Long way from Nong Khai to Chiang Mai
Replies: 15 - Last Post: Oct 16, 2012 12:53 PM Last Post By: zoetropical
Sep 13, 2012 12:25 AM
We are going to be in Nong Khai in mid-October and will then go to Chiang Mai. We could fly with Nok Air from Udon Thani but have some spare time so were thinking of taking the long/scenic way through Chiang Khan/Loei/Pak Chom, which according to LP, we can do by bus.
Which would be a good town to stay overnight (don't want an overnight bus trip) between Nong Khai and Chiang Mai and will bad weather will impact on this trip ie close roads? We could take three days rather than two to do this trip. I know that it is a 10 hour bus trip from Loei to Chiang Mai and would prefer to be on bus for a shorter time. Is it an option to do part of the trip by train. We could go to Phitsanulok from Loei by bus but it seems we would be getting on the Chiang Mai train in the middle of the night.
Any suggestions before we settle for flying would be much appreciated.
Sep 13, 2012 1:55 AM
Sep 13, 2012 1:56 AM
2I have done this route several times by car/motorbike/bus/train. The 211 road from Nong Khai to Chiang Khan is very scenic and there are a couple very small guesthouses in Sangkhom or bungalow places in Pak Chom or riverside guesthouses in Chiang Khan. Public transport along this route is very limited however. If you want mod cons and comfort it's hard to beat the King Hotel in downtown Loei (500b aircon tv fridge hot shower, best value for money in Thailand), plus you have many more transport options there. The busy highway route via Udon Thani and Nong Bua Lamphu pretty much sucks and I try to avoid it. I prefer to go from Loei via Dan Sai and Nakhon Thai and regularly see buses doing that route. Then you can go to Phitsanulok (maybe overnight there) and grab a train to add some variety to your experience, or take the quieter bus route via Chat Trakan and Uttaradit. Highway 11 via Denchai and Lampang gets fairly boring especially after Lampang when it becomes a high-speed roller coaster. I like your train idea from Phitsanulok (daytime Sprinter) with the nicest scenery being the last few hours before CM. Do the bus/train journey over 2-3 days if you want to take in the scenery and experience more of "real Thailand" or do the flight if you just want to connect the dots.
Sep 13, 2012 2:32 AM
3There is no bus service between Pak Chom and Chiang Khan lately. There are local buses that ply NongKhai to Pak Chom along the scenic route 211 but it's only 3 times per day. Then you have to make your own plans to get to Loei. OR you go down to Udon (hourly and takes 1 hour) and get the more frequent buses to Loei, and then get a sorngthaew up to Chiang Khan - it's a great place to spend an overnight.
Loei to Phitsanulok is easy - frequent buses from 0600 to 1600.
Trains from Phitsanulok to CM depart at 1319, 1921, 2306, 0011 - you don't have to take the 0150 or the 0441!
Sep 13, 2012 2:34 AM
4As Captain Bon says ... public transport along that route is a bit difficult, but I am sure there is public transport from Nong Khai to Loei although that might not go along the mots beautiful route.
Indeed the route along the Mekong river from Nong Khai to Chiang Khan is beautiful and from there it is only 50km to Loei. Indeed King Hotel is a good hotel. And Loei is a nice provincial small city. Then the route from Loei to Dan Sai is beautiful, with great mountain ranges (and a lot of Thai recent history) nearby. I am sure there will be an bus going from Loei to Dan Sai or Lom Sak (or even Phitsanulok).
If you have time, rent yourself a car and spend a few days in that area. Sleep at 1600m high on top of Phu Tabeak. Visit Phu Hin Rong Khla. And ride via Nakhon Thai to Uttradit.
BTW do you know that you could exit Laos from Tha-LI (just west of Chiang Khan)? And that you can travel over land from Luang Prabang to Thai-Li?
Sep 13, 2012 2:35 AM
Sep 13, 2012 2:42 AM
6Thank you all so much for being so helpful and so quick. Sounds like it will make a good three day trip so we'll scrap the plane idea. Thanks for the suggestions on guest houses as well. We'll have a few days in Nong Khai so should be able to get more detail from there. I obviously need to find a more detailed train time timetable too.
Sep 13, 2012 3:01 AM
7This is up-to-date, though the "alphabetical" index (not) might drive you mad!
The other decent one is the revamped maninseat61.com site
Sep 13, 2012 4:14 AM
8Much easier to download the timetable from here than use the check time
Just scroll down a bit and you will see the download part on the right hand side as using the timetable you have to click on the indivual trains to see the times at Phitsanulok
Sep 13, 2012 1:46 PM
If you think so. There aren't any buttons for the Northern Line, so you don't get to download that particular timetable. That puts you back to the section simply headed "Timetable", where, as you say, you have to click on each train to see if it stops at Phitsanulok and when. I don't see how it's easier to have to click each train to get a picture.
Putting the start and stop station in the Check Times section gives you a one-panel view of all the relevant trains.
Even easier, really, is this
http://www.seat61.com/Thailand.htm#Bangkok to Chiang Mai
But - whatever!
Sep 14, 2012 3:51 AM
Sep 14, 2012 4:30 AM
Sep 14, 2012 5:19 AM
12Yes it is always a surprise if they are on time but at least you nearly always get a good estimation of how late
having said that the last time I arrived in Thailand and headed straight to Don Muang from the new airport to catch a train to Lop Buri I was expecting a 45 minute wait so it was a pleasant surprise to be told that the previous train was 20 minutes late and would be there in one minutes time - Result!
Sep 14, 2012 7:56 AM
13If you are going to go to Chiang Khan, I'd seriously consider hopping off the bus in Pak Chom and hiring a cab to take you the rest of the way. It might be slightly expensive, but that stretch of the river is one of the most attractive drives in the country. Worth it!
Buoy Bungalow in Sangkhom is an excellent, inexpensive, no frills bungalow operation with great food and fantastic views over to the island Don Khlang Khong in Laos. It may be a bit too close to Nong Khai for you, though.
Edited by: DoctorBogenbroom
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