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Thread: Trip along the Thai side of the Mekong River

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    Administrator Lone Rider's Avatar
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    Trip along the Thai side of the Mekong River

    [center:2yamaq2c]Trip along the Thai side of the Mekong[/center:2yamaq2c]

    On my trips to and from Laos I often travel along the Mekong as I can never get enough of it. Although I have seen quite bit of the Mekong both from the Thai and Lao side, there were still areas which "needed to be seen". On this trip the plan was to travel along the Mekong on the Thai border side for as much as possible and feasible. Starting from the Golden Triangle, the plan was to follow the Mekong till where it disappears in Laos near Ban Huay Lek and then drive to Ban Tha Di Mi north of Loei where the Mekong becomes again the border between Laos and Thailand till a bit east of Kong Chiam (Ban Win Buen) where the Mekong flows into Laos and then onwards to Cambodia and Vietnam.



    [center:2yamaq2c]Day 1 - Chiangmai to Sop Ruak and overnight in Chiankhong[/center:2yamaq2c]

    Leaving home, the weather did not look very promising and the closer I got to Sop Ruak and the Golden Triangle, the shies became darker and darker and by the time I reached the Golden Triangle where the Mekong becomes the border between Laos and Thailand, it was bucketing down. Taking pictures became difficult and most of them show a "grey and gloomy" world.


    The Mekong at the Golden Triangle as seen from Phratat Doi Phu Kao - The Nam Ruak, which is the border between Burma and Thailand, joins the Mekong (border between Burma and Laos) and becomes the border between Laos and Thailand.




    The Chiangsaen Immigration Checkpoint in Sop Ruak which facilitates gamblers who try their luck in the Chinese Casino on the Lao side of the Mekong.


    The rain slowed down a bit but it remained a very gloomy affair with dark grey skies


    Chiangsean is the main place where a lot of stuff like fruit, etc. arrives by boat from China



    The Mekong seen from Phratat Pha Ngao (N20.24553 E100.10103) in Ban Sop Kham

    In order to relief the hustle and bustle of all the freight loading and unloading at Chiangsean, a new harbor is being built a bit more to the east but, as the construction is not yet ready, access was denied.


    The turnoff to the new harbor - N20.23312 E100.14607



    The view of the Mekong from Wat Phratat Si Hua Wan (N20.24948 E100.17707) near Ban Saeo. Another lonely motor cycle tourist trying to keep his camera dry under a tree while taking pictures



    On clear days the Prasath Suwanna Kheukham on the Lao side (N20.40270 E100.26718) can be seen from the Rai Saeng Aroon Hotel on the Thai side - N20.39638 E100.29822 (picture of the view from the hotel taken on a clear day - picture by Rai Saeng Arun Hotel)



    Obligatory picture from the Huaisai Man View Point showing the Bokeo Technical and Vocational School in Laos


    With all the rains, the Mekong is rising and the water is flowing fast


    Later in the afternoon, the weather cleared up a bit and the sun peeked down from time to time.

    Checked in at the Tamila Guesthouse in Chiangkhong but as there was still some time left, I made a quick trip to see how the new bridge from Huayxay to Chiangkhong is progressing.




    Still a lot of work to be done before the bridge will be open to the public sometime in 2014.
    "Life is what happens to you while busy making other plans"

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    Senior Member alexuk's Avatar
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    Re: Trip along the Thai side of the Mekong River

    I like riding along the mekong too
    might have a bit to add to the laos map
    Do you think anyone has ridden across it yet? or jumped it?
    IF I get to the top then I turn and I go for a ride, then I get to the bottom and I see you again

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    Senior Member KTMphil's Avatar
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    Re: Trip along the Thai side of the Mekong River

    Nice pictures!

    Looks like that bridge is coming along nicely.


    Was this an overnight trip and then home?

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    Administrator Lone Rider's Avatar
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    Re: Trip along the Thai side of the Mekong River

    Quote Originally Posted by alexuk
    Do you think anyone has ridden across it yet? or jumped it?
    Attempts have been made by the North Thai Tea Drinking Society to jump over the Mekong - see http://www.gt-rider.com/thailand-motorc ... ump+Mekong. As far as I know they had to give up their attempts due to "unforeseen circumstances" which I won't delve into.

    Most of the members of the North Thai Tea Drinking Society seem to have migrated to this forum and I assume that, with the right amount of persuasion in what ever form, they might try to resurrect their plans.
    "Life is what happens to you while busy making other plans"

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    Administrator Lone Rider's Avatar
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    Re: Trip along the Thai side of the Mekong River

    Quote Originally Posted by KTMphil
    Was this an overnight trip and then home?
    No, the whole trip took a few days so there will be a few more boring posts with pictures showing grey overcast skies and plenty of muddy water.
    "Life is what happens to you while busy making other plans"

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    Senior Member Midnitemapper's Avatar
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    Re: Trip along the Thai side of the Mekong River

    I am now waking up to the advantages of that truck, must be dry and warm inside?
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    Senior Member KTMphil's Avatar
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    Re: Trip along the Thai side of the Mekong River

    Quote Originally Posted by Lone Rider
    Quote Originally Posted by KTMphil
    Was this an overnight trip and then home?
    No, the whole trip took a few days so there will be a few more boring posts with pictures showing grey overcast skies and plenty of muddy water.

    Not boring at all Mr. K, always interesting to try new places to stay and eat in smaller towns while on the road.

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    Administrator Lone Rider's Avatar
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    Re: Trip along the Thai side of the Mekong River

    Quote Originally Posted by Midnitemapper
    I am now waking up to the advantages of that truck, must be dry and warm inside?
    Yes, it is nice warm or cool and dry inside and can carry ample water and other supplies but on the other hand its use limits the places where I can get to - the truck does not fit on single trails although I often try.
    "Life is what happens to you while busy making other plans"

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    Senior Member Steve Canyon's Avatar
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    Re: Trip along the Thai side of the Mekong River

    Lr It's certainly is a must do ride/drive, I did the bit from Nong Khai to Chaing Khan. I struggled
    to keep my eyes on the road, beautiful part of Thailand...stunning views, great Tarmac and very little traffic.....



    This picture is my favourite from that part of the trip..



    I ended up in Loei....




    Here...great place to stay, will do this route again, the opposite way..

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    Administrator Lone Rider's Avatar
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    Re: Trip along the Thai side of the Mekong River

    [center:1afvtfv0]Trip along the Thai side of the Mekong - Day 2 Chiangkhong to Loei[/center:1afvtfv0]

    The next morning I take a quick peek out of my window at the Tammila GH and hope to see the sun coming up over Huayxai - nope, no luck again as I see only grey skies.



    After a nice breakfast at the Tamila Guesthouse - my favorite place for breakfast - it looks like it is clearing a bit so I get on my way to the place where the Mekong heads into Laos. From the 1020 I head east along the 1155 to N20.19597 E100.45705 where the road start running along the Mekong.



    From here - a new temple under construction - if one looks north, the site for the new border crossing bridge is clearly visible.




    Very quiet and peaceful here but the "duty calls". It is only a short ride from here to the point where the Thai-Lao border turns land inwards and the Mekong disappears into Laos


    The end of the road - about 50 meter behind the road-sign to the right is where the border turns land inwards.




    On the Thai side there are some buildings but it is very quiet here and the only living beings I see are a few dogs. The first picture was taken last year from the Lao side when the weather was considerable better


    On my way back I stop at Ban Huay Lek at the local border crossing but it is very quiet and the motorcycle taxis are patiently waiting for customers.

    From here it is a long drive to Ban Tha Di Mi north of Loei. I take the 1155 and although there is some rain once in a while, the sun is getting more active. From the 1155 I spot several asphalt roads to the east but I leave these for a next visit to this area to see where these lead to as I don't recall having seen these before




    From here I head to south of Nan to take the 1083 through the Si Nan National Park and the Mae Charim Wildlife Preserve. Really nice road with lots of curves and hardly any traffic. Only drawback is that the road has been repaired and there is a lot of loose gravel in the curves so I have to slow down a bit as the truck starts sliding through the curves. Beautiful views from here of the Nan River snaking through the forest.




    After the fast ride through the forests it is back to reality as the traffic is getting more busy and I have to slow down a bit as the kids are heading home from school.


    From here it is only 6 km. to the border with Laos and 39 km to the Mekong at Paklay

    Would have been nice to cross the border here as it it is only some 100 km to where I want to go but, as it is only a local border crossing, I am not allowed to cross here. The initial plan was to head straight along the 1268 through the Phu Soi Dao and the Na Heao National Parks and then the 2195 to Ban Ta Di Mi but, as it is getting late and as it will be a long day (covered today about 700 km.) I decide to head to Loei instead (overnight in the Orchid Hotel in Loei - 450 Baht/night with free WiFi).
    "Life is what happens to you while busy making other plans"

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    Senior Member KTMphil's Avatar
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    Re: Trip along the Thai side of the Mekong River

    Fantastic report LR - lots of places people havn't been and will be food for thought for sure, thankyou.

    I do love R 1268 done it many times, a great way to get to Loei or Nong Khai, from Chiang Mai, fabulous views.

    Loei Orchid hotel looks interesting as an alternative to the great value King Hotel in Loei.

    Loei Orchid Hotel:



    Prices pretty similar to the King Hotel:


    Location of the Loei Orchid Hotel:


    Contact details:

    Loei Orchid Hotel
    1/41 sathon Chiangkhan Road,
    Thambon Kudpong,
    Amphur Muang,
    Loei 42000

    Tel. : +66 (0)42 861888-9
    Fax. : + 66 (0)42-861885
    Mobile phone : +66 (0)89-7102181
    +66 (0)81-7579517

    We're headed that way in 10 days so this is great info.

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    Senior Member KTMphil's Avatar
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    Re: Trip along the Thai side of the Mekong River

    Interesting to see Thai road signs with distances to towns and cities within Laos.


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    Re: Trip along the Thai side of the Mekong River

    Great report LR!! Even some nice clear pics it looks like north of Nan.

    Are there dirt truck roads that parallel the river from Loei heading west and north in the direction back to Chiang Khong?

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    Administrator Lone Rider's Avatar
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    Re: Trip along the Thai side of the Mekong River

    [center:bjrpz2lz]Trip along the Thai side of the Mekong - Day 3 Loei to Nakhon Phanom[/center:bjrpz2lz]

    Off to an early start on the way to Ban Ta Di Mi - the place where the Mekong appears again from Laos and becomes the border between Laos and Thailand. Luckily, after two grey and rainy days, finally some sunlight.


    On the right the Mekong and on the left the Nam Hueang with Laos taking up most of the space in the picture with the trees in the foreground being in Thailand.

    The Nam Hueang is the border between Laos and Thailand but at this point the Nam Hueang flows into the Mekong and the Mekong becomes the border. This whole area may change in the future in case Laos proceeds with the construction of dams to generate hydro-electric power as one of the dams is planned to be constructed just upstream from here (somewhere where the mountain range starts in the picture).




    Phra Phut Nawamin Tara Mongkhong Lila Winnakhara Phirak, better know as "Phra Yai" (that is also the name you will see on the trafic signs) gazing into Laos.


    The Monastic Residence with an oversized flag on a bamboo flagpole. The statue of Phra Yai is probably part of the "Pak Nam Hueang Monastic Residence" which is just a few hundred meters of the statue.

    On the Lao side there is a ferry crossing which links Xanakham on the Mekong with Kenethao and the Nam Hueang. Kenethao is the international border crossing between Laos and Thailand and from here you can travel to Paklay, Xayaboury and Luang Prabang.




    The ferry on the Kenethao side







    From here it was a leisure ride along the Mekong to Nongkhai, stopping here and there to have a look at life along the river like fishponds, sand winning, viewpoints with small sala's to sit down, etc.




    The ferry at Ban Khok Phai to Vang/Namhi on the Lao side (local border crossing only - picture taken from the Lao side)


    Someone from the Highway Department has built a nice home for himself on government property on the Mekong



    Just a bit further you can turn away from the Mekong a bit to visit Wat Pha Tak Suea from where you have tremendous views over the Mekong











    Travelling a bit further along the Mekong you will find Wat Hin Mak Peng on the Thai side and Wat Tham Pha on the Lao side

    Wat Hin Mak Peng was founded by Ajarn Tate, a well-known meditation teacher in the forest tradition of the South-East Asian Therevada school. Ajarn Tate was born in a poor family and became a monk at the age of 14. Throughout his life he made journeys through the forests around the Mekong River and in Southern Thailand. As a homeless monk he stayed with hill-tribes, villagers and camped in the forests. In 1977 he settled in Wat Hin Mak Peng, at that time a remote and 'haunted' place.

    Getting closer to Nongkhai, the city of Vientiane appears. The river front on the Lao side has changed quite a bit during the last year with a lot of the restaurants and bars on the Mekong having to made place for the Chao Anouvong Park and a statue of Chao Anouvong, the last king of the former Lao kingdom of Lan Xang.




    The riverfront of Vientiane with the Mekong River Commission office on the right and the Saentavan and other hotels on the left.

    In case you are interested in the history, there is a nice casestudy at the website of "Voices for the Laotian Who do not have Voices" - see here: http://khampoua.wordpress.com/2010/1...ic-anu-edu-au/

    Here is also a YouTube movie made by someone of the official unveiling of the statue of Chao Anouvong:



    The Friendship Bridge at Nongkhai



    The trip along the Mekong continued with lots of temples along the river. One of these is Wat Ahong Silawat with another temple on the Lao side

    The temple is located at what seems to be the deepest point of the Mekong at a spot sometimes called "The Navel of the Mekong" as there are lots of whirlpools from June to September. This also the place where the first "Naga Fireballs" were seen rising up out of the Mekong at the end of the Buddhist Lent. There are lots of stories and explanations on what these fireballs. Here is one background story: http://www.thaifolk.com/doc/literate.../payanak_e.htm and here is a YouTube movie of the fireballs rsing up from the water:




    Next stop was at Buengkhan which is another international border crossing with Pakxane in Laos by ferry and a brief stop at the site where the Nam Kading joins the Mekong from Laos.



    From here, as it was getting later, it was off to Nakhon Phanom with a brief stop at the new bridge over the Mekong just north of Nakhon Phanom. This bridge is expected to be open at the end of this year and replaces the present ferry crossing at Nakhon Phamom to Thakheak in Laos. It is not sure if this bridge will be open to motorbikes but, considering the situation at the other border crossings by bridge at Nongkhai to Vientiane and Mukdahan to Savannakhet, most probably there will be one place less where motor bikes can cross.


    View from the Nakhon Phamom River View Hotel (490 Baht/night with free wifi if it works) over the Mekong to Thakheak.
    "Life is what happens to you while busy making other plans"

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    Senior Member KTMphil's Avatar
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    Re: Trip along the Thai side of the Mekong River

    Fantastic Mr. K, a real eye opener to places we all overlook, thanks so much.

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    Senior Member Steve Canyon's Avatar
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    Re: Trip along the Thai side of the Mekong River

    Think I better go with you next time LR....

    This picture is fantastic...



    Thanks

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    Senior Member KTMphil's Avatar
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    Re: Trip along the Thai side of the Mekong River

    Chris - after some of the rainy season " incidents" we've had I wouldn't mind getting in that pick-up too.

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    Senior Member Captain_Slash's Avatar
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    Re: Trip along the Thai side of the Mekong River

    I see you are a regular visitor to Ban Ta Di Mi then Auke, I often stop there for photos
    Drinking non-alcoholic beer is like giving oral sex to your own sister

    It tastes the same, but its not right

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    Administrator Lone Rider's Avatar
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    Re: Trip along the Thai side of the Mekong River

    Captain,

    Yes, I really like it over there - can sit there for a long time soaking up the silence while looking at the Mekong and Laos and thinking about life in general and how simple things can be so satisfying.
    "Life is what happens to you while busy making other plans"

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    Administrator Lone Rider's Avatar
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    Re: Trip along the Thai side of the Mekong River

    [center:5rkfge29]Trip along the Thai side of the Mekong - Day 4 (last day) Nakhon Phanom to Khong Chiam / Ban Win Buen[/center:5rkfge29]

    Today again an early departure as there were many things to see and visit - at least that was the plan. Last night when I was downloading the pictures from my camera, the darned thing died on me for unknown reason so had to make do with my mobile phone camera for the remainder of the trip.

    Nakhon Phanom is an International Border Crossing Point to Laos. The crossing is at this moment still by ferry but later this year, the new bridge a bit north of Nakhon Phanom witll replace the ferry.




    The Thai Immigration Office at the Mekong, the truck ferry and the passenger boats to Laos

    From here it was a quick visit to see the sacred Phratat Nakhon (for people born on a Sunday) at Wat Mahathat - see http://www.blogs.1stopthailand.com/2...sacred-spires/



    Phratat Nakhon

    There are numerous rapids in the Mekong and along my trip I went to see a few - unfortunately, the water was high so most of them had "temporarily disappeared" under the water. A few of the more well known are the Kaeng Krabao rapids at N16 48 09.2 E104 44 00.1 , Hat Mano Phirom at N16 40 48.9 E104 45 08.0 and the Kaeng Hin Kan Rapids at N16 07 31.9 E105 01 53.0




    Kaeng Krabao, the temple at Hat Mano Phirom and Kaeng Hin Kan

    Along my trip I made short detours to villages and small town along the Mekong but most of the "attractions" mentioned along the road, I found most of them disappointing. This is not to say that these were not attractive but, as the water level was high, most of them were not visible at this moment.

    One of the more interesting sites was Wat Phra To, also known as Wat Pak Saeng or rather the Buddha statue in the temple - http://www.chimburi.com/thai597.htm and the views of Laos from the temple grounds


    Phra Chao Yai Ong Tue at Wat Phra To

    A bit further to the south is the Pha Taem National Park with several caves, rock formations, rock paintings, etc. Had a quick view of some of the sights but, as I had set my mind at reaching the final point where the Mekong disappears again into Laos and on to Cambodia and Vietnam, I skipped a visit to to the rock paintings, something I later came to regret.










    At Khong Chiam the Mun river flows into the Mekong and creates a "2 color" effect but today that was not visible - just one muddy brown Mekong and the flow of the Mun (Moon) river was not strong enough to change the color of the water.



    The Mun (Moon) river joining the Mekong at Khong Chiam

    It was at this place that my truck developed problems with the brakes - reversing the car and braking was no problem but then moving forward the brakes just failed till miraculously they would start working again till I would reverse again and the brakes would be gone again the moment I moved forward. The local village mechanic I went to scratched his head and said he might or might not be able to solve the problem. So in the end I decided to head to a bigger town and to find a shop specialized in brakes but not before I went to the point where I could see the Mekong disappear again into Laos (was only a few kilometers to go).

    Drove on a bit on to the Kaeng Tana National Park trying to reach the final point but there was no path going to the border line, at least I could not find it at the school in Ban Win Buen so I found a nice spot to be able to see where the Mekong flows into Laos.



    The Mekong disappears into Laos about a kilometer past where the boats are anchored.


    Well, what did I miss on this trip - actually quite a few things and maybe the next time I should take more time to include to see more of the local attractions. One of the things I definitely want to see the next time I go are the Pha Taem rock paintings (http://www.thailandsworld.com/index.cfm?p=884) but this will have to wait till I am again in that area.


    One of the many Rock Paintings
    "Life is what happens to you while busy making other plans"

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