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Kunming to Chiang Mai

Boat from Chinese border, through Laos to Chiang Mai - Any Help/Information appreciated!
11 years ago, June 1st 2008 No: 1 Msg: #36997  
I need to get into chiang mai, thailand from kunming, china and the flights are just too expensive. I have heard that I get a bus down to the border with laos and take a slow boat along the river into Thailand, but the hostel is low on info - ie the town I have to get a bus to, Laos transit visas, where I get the boat from and how much it should cost!
Has anyone done this trip before? Or looked into it? Any snipets of information would be great!
Thanks, Allie. Reply to this

11 years ago, June 1st 2008 No: 2 Msg: #37038  
B Posts: 212
I don't know your whole route as I didn't go through China, but in Laos you'll take the boat from Luang Prabang - it's over two days so you'll stop one night in a town called Pak Beng and then continue up the Mekong river to the Laos border town (sorry, can't remember the name of it! - but doesn't matter, that's where the boat goes to). then you get a boat across to Thailand (takes about a minute!), and you're in Chiang Kong, where you can get a bus to Chiang Mai. (4 or 5 hours journey I think). Not sure about Laos transit visas but when we went across to Laos from Thailand, we got one on arrival, so probably from China into Laos is the same - just make sure you have 2 passport photos with you. Reply to this

11 years ago, June 2nd 2008 No: 3 Msg: #37063  
Hi Debbie, thanks for your reply. I think it's a possibility but i'm worried about the visa situation.

Does anyone know if I get a visa for Laos in order to travel through it at this time, will I be able to get another tourist visa in about 2 months when I will be going back there to actually see the country?

I have heard also that there is a new highway been built through Laos into Thailand, but can't find any info on it - the onward travel info in China really bites!

Also found info on getting a boat from Jinghong but seems to be people just turning up and negotiating their way onto a cargo boat which seems a bit dodge for a girl on my tod! Reply to this

11 years ago, June 2nd 2008 No: 4 Msg: #37086  
B Posts: 212
I don't know for certain about the visa situation but normally (ie with Thai visas for eg) you can leave the country on one day and return again the next and get stamped in for another visa, I imagine it's probably the same with Laos - they'll stamp you in for 30 days, then when you arrive again, you'll get another 30 days. it's probably worth ringing the company you booked your rtw with, if that's possible, they usually have up to date visa info, (or get someone at home to ring for you, if that's easier) and can put your mind at rest. I can't imagine it would be a problem in Laos to enter twice, your original visa that you'll get when you pass through will have expired by the time you return there so there won't be a problem with overlap - they want the tourism so i can't imagine they have rules that prevent you from returning! And if things change and you end up wanting to go back into Laos sooner, while your original visa is still active, you can probably extend it - I got my visa for Vietnam extended with no problem, when my plans changed, and I think Vietnam would be trickier. You'll find SE Asia much easier to travel in than China - people speak more English and in general things like that are no problem - you've really got no reason to worry!
Can't help with the cargo boat situation, I'm afraid.
Reply to this

11 years ago, June 2nd 2008 No: 5 Msg: #37090  
Thanks again Debbie, i'm going to get someone to phone up back home, good idea! I'm hoping it will be a lot easier to travel there coz the language barrier here has been a big problem, but if the visa thing is ok then presume I can just get into Laos and find buses and/or boats there, i'm not on a strict time schedule after I get out of china (just need to get out before the end of my visa!)

Any more info from anyone on the bus/boat situation - to/froms and prices so I'm not ripped off! Reply to this

11 years ago, June 3rd 2008 No: 6 Msg: #37166  
N Posts: 6

I checked some information for you. You can get a bus to LAOS. The whole period from 17:00 9(first day) to 23:00 (second day), lasts about 30 hours and the ticket costs 28 euro. TEL:
Then you can take a boat along the river into Thailand which is called MEI GONG RIVER in Chinese. The cost is about 5 euro.

About the visa, you do not need to worry too much. It is very easy to apply and you can go into the county for several times. Remember to bring your passport, Health Certificate and photos.

The hostel there is very cheap which only cost you about 1 to 3 euro.
Reply to this

11 years ago, June 3rd 2008 No: 7 Msg: #37181  
Hi Jessie, THanks for the help. I went to the embassy in Kunming this morning and like you said they really don't have any issues with people coming in and out. I just couldn't take any risks coz if I couldn't get another visa later I would be screwing up my sisters trip as well as mine!

For anyone else that is interested inthis subject, here isthe other information that I have found out. You can get the boat straight into Thailand, with no need for a Laos visa, from Jinghong or another town about 4 hours away (will check on spelling of the name) - Guanlei. Ask at Mei Mei's or Forest Cafe, both on the north side of the big roundabout in Jinghong, for more info.
Because of the ease of getting a visa (Laos don't do transit visas any more only tourist ones) at the MoHan (china)/Boten(Laos) border if you have time it seems there are many bus routes through Laos into thailand - and I'll let you know about the 'new' highway if I ever find it! 😉
Reply to this

10 years ago, November 30th 2008 No: 8 Msg: #56078  
N Posts: 8
IWe'll be chiang mai in MArch next year. We plan to go to kunming gfrom there. how do we go about in order to get into kunming (in the shortest period) ? Flights are too expensive of course. Please let us know the route to take. Reply to this

10 years ago, December 1st 2008 No: 9 Msg: #56223  
Hi Monnny, I'm not entirely sure if it will work the same in reverse but it should do!

You have 2 options the first is the boat which i was unfortunately unable to get - you will have to get a bus to Chiang Khong and then organise to get on the boat from there which will take you up the Mekong, along the Myanmar/Laos border and into Jinghong (about 2/3 days) and from there you will be able to get a bus to Kunming (approx 10 hrs). You will hopefully be able to sort the boat through an agency or guesthouse in Chiang khong or contact MeiMei's cafe in Jinghong (which is how I heard about it)

Option 2 is to bus it from Chiang Mai to Chiang Khong (Once in C.K. it's a tuktuk or walk 1.5km to the border port) a boat across the Mekong to Houyxai in Laos (where you will have to buy a visa) then to the bus station which is slightly out of town for a bus to Luang Nam Tha (when I was last there there was only one bus at about 12 midday) then get a 'bus' to Boten which is the closest border with China and across in China you will have to get 2 minibuses to Jinghong (I can't exactly remember the names of the places where we changed but I think that part of the route should be in your guide book) Then a bus from Jinghong to Kunming. This route will also take a couple of days and you will end up having to stay 1 or 2 nights in either Chiang Khong/Houyxai, Nam Tha or Jinghong.

I hope that all makes some sense and will help you a little bit. 😉 Reply to this

10 years ago, December 3rd 2008 No: 10 Msg: #56395  
N Posts: 8
While in Kunming, I plan to go to Shagrila. I have about 14 days to go about from chiang mai to shagrila. So can you please tell me how to go about it - the places to go and back to chiang mai for the flight? Thank you. Reply to this

10 years ago, December 4th 2008 No: 11 Msg: #56449  
N Posts: 8
Yes, we have 14 days to plan for the holiday in Yunnan from Chiang Mai. I think it's too short a period to go to Kunming and from there to Shangrila. Instead we plan to go westwards in Yunnan from Jinhong to Baoshan (Tengchong area) and then up norh to Zhongdian (Shangrila) if possible. So is there anyone of you who has the experience and who can let us know the best way to go about? Thankl you, Sir. Reply to this

10 years ago, January 7th 2009 No: 12 Msg: #59187  
Monnny, well, 14 days is probably about the min you will need to get around everywhere you want to go, but i suppose it depends on how much time you want to spend in each place. I would strongly suggest skipping Zhongdian and going to Lijiang. Lijiang is touristy, but so is Shangri-la and shangri la is further north, but the difference is once outside of Lijiang, there are tons more things to do. Another suggestion is go straight up to Deqin, near the Tibet border. From their take a 20 minute ride up to Fei Lai Ci, which is miraculously beautiful and the town is small. you can take overnight busses, which are hit and miss, or you can go to Dali, spend a night, then to Lijiang, spend a night, then Shangr-la, then Deqin, and then work your way back. Or if you want a really hardcore hiking vacation, let me know, I can set you up on a fantastic hike in northern Yunnan at a Catholic Tibetan village. Fantastic journey. Reply to this

10 years ago, June 18th 2009 No: 13 Msg: #76808  
N Posts: 2
xiejiesheng, I am interested in your trek in northern Yunnan "at a catholic Tibetan village", can you supply further details. Reply to this

10 years ago, June 18th 2009 No: 14 Msg: #76842  
bemeup, ok, send a message to xiejiesheng at gmail Reply to this

10 years ago, August 11th 2009 No: 15 Msg: #82753  
N Posts: 8
Yes, 4 of us plan to go to Tianjin, China, for 15 days starting from 10/9/2009. We'll be in Tianjin in the morning and we plan to go straight to Yantai and make our way southwards, then westwards, then back to tianjin. We would appreciate very much if anyone can let us know if we can get accommodation easily, along the way there, I mean budget guest houses or hotels. Thank you. Reply to this

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