THE EASIEST WAY TO GET TO LAOS FROM THE NORTH OF THAILAND – CHIANG MAI TO HUAY XAI BORDER CROSSING

Hello again guys, we hope you’re ready for some more great travel tips!

At the moment we are spending some time in the beautiful city of Luang Prabang in Laos. Since Laos is one of the popular destinations for backpackers traveling through Asia, we thought we would share some tips on how to get here. One of the most popular backpacking routes is to cross the boarder in to Laos from the north of Thailand in Chiang Khong over to Huay Xai, and that is exactly what we did.

As mentioned, we were traveling to Laos from one of our favourite cities in Thailand, Chiang Mai. Chiang Mai is situated in the northern part of Thailand, about 6 hour away from the Lao border. The easiest way to get there, is to take one of the so called “Green Buses” over to Chiang Kong, the city right by the border. We booked our tickets online on a website called 12.go.Asia, which is one of the best websites to be familiar with when traveling through Asia. You can book everything from bus tickets to plane tickets online, and it works pretty much all over southeast Asia.

The “Green Bus” left from the busterminal 3 in Chiang Mai around 8.00 am and arrived in Chiang Kong around 2 pm, which means roughly 6 hours of traveling. The bus ride went smoothly, although it might be good to know that the road might be tough for people with motion sickness, so it might be good to bring some motion sickness pills just in case.

Since the bus arrives in Chiang Khong in the afternoon, it might be a good idea to spend one night in Chiang Khong and cross the border early in the morning the next day. The border opens at 6.00 am, and the mandatory shuttle bus across the friendship bridge starts at 7.3o am. If you’re taking a boat down the river, the slow boat sometimes leaves as late as 11.30 am so you should have plenty of time to cross. We stayed at Day Waterfront Hotel, and we couldn’t recommend them enough. They give you all the paperwork you need to fill out for the visa application, and they explain how everything works by the border, and they even order you a tuktuk for the next morning so you basically don’t need to worry about anything. The owners speak really good english as well, and they were so sweet and caring.

A good tip to make the crossing as smooth as possible is to fill out all your visa forms before arriving at the border to save some time. You also have to bring a passport photo for the visa application, but if you forgot to bring one, you can make a copy of your passport by the border for 1 USD. The cost of the visa depends on where you’re from, but usually it’s around 30-35 USD, but it’s a little more expensive for some. You can pay the visa fee in USD, Lao KIP and Thai Bhat.

Something we didn’t know before making the trip over to Laos, was that during 2018 most of the countries in Scandinavia and a couple of other countries get free 14 day visas. We were only going to stay for two weeks anyway, so we actually got in for free which was a nice surprise. Apparently the tourism in Laos has gone down a bit the past couple of years, so they changed the visa rules to get more people to consider adding Laos to their travel route.

If you’re going to the the slow boat down the river, be prepared to spend many hours on an overbooked and crowded boat. Apparently they try to jam as many people as possible on the boat to make as much money as possible, and sometimes people end up having to stand up without a seat for 6-7 hours. Oh, and the so called “seats” on the boat are old uncomfortable carseats, from what we heard. Luckily we heard about this while we were in Chiang Mai, so we actually booked a more “luxurious” version of the cruise with a company called Shompoo Cruises, but there is a separate blogpost coming up about the whole cruise experience, so I don’t want to spoil anything just yet.

I hope this answered some of you questions about the border crossing from northern Thailand to Laos. But if you have any more questions, just write a comment below or send us an email and we will be happy to help you out with more information!

Picture of the beautiful sunrise view from our hotel balcony in Chiang Khong!

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ZIP-LINING ADVENTURE THROUGH THE JUNGLE IN CHIANG MAI – FLIGHT OF THE GIBBON

Yesterday we had one of the best days of our Asia trip so far. We did something we had been looking forward to for months and months. We finally got to experience zip-lining through the jungle with Flight of the Gibbon. It truly is one of the most amazing things we’ve ever done, and we will remember this day for the rest of our lives. This is something everyone needs to do at least once in their life. But maybe not if you’re afraid of heights since it all takes place pretty high up amongst the treetops.

The amazing day started by us getting picked up by Flight of the Gibbon by our hotel at around noon. We the tour called “The sunset Gibbon”, which is why we got picket up so late. There is a “Sunrise Gibbon” package as well, and if you choose that one you will get picked upp at your hotel at around 6:30 a.m. After getting picked up, we traveled about 1.5 hours up the mountains and into the jungle.

Once we arrived they briefed us about all the security rules, about what to do and not to do in the jungle and so on. We were assigned 2 “sky rangers” who were our guides throughout the entire afternoon. Through the entire zip-line experience there was always one guide on each plattform. One sending us off, and the other one receiving us on the other side. They communicated with each other constantly through walkie talkies, to ensure that no accidents would occur. We were in tje jungle for about 3-4 hours and I have to say, we did not feel unsafe at all, at any point what so ever.

There were some rules we had to follow throughout the entire day. 1: You should not run or jump on or off the platforms. 2: You were not allowed to handle your security lines/ropes. Only the rangers were allowed to handle the ropes to ensure your safety. 3: When going down a zip-line, it was not allowed to touch the cable with the risk of getting stuck between the cable and the pulley. 4: When approaching the next platform and you heard them yell (Legs up), you had to lift your legs up as high as you could. Everything felt incredibly safe and you always felt well taken care of.

The entire course took a little more than 2 hours to get through and it was 2 hours with a constant adrenaline rush. You can not describe the feelings that run through your body when you swing freely among the tree tops in a beautiful jungle in Thailand, how can you? There were different types of zip-lines during the course. There were ones where you went by yourself, there were places where you went 2 people together, one where you got hooked up on back and without anything to hold on to, you where supposed to just jump off of the platform, sort of like a bungeejump (incredibly scary but everyone’s favorite in our group). There were also places where you were hoisted down to a platform underneath.

After 2 hours in the jungle we had one of the best dinners we have had so far in Thailand. We sat down a large long table, and they put out all of these different delicious dishes. There was chicken curry, brown rice, vegetables, mushrooms, fried chicken, fruit and more. While we ate there were two people playing traditional music in the background, and it was just the most amazing dinner experience. We became such good friends in our group that we met up later in the evening for food and drinks.

Over all, I can only describe the experience as one of the most amazing things I’ve done in my life. I can not recommend Flight Of The Gibbon enough. If you are ever in Chiang Mai, this is a must!

 

Here is our blog from the day. We only make swedish videos at the moment, but we don’t talk much in this particular video so you should still watch it just to get an idea of the whole experience. Hope you enjoy it!

 

 

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HOW TO GET FROM AYUTTHAYA TO CHIANG MAI – TRANSPORTATION THAILAND – BACKPACKING

We have now finally arrived in Chiang May, a destination we both have been looking forward to for so long. It took us a while to get here, nut it’s so fun to finally be here!

Our travel day went very smoothly this time, and it took us about 12 hours to get here. We booked a train ticket through the website 12.Go.Asia, a website used for booking online transportation tickets. We have used it a lot during our travels here and it has worked great every time.

The train journey from Ayutthaya to Chiang Mai took about 12 hours as I just said. However, we traveled with a so-called sleeper train, which meant that the train travels during the night and that we had our own beds on the train which was a lovely and comfortable change from all the uncomfortable bus seats. We really love to travel during the night. First of all, you do not waste an entire day traveling that you could have spent exploring. Secondly, you can sleep the whole way, making the trip feel much shorter. Thirdly, it’s not as hot and you don’t have to carry your bags around between pickup points in the heat. However, as always, they crank up the air condition on all buses, trains and flights here in Asia and it was really cold. Therefore, always bring a sweater and a pair of long pants to wear on such occasions.

Another tip for those of you who will be traveling in Asia. If you have connecting transportation and multiple layovers, make sure you have a couple of hours between each. Delays are extremely common in Asia and if you miss you connecting bus/train/van you will probably have to wait a while for the next ride. Sometimes you’ll even have to buy a new ticket. Better safe than sorry!

Our last sunset in Ayutthaya

TEMPLES OF AYUTTHAYA – ANCIENT CAPITOL OF THAILAND

Hello my loves!

We had a wonderful second day here in the beautiful city Ayutthaya. I still can’t believe how I’d never heard of this place. We explored another temple today, the biggest and most “famous”, Wat Chaiwatthanaram. After that we also went and saw the sleeping buddha. A great tip if you ever plan on visiting, rent a bicycle for almoas no money at all, and use it to move around between temples and other historic sites. I have to be honest with you guys, this is one of the most beautiful places we have ever been to. If you’re ever in Thailand, you need to visit this place.

Enjoy this cinematic video from our visit to the temple, donation forget to press the HD button for best quality! And please let me know if you want more videos like this! We do have a Swedish youtube channel, but i love putting together clips like this.

 

 

THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW BEFORE VISITING KOH PHANGAN, THAILAND – TIPS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

Koh Phangan is famous for being a real party island. Ever heard about the Full Moon Party? It’s that huge party that makes this island an obvious destination for many party loving travellers. But if you want, you can avoid the alcohol and the loud music, and instead find a true tropical paradise. All you need to know is where to look for it, and I’m going to help you with that.

When talking to both the locals on Koh Tao and to other travellers we met who’d already been to the island, all the crazy partying keeps itself to the eastern part of the island.. If you want to live in the midst of the chaos, look for accommodation near or on Bottle Beach. But if you are looking for a more peaceful and relaxed place, I suggest you stay away from that area and look for places like the one we stayed in.

Accommodation

We stayed at a beautiful hotel named J.B Hut Bungalows right by Haad Yao Beach. The bungalows are situated very close to the beach, about a 3-5 minute walk away tops. But before making a reservation you should know that the bungalows sits on a hill/mountain so there is quite the steep uphill walk from the beach and back to the hotel. But a little exercise never hurts, and we were incredibly pleased with the accommodation.

We stayed here i a cozy little bungalow with our own bathroom, hot water shower, towels for both shower and beach, fan in the room (there are rooms with AC available), there was a very clean pool and a cozy porch with a hammock and outdoor furniture. The only negative part with the place was that there was no wi-fi in the rooms, only in the public areas such as in the restaurant and pool area.

The lady who owns the hotel is absolutely wonderful and it’s almost worth a stay just to be able to meet her. She is so incredibly kind and really does everything in her power to make your stay as good as possible. She is also a really good cook and the food served in the hotel restaurant was incredible.

Food and drinks

As I just mentioned we had amazing food at our hotel and we ended up eating there a lot since it was also very cheap. But we ate at other restaurant as well, and there is one place we can not recommend enough. House People is a restaurant in Haad Yao, serving everything from Thai food to BBQ. The restaurant is one of the highest rated restaurants on the island, and is owned by a super nice french guy. If you eat there we recommend the hamburgers and the fish, some of the best food we’ve had on the trip so far. The restaurant also has an awesome happy hour, with a “buy one get one free” thing with all drinks. You pay for one but get two, and i think it goes on between 5:30 pm to 8:00 pm or something like that. Really nice place, with a great atmosphere, really nice music and an awesome host.

Beaches

During our stay at Koh Phangan we didn’t lay on the beach very much. But we visit two beaches in the Saad Yao area and we fell in love with both. Haad Yao Beach was the beach right by our hotel. A very long, beautiful beach with turquoise waters and white sand. There are cozy restaurants and bars along the entire beach and it is a fairly popular beach which means there were a lot of people. However, not at the level that it became to much, and we had no trouble finding a place to put our towels down.

Secret Beach is a 10-15 minute walk from Haad Yao Beach. It really lives up to its name because we would’ve never found it without Google maps. The beach has such a tropical vibe to it. Not as many people, a couple of small cozy bars but nothing more than that. Beautiful turquoise waters and white sand, what more can you ask for?

Transportation

The island is quite small and the way to get around is by scooter. We were a bit more brave this time and hired one for almost the entire stay on the island, instead of just one day. The taxi fare from Thongsala Pier (where you arrive by boat/ferry), is roughly the same as the cost of a scooter for the day so in my opinion it’s definitely worth it. The taxi even costs more, the recommended fare from Thongsala to Hard Yao is 150 Baht per person, a scooter costs 250 Baht/24 hours. So we recommend the scooter.

The rental place we recommend this time is called EasyBikes, located in Tongsala. The best thing to do is to rent the scooter when you arrive at the pier, and then just return it when it’s time for you to leave. But if you’d rather travel by taxi with all your bags and stuff, they have free drop off and pick up service, which means that they will trop the scooter off at your hotel the day you need it, and then come and pick it up, all free of charge. They also do not require your passport when renting, but there is a cash deposit of 5000 Baht that is returned without any problems when the scooter is returned. The place does not have a single bad review on either Facebook or TripAdvisor.

Things you have to do!

1. Rent a scooter and make your way to Phaeng Waterfall. It’s an incredible hike up a mountain with several waterfalls along the way, and a beautiful viewpoint at the top. It’s quite the climb, but it was s with it. That daytrip was the highlight of our stay on the island.

2. The sunset at Haad Yao Beach!

Tips

1. Eat at House People in Haad Yao!

2. If you rent a scooter, make sure to bring a map when you go exploring.

3. There are plenty of ATMs on the island

4. There are 7/11 stores everywhere and they are open 24 hours a day.

5. Use mosquito repellent in the evenings.

6. Snorkel!

7. If you take a taxi from Tongsala to Haad Yao, it should not cost more than 150 Baht per person. They will try to make you pay twice that amount.

 

 

 

STUFF YOU NEED TO KNOW BEFORE VISITING KOH TAO, THAILAND – BACKPACKING

Hi guys!

We are currently in the city of Ayutthaya, a few hours north of Bangkok, after spending a couple of weeks on the islands Koh Tao and Koh Phangan. I thought I would review the islands a bit and tell you guys more about what we did, give you tips on what to do, what to think about and other good stuff about the location. I will start with a post about Koh Tao and then follow up with Koh Phangan.

Koh Tao, to explain Koh Tao with a few words, I’d say that it can only be described as a true diving paradise. Koh Tao apparently means Turtle Island, from what the locals told us. You can barely walk 5 minutes without seeing either a dive school or a dive shop. It’s an island with a real island vibe, it’s cozy, calm and everything rolls at its own pace. Of course there is some partying and other stuff going on, but mainly around Siree Beach, and only during the evenings/nights. If you’re celebrating New Year’s Eve on Koh Tao, Siree Beach is the place to be. Let’s just say, it was quite the party.

Accommodation

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We stayed at a place called Koh Tao Royal Resort, very close to Mae Head Pier. It’s the pier you will arrive at by boat. We stayed in a giant cozy bungalow and the hotel was right by a picturesque little beach. However, I have to point out that the beach had such a position in relation to the island that it was only sunny there later in the afternoon. So if you are looking for a hotel right by the beach, and want to lay in the sun just outside the hotel all day, then this is not the place for you. However, the island is very small and it’s easy to get around to other beaches.

 

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The bungalow we stayed in had a private bathroom, hot water shower, a fridge, fan (not AC but we have managed without AC the whole trip so far), mosquito nets and free wi-fi. You also get both shower towels and beach towels for free. The bungalow also had a very spacious balcony with outdoor furniture and a hammock. If you want to sit outside in the evenings, I recommend wearing mosquito repellent because there are a lot of mosquitoes in Thailand during the evenings.

The bungalow cost us around 35 USD per night.

Transportation

You get anywhere on the island by taxi, tuktuk, scooter and by just walking. Taxi drivers are everywhere so you won’t have any trouble getting a ride if you need it. Something to think about is to always research the taxi fares on the internet, they will overcharge you if you’re not careful. Always check the fares online, bargain their prices, be determined and if they do not agree with your price, just proceed to the next taxi. Because, as I said, there are plenty of taxi drivers everywhere.

When we travel around islands, we usually never travel by taxi or tuktuk. We love to hire scooters and to be able to explore on our own. If you’re like us and you love to explore, renting a scooter is a must. Costs usually range from 250-300 Baht per day. In some places you can also add full insurance on the scooter, which means that you won’t have to pay extra for scratches or other damages. If you decide to rent a scooter on Koh Tao, we recommend Oli’s Motorbike Rentals. NEVER leave your passport as a deposit if you are renting, check for places that accepts a copy of the passport together with a cash deposit. Oli’s takes passport-copies and a deposit of 3000 Baht which we got back as soon as we returned the scooter. No problems what so ever.

You can get to the island by ferry from Chumphon. We came from Bangkok and bought a joint ticket with a bus ticket and ferry ticket through the company Lomprayah. You can buy tickets online through a website called ferrysamui.com. Highly recommended, everything went very smoothly. We took a bus for about 6-7 hours from Bangkok down to Chumphon where we then took a ferry to the island which took about 1.5-2 hours. Bangkok to Koh Tao by bus and ferry cost us about 30 USD per person.

Beaches

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We explored a lot around the island while we were there but on our “beach days” we spent most of our time on Siree Beach. As I mentioned before, there is quite a lot of partying going on there in the evenings but nothing at all during the daytime. Other nice beaches are Freedom Beach and Shark Bay but they are quite difficult to reach without a scooter. Siree Beach is more easily accessible and we walked there from Mae Head in about 20 minutes.

Food/Drinks

There is an incredible variety of restaurants on the island. There is everything from Thai food to Swedish food. Generally, all food we ate was good and none of us got sick or anything on the island. To save money I would recommend you to eat the local foods. It is usually more expensive at places on the beach. We usually eat away from the beach and then move down to the ocean in time for the sunset. And look for bars that have happy hour, places often have a “buy one get one free” thing going on a couple of hours in the afternoon/evening or just a discount on the drinks. 

Things you need to do/see

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Rent a scooter and go to the south part of the island. There is so many beautiful places to see. Go down to Freedom Beach and follow the signs to John Suwan Viewpoint. It’s a bit of a hike to get up to it, and it may get a little rough at times, but it was one of the most beautiful views I have ever seen. Just remember to wear comfortable shoes and to bring lots of water. And don’t forget the sunscreen!  

 

Good to know

1. You can buy sim cards for your phone at 7/11 for about 400 Baht and get unlimited data usage. 

2. You can not flush toilet-paper down the toilets in Thailand.

3. Bring your own toilet paper in the bag you carry with you during the day. A lot of places don’t have toilet-paper in their bathrooms, and in some places they charge you for it.

4. Many places like restaurants, small shops and hotels will ask you to take your shoes off before you enter.

5. If you go to Koh Tao to get your diving licens, look for dive schools that offer accommodation as well!

6. There are 7/11 stores everywhere that are open 24 hours a day. So you don’t have to worry, they have everything!

7. Learn a few simple phrases in Thai like Hello and Thank you. It is very appreciated by the locals.

8. Pack an extension cord with multiple outlets. Often the hotel rooms have just one outlet, especially the bungalows.

9. If you need to get skincare products or shower products, look for the word WHITENING on the packaging. A lot of skincare stuff contains bleach in Asia.

10. There are ATMs everywhere on the island, so do not worry about not getting cash.

And as always, if you have any more questions, just comment down below!