Chiang Khong is a little border town sitting across the River Mekong from Laos. If you make the Huay Xai border crossing, Chiang Khong is where you will end up.
We planned to stop here for one night to regroup and plan the next few days across Northern Thailand before heading on. Our stay would be an in/out operation with Royal Marines precision. Chiang Khong had other ideas.
Our first evening was spent at the Bamboo Mexican Restaurant, which did pretty awesome Mexican food freshly cooked to order! The owner – a rather colourful chap – serenaded us with live guitar music in between serving us tasty Enchiladas. They also do a decent breakfast and freshly made bread, which I can confirm – having acquired a sample from the kitchen – is delicious.
Full but not ready for bed, we headed across the road to Chiang Roy bar, which was showing a Liverpool match from the early 1990s and had a charmingly wonky pool table. Roy, it turns out, is a massive Liverpool fan and had scouse paraphernalia dotted all around the bar. Craig – also a Liverpool fan – had met a soul mate.
To commiserate Liverpool’s 20-year-old 2-1 loss against QPR, we headed for one final drink at the Hub Pub. The Hub Pub is owned by an extreme endurance cyclist called Alan Bate, who set a record for circumnavigating the globe by bike in 106 days. He is now something of a local celebrity and runs a bar and hostel. Judging by the theme of the bar, I’m guessing he hails from around Liverpool as well!
Sadly, we didn’t get to meet Alan (ironically he was back in the UK), but we did meet his lovely wife instead! The one drank ran into two, then three and then… there was some drumming and some Fleetwood Mac. It all goes a bit hazy at that point if I’m honest.
The next morning, we were in no fit state to head to Chiang Rai, our next stop, and wandered the streets like zombies searching for rehydration and a new guest house (ours was grim and dingy). We had a tough time on both counts. Chiang Khong is a hedonistic host who will lead you astray and do nothing to help you recover or do your laundry the morning after. Having nursed a few watermelon shakes, found a new room in the Baan Fai Guest House and inhaled some tasty Pad Thai noodles, we headed back to see Craig’s BFF Roy to watch another – thankfully more current – Liverpool match. I know. Lucky me.
Thankfully the victory celebrations were more subdued this evening, and the next day we boarded the local bus for the winding ride over to Chiang Rai.
Moving on – how to get from Chiang Khong to Chiang Rai
- There are a few tour companies on the main street, who can fix you up with tickets to Chiang Rai or Chiang Mai
- Alternatively, there is a local bus just across the road from the 7/11 store which takes about 2 – 3 hours and departs regularly. The tickets (purchased on the bus) cost ฿65 each (about £1.20) and the bus is perfectly comfortable. The bus stop is on the main road but isn’t marked, so the best option is to ask your guesthouse or a local to direct you to the bus to Chiang Rai – they will happily do so.