in a certain way got on our boat, while others I think, but can’t honestly remember, we shuffled off to other boats. I think a few people had fancy boat tickets for example so they were sent off to the fancy private boat while we got on the public ferry.

There was a mixture of locals and tourists. At least half to three quarters were tourists though. As it was a public boat, anyone with a ticket could hop on. I suspect tourists paid a lot more than the locals. I kind of hope we did given the average annual income for Laotians is only $356 Australian dollars. I think we paid around $25-30 Aussie dollars for the trip, maybe less. I think if you know where to go you can get a trip for much less.

By the way, before I go on, apologies to locals for which the slowboat is an essential way of travelling between towns. Forgive my whining touristy ways! I’m sure it’s not too surprising how soft westerners can be though. I hope for your sakes you get an improved service one day as you are more important than tourists, though the money they bring in is probably welcomed.

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The slow boat seats were crappy, uncomfortable and not level. I mean one side was up a bit and the other side was sagging down towards the ground. My butt often straddled the two areas and one cheek often went to sleep and I had to slap it from time to time so it didn’t lose feeling forever. On top of that there was some sort of hard metal thing that was in the middle of the little that remained of the cushion – very little of that soft fluffy stuff you expect to find in a cushion was to be found. There was some shade overhead, enough. later in the day, to keep the scorching middle of the day sun, albeit mostly stuck behind a firey haze of smoke, off our heads. The boat had open sides so what little stiflingly hot breeze was around could waft through. Kind of the way air-fryers work I imagine. Sweat poured from every crevice despite it still being early morning upon departure.


But a short break from our first day in Laos, which was now five (now 8) months ago. I’m writing this now in front of a TV where I’m watching a show about YouTube (and in fact since I’ve taken so long to finish, I’m now doing this in front of my work computer as I wait for some work to do). Yes I’m watching actual TV on a TV, I actually got out on the roof and hooked up the TV to a rooftop aerial, mainly because I can’t decide what to watch on any streaming services. Which is partly because there seems very little worth watching on the paid streaming services. So I’m watching actual TV again. It’s kinda retro, like the slowboat, but it does have the advantage of not having to think about what to watch, there’s just always stuff playing and SBS TV Australia has a world movie channel, plus an endless range of Scandinavian crime dramas (SBS also have a streaming service by the way, mainly for Australians). It makes me want to go back to reading books. Which I do a little. I’m reading one about Ho Chi Minh at the moment (well now, as I’m nearing finishing this post, I’ve also finished the book!). I’ll get to how I got into Ho later on (he’s cool, pragmatic, and deserves to be on every Vietnamese banknote, is my summary). Unlike YouTube (which was the show I started to tell you about on SBS) I’m not trying to gently lead you down some path of radicalization (although Ho was certainly a revolutionary, just against a bunch of pricks from France and later the USA). I was just interested in Ho after visiting Vietnam and the Vietnam part of these travels didn’t happen until after Laos, which I will get to one day. Anyway, there’s no algorithms in books that control their content (unlike YouTube). As far as I know that is. I asked ChatGPT to confirm this and it said: books themselves do not have algorithms that control their content. Which is good enough for me.

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Oh, where was I? The slowboat, down the Mekong. Yeah it really, really sucks as a boat. You do, however, get to see a bit of life along the Mekong. Unfortunately one of the first things you notice is that Laotian people dump loads and loads of rubbish in the river. Along the way I watched a kid eating a few seats ahead of us. He’d eat something and then chuck the plastic packaging straight into the river, with his mother sitting right next to him, totally unconcerned by the littering of the Mighty Mekong. I wanted to throw the kid and the mother in. After throwing several empty chip packets, he had a bowl of noodles, I watched him for a few minutes, watching the plastic bowl, watching him, and pretty much as soon as he was done he chucked the bowl over the side and it drifted along in the boat’s wake – I think that’s a boating term, wake.

And I got even hotter. And we still had almost 6 hours to go to get to Pakbeng. Which was only roughly the halfway mark to Luang Prabang (which we’d take in a few days time).


Because it was April, the scenery was dry and dusty. Because everyone was dry it made everything easier to burn, and apparently Laotians love a good burning off in April (and maybe May) and the place was covered in smoke with the culprit fires sporadically springing up along the steep hills that lined the banks. And what’s worse of all, there were no tigers! I kept looking and not one freakin tiger to be found! Not even a monkey!

There were plenty of water buffalo though. The ones below were from the second day of our river trip (if you have a keen eye and realise they’re not on the Mekong between Huay Xi and Pakbeng), which, unlike most of the tourists, we weren’t doing on consecutive days. We stayed 3 nights in Pakbeng so we could go visit the Mekong Elephant Park in Pakbeng, across the river from where the slowboats drop you off and pick you up.

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The waterbuffalo were really cool.

Anyway, eventually we made it to Pakbeng. Honestly the worst day of boating I’ve ever experienced in my life (again, whinging tourist, guilty as charged). It was so bad I haven’t had the energy to actually finish my post on the experience for a good 8 months now (at the time of writing). Once we got to Pakbeng we had to lug our luggage (well mainly me with the heavier stuff as my wife was just able to cope with one or 2 of the smaller bags) up the narrow steps that led up the very steep banks of the river. My shoulders threatened to pop out of my sockets on several occasions as we inched our way up from the water’s edge.

When I got up my wife said, ‘oh I sent some guys down to help you’. Some guys had asked me to help with the luggage but I assumed they were going to hassle us to go to their hotels so I said no. I now dearly wished we’d paid someone just to take the stuff up! I mean we probably only needed to give them a dollar! Why?!! Oh well, regrets, I’ve had a few. But surprisingly few on such a long trip (which still had Vietnam, Cambodia, Austria, Italy, Greece, Turkey and Mexico to go at that stage!).

On arrival accommodation providers swamp you and try to get you to go hither and thither. There’s not much to Pakbeng though so most of the accommodation is just on the main street, which is just a couple of hundred metres of dirt road with a slight bend in it.


We were staying at the hotel associated with Mekong Elephant Park (just across the river from the park) but they hadn’t arrived. An Indian guy who ran the only Indian restaurant in town – which was pretty decent, and which we frequented for every meal, apart from the hotel breakfast and the first night where we went to a Loatian place where I went for buffalo laab (a Laotian dish), kind of minced buffalo Loatian style which was a bit chewy but nice (sorry buffalo!). Some of the restaurants had signs saying ‘my wife cooks very well’, and indeed the buffalo laab was made by someone’s wife. Anyway the Indian guy called the hotel for us and they came picked us up.

This is the laab, with a delicous Beerlao (not too cold, you may have to add ice!):


And so, we had arrived in Pakbeng, after over 7 gruelling, boring, uncomfortable, hot and smokey hours. And since it makes me hot just thinking about the slowboat, I will finally, after 8 months finish this post with a few tips!

Tip 1 – bring plenty of water for your trip. Food and drinks are surprisingly expensive on the slowboat. Well, by local standards.

Tip 2 – don’t go on the slowboat if you can afford it. It is not at all romantic! Splurge on the nicer private boast where they have meals and stuff!!

Tip 3 – if you’re going on any boat down the Mekong between Huay Xi and Luang Prabang (with that stop in Pakbeng), slow or otherwise, don’t go in April. The smoke is horrendous, the heat is horrendous.

Tip 4 – if you’re something of an influencer, or you organise tours down the Mekong, maybe get the locals to stop dumping all their shitty rubbish in the Mekong! You’re going to make it so no tourist wants to visit the place if there’s crap everywhere.

Tip 5 – bring cash to Pakbeng! We were lucky to have Thai baht on us we could use at the Indian restaurant. There were only 2 ATMs in town when we were there and neither of them had cash, so we had to survive on what money we had with us for the 2 days we had in Pakbeng.

I also have one reflection. Despite the hassles of getting there, Pakbeng is actually worth a few night’s stay, if only to visit the Mekong Elephant Park! Man, that is amazing! And if you’re going to suffer hours and hours on an uncomfortable boat down a littered river, in the heat and smoke, you might as well spend at least two nights halfway! Anyway, next post I will do the Elephant Park, and maybe some more Pakbeng. I think if it wasn’t for that Elephant park my wife may still have been upset with me for taking her down that damned river on that damned boat!

And I’m done with Slowboats – except I will have to mention the next leg from Pakbeng to Luang Prabang in a post.

Juanito’s Travels 50 yr backpacker – Chiang Rai, White Temple, Wat Rong Khun and a little more Songkran pt28

white temple Chiang Rai Wat Rong Khun

Thailand was back in April. It’s now about mid-June (actually now it’s mid-September as it seemed like I started this post but never finished – what’s finished anyway?!), and mid-morning, at least when I’m starting to write this post, and I’m looking over at the Mediterranean Sea from my hotel balcony on the Greek Island of Samos (well now sitting on the coach in Australia with SBS TV playing in the background). In the distance I can see Turkey. Not far off in the distance, even with a kayak you could probably get across in four hours maybe, depending on the wind and currents which at the moment look like they’d want to take you somewhere down towards Egypt. A few Greek patrol boats are heading out to what I presume is the maritime border with Turkey that must be somewhere between Samos and Turkey. Yesterday they went all out with fighter jets, large and small patrol boats, quite the spectacle. All to keep refugees from entering the EU on what from the movies looks to be mainly very unseaworthy vessels not even as robust as a kayak.

Tomorrow we’re going the other way, in a nice big ferry with visas and passports in hand for, what I hope, is a relatively straight forward crossing. Amazing what difference a few bits of paper make. Something I reflected on in an earlier post when they wanted to deport me from the UK in 1995 where I was only saved by a faxed copy of my Irish proof of citizenship. You can read more about that here.

But, being a stickler for strict chronological telling of a story, I return to April and our trip from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai and then over the border to Laos and down the mighty Mekong River which started with a bus trip from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai. For the purposes of maybe being helpful if you’ve picked up a Lonely Planet and are planning to do something similar, we booked the bus online using the VIP Green Bus departing from Tambon Wat Ket – I have no memory of where that is anymore, just book a taxi through Grab (SE Asia’s Uber) to take you there, that’s the beauty of SE Asia. I totally converted to using Grab for taxis in Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam (the last two we further on in our trip and I plan to write about them at some point in the next few months). In Cambodia (ok, I’m jumping both geographically and chronologically again) you could even use Grab for Tuk Tuks, which are fun but if you get prices directly from Tuk Tuk drivers, you’re bound to be fleeced or, in Thailand (where tuk tuks weren’t on Grab at this stage) you’ll probably be taken to some gem store, sex show or some shop you didn’t want to go to. See my earlier reflections on gem store scams that I, and many fall for. Even just a few weeks ago we spoke to a traveller on Koh Chang island and she told us she was on her way to a temple and a Thai tuk tuk driver told her the temple was closed and offered to take her and her son about Bangkok for a tour. This always ends up in something like a gem store. Luckily she didn’t buy anything and the guy in the shop was pissed off. When a tuk tuk driver tells you a temple is closed in any part of SE Asia, it is a lie. Except on one occasion when we were in Phnom Penn, Cambodia and one told us the royal palace was closed – which it actually was, but just for lunch and then only for an hour or so.

So, buy your bus ticket and get on the bus, using Grab, and tea etc bus from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai, it’ll all be pretty easy. They may or may not tell you you’ve arrived in Chiang Rai but usually there’s someone on board who either knows you’ve arrived, or there’s a general consensus that you’re there. Just don’t follow anyone randomly thinking they know you’re in Chiang Rai, wait until you get to the actual bus terminal which is by the night markets in Chiang Rai and ask the bus driver, ‘is this the final stop for Chiang Rai’. To double check use Google maps.

We were in Chiang Rai for 3 nights. It was mostly uneventful. Sonkgran festivities continued so venturing outside was still dangerously wet, so we decided to mostly hang out at our very fancy hotel by some river a little bit out of town.

hotel Chiang Rai Juanito’s travels

The first night we had dinner out at the food markets by the bus station where we were dropped off. I’m surprised I don’t have a photo of the meal, but we were a bit tired and on the grumpy side so for once perhaps we just ate and went off to bed. It was a very good bed, a four poster with a mosquito net, very big, very comfy. Probably the best hotel we stayed at in our whole trip in SE Asia. The meal was something so spicy I could barely finish it. I think it was a khao soi, which I’d tried in Chiang Mai, except there it was nerfed up to western tastes.

I also bought a grey shirt that said ‘Chiang Rai’ in Thai at the markets. They had some pretty decent deals there.

The hotel was a good hang out after our 10ish days in Thailand. It may have been 12 come to think of it as my wife could only get a 15 day visa on a Mexican passport so we had to be out on the 15th day but wanted to maximise our time in Thailand. The only crappy bit was the smoke. We hadn’t noticed it so much in Chiang Mai, but boy Chiang Rai was pretty badly affected. It was smoke from burning in farming and forest areas in Thailand, nearby Laos and I think even China. It was on the news, my friend Kurt – who features in my page on Guadalajara which is here – was in a flap to tell me how dangerous the air was. But hell, what could we do, we were there, in the smoke and we weren’t turning back.

white temple Chiang Rai Wat Rong Khun

We did venture out to this White Temple. There was meant to be some bus going out, but the guys at the bus station said a bus had gone off and they weren’t sure when it’d be back so we shared a taxi with a woman from Slovenia, or Slovakia, or perhaps Poland, but I think it started with an ‘s”. The White Temple was much more contemporary than what we’d seen previously in Bangkok and Ayutthaya. Actually talking of Ayutthya, it was there that we met the young French woman who was with her parents who suggested that we spend more time in Chiang Rai. Not sure I mentioned that yet. Anyway, I wasn’t that into it. The White Temple, that is –  but in general Chiang Rai wasn’t too exciting, not that we could tell that much as half the shops seemed to be closed for Songran – it seemed a bit pretentious and unnecessarily garish and not really in keeping with classic Buddhist architecture. That was the point I guess, I got that, but I still didn’t like it, but luckily it was pretty small and easy to see in an hour, a blessing in the heat. Look and interesting enough, just too artsy for me.

white temple Chiang Rai Wat Rong Khun

It was still so fucking hot, people’s phones were frying and giving out warnings, I saw one guy even chuck his in the fridge for a bit to cool it down before it exploded. We had a run-in whilst there with a rather dick-headish tourist who demanded my wife get out of a photo and then went on some racist rant about her English skills. These people who think they own photo ops, it pissed me off no end. I wasn’t nearby when the rant happened as I’d gone outside the gate to sit under a tree while my wife looked around more. When she told me about it I went on a rather un-Buddhist rant about him being a fucking idiot and told him to go fuck himself and gave him the finger. His wife and child were there, but he was a prick. I think he was Russian. My wife was a bit scared after that so we kind of ran away back into town and hid away at this Irish pub. But outside of Mexico I’m not that scared of standing up to people. Mexico, you have to be careful.

white temple Chiang Rai Wat Rong Khun golden Ganesh

And oh, there was also this gold bit at the White Temple that led over to a Ganesh statue, also garish and a bit pretentious in my opinion, but might be your thing, who knows, I probably don’t know you so can’t say.

o'lane irish pub Chiang Rai

The Irish pub turned out to be a hang out for old Irish blokes looking for much younger female Thai companions. Not like young, young, call the police type young – though later we may have seen some of that in Cambodia – but definitely women not within 3-4 decades of their older male companions. And before you go commenting on my wife and I’s age difference, she’s just 6 years younger than me. Although I am also Irish-Australian and she is also very hot, so I was glad I’d splurged on the fancy hotel away from the town where the Songkran wetness continued. Ok, getting distracted here, my wife is still in Mexico, and now, as I write now, I’m not in Greece, nor Cambodia, as I wrote up there in brackets I’m in Australia. Palm Beach, Queensland, Australia and she’s still in Mexico – but only 10 more nights until she returns, and well, yeah sure, I’m getting super horny. I guess like the old Irish guys who hang out at the pub. Not sure how ethical that is but it wasn’t like they were hiding away and it seemed more of a not so unpleasant business transaction between consenting parties. The guys seemed fairly respectful.

golden clock Chiang Rai

There was this pretty golden clock in town. We didn’t see much else there as most places were closed. There weren’t even that many weed shops there. Even though I felt like a bit of a smoke I had grown unaccustomed to smoking over the years so it made me feel a bit too sleepy really, so I didn’t bother with it. Plus we were going into Laos in a day or so where weed isn’t legal and I couldn’t be bothered paying some fine to a cop for the privilege of smoking a joint and falling asleep, so I obtained the last few days after smoking the last of the weed I’d bought at Lollipop in Bangkok when we were still in Chiang Mai. It was kinda good there as I’d step out of the wet drenched crowd for a few minutes and smoke my spliff and then all the water troubles didn’t seem so bad. I’ve also been smoking for the last 2 weeks I think. Only at night mind you, with a glass of wine, a beer, a tequila or a mezcal. Today is the first day, pretty much since I returned to Australia in late July, when I haven’t had any of these. It’s also the first day I got motivated to write a blog post, so there you go, those correlations are not necessarily causation there may be something to think about there.

We did end up going into Chiang Rai town one more time, just back to the Irish pub, but otherwise we just enjoyed the hotel grounds and took the opportunity to do laundry. Little attention is paid to doing laundry in travel writing. I’m sure Patrick Leigh Fermor mentioned it a few times. He did at least write about how smelly his and his travelling companions’ clothes were after going mountaineering in Three Letters from the Andes. They seemed like they hadn’t been able to wash clothes for a few weeks. So you always have to be mindful of having a laundry day however exciting your travel adventures are. See below, we were having great fun waiting for our clothes to wash. Thailand is a very clothes washing friendly place. Also weed-friendly, good place for a massage, great place for food and probably paid sex – again as long as it’s ethical and respectful I have no problem with that, but we were fine on our own in that respect.

laundry Chiang Rai hotel Chiang Rai

So on our last night we just ate dinner at the hotel, swam a little, and for me I got in the habit of wandering down the river and drinking a can of Chang in the smokey haze while obsessively trying to avoid mosquito bites. I had layers of insect repellent on and was constantly vigilant, but there weren’t many about, one of the good things about the dryness and heat. To be honest, the heat didn’t worry us that much. Sure you didn’t want to spend too many hours exposed, especially in the middle of the day, but as long as you had good aircon the nights were very pleasant.

hotel Chiang Rai hotel Chiang Rai hotel Chiang Rai Juanito’s travels

And that was pretty much it for Chiang Rai, more food and hanging about at the hotel, very overpriced food at the hotel, and hanging out at the super awesome hotel room in Chiang Rai. The next stop was the Mighty Mekong River and the showboat down that river, which, to get to, we’d have to cross over into Laos. For the sake of simplicity we got the hotel to book us a taxi to take us to the Laos border and at 4 or 5 am we were packed and ready to go. That’s it, more on the slow boat next blog which I may even start writing tomorrow night, if I can be bothered.

hotel Chiang Rai luggage