Huay Xai Travel Guide
Huay Xai (Thai ห้วยทราย, Lao ຫ້ວຍຊາຍ) is a small city located in the north of Laos, which lies on the East of the Mekong River, overlooking Thailand on the West. It is just over the border from Chiang Khong, near the golden triangle. Chiang Rai and Chiang Mai are the closest large cities in Thailand.
Huay Xai is the beautiful city here you can do trekking, kayaking, city tour, biking
One of the most popular Thing to do in Huay Xai is the Tree House Experience a zip-lining adventure in the canopies of the Nam Kan National Park. It is also very common to take the slow boat to Luang Prabang from here. This is a two-day journey and a popular option for travelers moving through Laos.
Bokeo, (Thai บ่อแก้ว, Lao ບໍ່ແກ້ວ) meaning ‘gem mine’ is the smallest province in Laos, but one of the most ethnically diverse, with over 30 recognized ethnic groups. The Lahu, a Tibeto-Burman speaking tribe common in Northern Myanmar and Thailand are present in Bokeo in significant proportions. The province is located in the heart of the famous “Golden Triangle” sharing borders with Luang Namtha as well as Myanmar and Thailand.
Kapok Festival (ເທດສະການບຸນດອກວິ້ວບານ)
The Kapok festival takes place in Bokeo province, which is located in the northwest of Laos.
The Golden Triangle Casino opened in 2009, and the same year they began organizing the Kapok Blooming Festival. This festival is organized yearly through the end of January and the beginning of February. It takes place over five days at Don Sao Island, Ton Peung district.
From Huay Xai to Don Sao island you can go by road, it is 70 kilometers and will take about 1:30 hours to get there. Halfway to the island there is a village call Nam kua. The main food here you don’t want to miss is “Kao Soy” noodle soup with pork.
Kapok Festival on the island is situated in the middle of the Mekong River, and is the location of the festival due to the large number of kapok trees. The kapok flowers bloom at this time of year, with the outstanding shining red and orange color covering the island creating a lovely display.
The purpose of this event is to conserve the wild kapok trees – this is an important Lao tradition, particularly for people in the Ton Peung district.
They open the Kapok Festival about 9-10 days, they have boxing fight, crow fight,
The activities organized are the “Miss Kapok Flower Contest”, a Lao folk dance, an art performance from the nearby villages, a local products exhibition and several sport competitions. This yearly festival draws thousands of people to view the colorful blossoms.
Contact operator Miss contest: 020 2238 4779, 5511 3381, 5501 3892
Contact operator sell 5886 4446
How to cross the new border Thai – Lao Friendship Bridge 4 from Chiang Khong to Huay Xai.
Chiangkhong immigration (procedure)
Take a TukTuk from Chiang khong to Thai border. Upon arrival at the boarder you will need an exit stamp, do not leave without this! You then take a bus to the Laos boarder, this should cost around 20 THB. When you buy the ticket at the office they invite you to change the Lao money don’t do it the late is to low (get Lao money at Lao border). When you arrive at the border you will need to fill in your visa request form and pay the visa fee. Once you have your visa you can go through customs and enter Laos.
“The easy way”
Huay Xai Immigration
- 30 day visa on arrival (around 35 USD depending on nationality or 1500 baht)
- You will need a passport photo for the visa (40 baht if you don’t have one).
- Note – check your passport for the Visa and keep it to hand, it will be checked again as you exit.
- If you travel over the weekend there is an additional fee of 1 USD (weekend fee).
- If you travel after 4 pm there is also an additional fee of 1 USD.# Someone have two passport Thai and an AustralianIf someone check in Australian passport to Thailand, should be check out by Australian passport to LaosLao immigration not accept Thai passportBecause can’t do two passport
- Yes we need you passport this is for the police will check your passport detail and government tax
Crossing the border Huay Xai immigration
Once at the border with your visa in hand, you can cross into Laos via the following options:
- Take a shuttle bus across the Friendship for approx 20 baht + 5 baht overtime (40 baht after 6pm).
- Take a TukTuk to the bus station, which will cost approx 10 000 – 15 000 kip (5 minute approx).
- TukTuk to Huay Xai City will cost approx 20 000 – 25 000 kip (30 minute approx).
How to cross from Huay Xai to Chiang Khong
The Lao immigration is south of the town about 10 kilometers away. Take the Tuk Tuk for 30 minutes to the friend ship bridge No 4.
When you get to the Lao border there are 2 banks, the first one in front of the Lao immigration and the second one is behind that. You can exchange Lao money to Thai money. Then continue to passport control on the right hand side. You have to fill in your departure card before checking out.
There are no fees between 8am to 16:30pm.
Over time charge of 10,000 kip or 1 US$ from 6am to 8am, 16:30pm to 22pm.
There is an all-day charge at the weekend.
Then you have to buy the shuttle bus ticket to cross the bridge. It costs 7,000 kip, 25 baht or 1 US$. The bus will wait for more people to join the bus. It takes about 20 or 25 minutes. After 6 pm the charge is 10 000 kip or 40 baht. The bus then waits about 30 minutes to take off again.
The shuttle bus needs couple of minutes to cross the bridge.
When you arrive at the Thai border you need to walk on the left hand side, then someone will give you an arrival card. You have to complete this card for the check in process.
Visa extension in Huay Xai
If needed you can extend your Laos tourist visa at the immigration Office at the Friendship bridge number 4. It costs about $9 US a day to extend. Otherwise you can go to Thailand and then come back to Laos and get a new 4 week visa.
If someone stay over, they charge you US$10 a day
If you check out from when you comeback you have to pay again for visa
Lost phone call or your passport control in Huay Xai in northern Laos
I just let you know if you lost your phone, bag or something else here
If you need it back to you, if you need the police to help you, if the police found it they charge for service (help) and shipping 100% of your products.
If you lost your at the Lao border, slow boat pier and somewhere in guesthouse
Lao police can help you.
Contact police: +85684212361
Huay Xai police: +856305826848
Bus and minivan from Huay Xai to Chiang Rai
The bus and van are available from Huay Xai to Chiang Rai, it takes 2:30 hour.
The van starts from the Thai border, there are 2 times at 10:30 am and 5:30 am, however if you are in the town you can buy the ticket there some agents charge you 85,000 – 100,000 kip. Starting from town by Tuk Tuk at 8:30 am and 4 pm.
If you take the Tuk Tuk by yourself to Huay Xai border it costs 12,000 – 25,000 kip.
The bus to Chiang Rai starts from Phetaloun bus station at 9 am and 4:30 pm, (this bus goes directly from Huay Xai to Chiang Rai and back.
The ticket costs 65,000 kip or 250 baht, you don’t have to pay the shuttle bus ticket to cross the bridge.
If you take a Tuk Tuk by yourself to the bus station it costs 15,000 – 25,000 kip.
If you would like to go by yourself take a TukTuk to Lao border and cross the friendship bridge, then take the TukTuk to the red bus, the red bus takes 2:30 hour to Chiang Rai. It cost 65 baht. They drop you at the city bus station.
Bus and minivan from Huay Xai to Chiang Mai
I recommend 3 ways from Huay xai to Chiang Mai.
The first one, by van is popular for tourist, start from the town at 8:30 am and 4 pm to Lao border and Thai border, the van starts at the Thai-side 2 times at 10:30am and 5:30 am, the ticket costs 85,000 – 100,000 kip. This price is including TukTuk and shuttle bus ticket.
If you take a Tuk Tuk by yourself to the border of Huay Xai it costs 12,000 – 25,000 kip.
The second one, by bus starts from the town at 8:30 am to Lao border and Thai border, the Thai agency will pick you up there 2 times:
The first time departure from the bus station at 9:45am, it takes 5 hours.
The ticket costs 415 baht for VIP sit it main sit in the fort and big sit.
The ticket costs 290 baht for normal sit.
The second time departure from the bus station at 10:30am, it takes 7 hours. The ticket costs 100,000 – 150,000 kip. This price is including TukTuk, shuttle bus ticket and pick up.
If you take a Tuk Tuk by yourself to the Huay Xai border it cost 12,000 – 25,000 kip.
The bus ticket there costs 290 baht.
The last one, take a TukTuk to Lao border and cross the friendship bridge, then take the TukTuk to the red bus, the red bus takes 2:30 hour to Chiang Rai. It cost 65 baht. They drop you at the city bus station.
From Chiang Rai to Chiang Mai by green bus.
Huay Xai bank and ATM
There are 2 banks and 3 ATM in the Huay Xai central.
The main one is Basque Pour Le Commerce Exteriors Lao Public (BCEL) bank
Is located in the town of Huay Xai , it is next to the Thavesinh Hotel, this bank is good rate for exchange, easy quickly for foreigner , just go there and they will help you, you can get money from your card machine
They open at 8:30 am – 3:30 pm on Monday to Friday
2 ATM in front of the bank, this ATM accepts Visa and MasterCard, credit card, debit card.
ATM Mobile: 020 56649094
Phongsavanh bank in Huay Xai
It is in the north of the town it is opposite the mobile shop, this bank is open at 8:30 am – 3:30 pm, but they also open small box on the left on Saturday and Sunday for exchange.
1 ATM on the right of the bank, this ATM accepts Visa and MasterCard, credit card, debit card.
If do you would like to get the money from ATM, it charge 20,000 kip in 2, 5 US$.
When you put your card in it show up the choice 200,000 kip, 500,000 kip, 700,000 kip, 1,000,000 kip and the maximum is 1,500,000 kip.
ATM Mobile: 020 56649094
Huay Xai Vientiane by flights
Huay Xai’s airport is about 6 kilometers from town.
There is a daily flight with Lao skyway from Vientiane – Huay xai – Vientiane
The flights depart from Vientiane to Huay xai 8: 30 – 9: 30 am
The flights depart from Huay xai to Vientiane 10: 20 – 11: 20 am
How early do I need to arrive and check in at the airport?
This is a domestic flight check in between 7 – 9 am
You can book from agency in the town
This airplane is total 56 seats
Early booking for 10 seats the price is 400,000 kip
The second price 20 seats is 675,000 kip
The last 25 seats is 699,000 kip
Private minivan from Huay Xai to Luang Prabang
the cost 12,000 bahts/ van
Pubic minivan from Huay Xai to Luang Prabang
the cost 180,000 kip
Private car from Huay Xai to Luang Prabang
the cost 10,000 bahts/ car
Activity to do in Huay Xai
Huay Xai Morning Market
Morning Market called “Talat Sao”, Laotians called (ຕະຫລາດເຊົ້າ) & Thai called (ตลาดเช้า ห้วยทราย) this is in the early morning between 6-9 am. It’s easy to get there by a Tuk Tuk or just walk down the main road (KhemKhong road). Walk about 15 minutes, go straight 10 minutes and then turn left when you past the agriculture bank walk straight 5 minutes again to get there later on you can ask someone along the way.
You can buy there fresh fruit, vegetable, fish, meat (buffalo, chicken, pork, beef), many food stalls with noodle soup, fish on the grill, BBQ meat and also you can buy there fresh vegetable rolls in rice paper and another local delicious food.
Huay Xai night market
There is a quaint little night market which is located on the south side of Huay Xai, just a 5 minute walk from the central area (where most of the guest houses are).
As it is just starting up, there are only about 300m of stalls at the roadside. However, you can eat a wide variety of foods, buy various toys and play a game of ‘throw the dart at the balloons’.
The foods range from grilled chicken, beef and chicken feet to pad Laos and delicious crepes with various fillings. Drinks such as lime tea, coconut water and fruit smoothies are also abundant.
I settled with the pad Lao, which was delicious. I ran over the road to get myself a beer Lao to wash it down with. All this while sitting at the roadside overlooking the Mekong River and Thailand on the other side.
Locals are trying looking to improve the size of the market in the future in order to attract more tourists to Huay Xai. At the moment, it is a very personal affair, which gives the town character and a friendly atmosphere. I glad I spent a couple of days here to get acquainted with the Laos culture before moving on.
Restaurants in Huay Xai
This one call Mingmeaung restaurant is on the main road at the corner near Sabaydee guesthouse , the main food here is pork sausage, grill chicken, grill pork, sour pork Here you can order your own menu
Sausage eat with sticky rice, there also two sausages one sweet and another one spicy
Huay Xai Temple
Wat chomkao Manilat, this is the main temple, it’s located in the town of Huay Xai. This temple was built in 1880, it easy to get on there just walk up 176 stairs to the top
How to get there: on the right side of the main road (opposite side of Mekong Smile Cruise) you will climb up to the temple where you will see a nice view of the Mekong River, also the big stupa and a lot of small Buddha images.
In the temple there are 170 novices and 8 Monks
Why so many novices on there?
Because the boys or already novices come there for an education from another temples
One novice school is close to the temple, this school is one in the town, this school for the novice. The school is supported by Thai king.
Traditional massage in Huay Xai
This massage is in the town next to Hom Pho guesthouse, here you will relax Lao massage
Body massage cost 50,000 kip per hours
Oil massage cost 100,000 kip per hours
Mob: +8562099997883,+8562055822945, +6681338841
Muang Keo morning market Bus
At Muang Keo market in Huay Xai northern Laos, the bus depart at 7:30 am -5 pm, when they enough people, from Huay Xai to Ton Phueng district (near the golden triangle)
The bus take about 1 hours, 65 kilometers to Ton Phueng, the cost 25,000 kip per person
70 kilometers to golden triangle, the cost 300,00 kip per person
Bus station call: +85620 9121 8989, +85630 5419752