Chiang Khong is a chilled out riverside town in the far north of Thailand. It faces across the Mekong River to Huay Xai in Laos. Until the opening of the Thai-Laos Friendship Bridge 4, the ferry port in Chiang Khong was the departure point from Thailand for journeys to Northern Laos as well as the Laos tourism loop through Luang Prabang and Vang Vieng to Vientiane. Mekong riverboats for Luang Prabang depart from Huay Xai.
The Friendship Bridge is 10kms from Chiang Khong. Since it opened late in 2013, travellers now tend to bypass Chiang Khong when on their way to and from Laos. Despite this, a select few attractions, a relaxing ambience and an attractive riverside setting make it worthwhile spending at least a day or so here. The following guide provides information about what there is to see and do when visiting Chiang Khong plus recommendations for accommodation, places to eat and how to get here.
Last Updated: June 2019
WHAT TO SEE
Wat Phra Kaew
Not as well-known as its namesake in Bangkok, Wat Phra Kaew is Chiang Khong’s oldest temple and features a lovely main hall (viharn), a lofty chedi and a sizeable collection of Buddha statues. Wat Phra Kaew is right in the centre of town and enjoys a position between the high street and the riverside walkway.
Wat Phra Kaew: T. Wiang, A. Chiang Khong, Chiang Rai 57140
Wat Luang Chan
Wat Luang Chan is a three minute walk south from Wat Phra Kaew. A definite highlight of Luang Chan Temple is an ornate viharn with interior walls covered in colourful murals. A gold chedi and lots of statues of naga, Buddha and various other beings ensure this temple is a must on culture tours of the town.
Wat Luang Chan: T. Wiang, A. Chiang Khong, Chiang Rai 57140
Wat Sri Don Chai
Two massive temple dog statues stand on either side of the main gateway to Wat Sri Don Chai and are really photogenic. The viharn boasts intricate decorative artwork which is a testament to the skills of local artisans. Other attractions of this temple are statues and a shaded garden perfect for resting on hot days.
Wat Sri Don Chai: #124, T. Wiang, A. Chiang Khong, Chiang Rai 57140 | Open: 08:00-17:00 (Daily)
The Hub Museum Bicycle Collection
A collection of retro bicycles is housed at the Hub Pub and Funky Box Guesthouse. The museum was founded by Guinness World Record cyclist Alan Bate. The quirky exhibits and the Hub Pub are a port-of-call for most travellers spending the night in Chiang Khong.
The Hub Museum: #172, Sai Klang Rd., T. Wiang, A. Chiang Khong, Chiang Rai 57140 | Open: 10:00-24:00 (Closed on Wednesday) | Tel: +66 53 717 433
Lue Lai Kham Museum
Lue Lai Kham is a private museum dedicated to showcasing the craft skills of ethnic Tai Lue people at creating fabric. The museum is a group of heritage Thai timber buildings and home to colourful, old hand-woven fabrics, clothes, household utensils and hardwood furniture. The museum is on Highway 1020 and 12kms from town.
Lue Lai Kham Museum: T. Sri Don Chai, A. Chiang Khong, Chiang Rai 57140 | Open: 09:00-17:00 (Daily) | Tel: +66 89 838 5724
Huai Sai Maan Viewpoint
This scenic viewpoint is 10kms north up Highway 1290 in the direction of Chiang Saen. The viewpoint is perched on a hill above a significant bend in the Mekong River and offers commanding across to the distant mountains of Northern Laos.
Catfish and Fresh Fish Museum
The Mekong River is noted for its giant catfish. The museum pays homage to this endangered species and to Chiang Khong’s place in history as the first place in the world at which they were bred in captivity. Fish aquariums and an unusual collection of 3D art are the key features at the facility.
Catfish and Fresh Fish Museum: A. Chiang Khong, Chiang Rai 57140 | Open: 08:00-17:00 (Daily) | Tel: +66 53 777 044
WHAT TO DO
Chiang Khong is not the best destination in Thailand to go to for adventure activities and options are fairly limited. The Hub Pub can arrange kayaking, fishing and hiking tours. Bicycle hire is available here too and allows travellers to explore the local countryside.
Mekong River Cruise
The departure point for Mekong cruises is Huay Xai in Laos. Laos Tours Smile provides a combined Chiang Khong hotel pick-up and slow boat package tour reservation service. More details about the Mekong cruises can be found on the What’s Up Travelling to Laos webpage.
Laos Tours Smile: #11/139, Khemkhong Rd., Huay Xai, Bokeo 05000 | Open: 08:00-17:00 (Daily) | Tel: +66 80 032 3371 (Thailand), +856 20 58 513 555 (Laos) | Website | Facebook | Email
Chiang Khong Street Market
Chiang Khong’s version of Thailand’s signature Walking Street market is held early on Saturday evenings. It starts at about 15:00 and finishes at 22:00. Stall holders sell cheap and tasty snacks like spring rolls, noodle dishes, Thai desserts and fruit juices. Dancers in traditional Thai dress and the occasional live music show give the market a festive air.
Catfish and Fresh Fish Museum: T. Wiang, A. Chiang Khong, Chiang Rai 57140 | Open: 09:00-22:00 (Saturday)
WHERE TO STAY
Fortune River View Hotel
The Fortune River View is an upmarket four-star hotel beside the Mekong River. Key facilities are a swimming pool, conference rooms, a riverside patio, and a restaurant serving buffet breakfasts, lunch and dinner. The choice of rooms is Superior and the more spacious Executive. These come with luxury furnishings, WiFi, air-conditioning and verandas…more info & booking
Funky Box Hostel
The Funky Box is a popular hostel and part of the Hub Pub and Restaurant. Guests have a choice of a bed in a 16-person dormitory or staying in one of the five private rooms onsite. Both options have shared bathrooms and WiFi. Dorm beds come with free lockers. The Funky Box is located on a side-road off Chiang Khong’s high street…more info & booking
Baan Fai Guesthouse
Baan Fai is a traditional guesthouse constructed from a mix of hardwood and bricks. It enjoys a location close to the Mekong riverside zone. A choice of dorm-beds and single, double or triple rooms caters to all travellers. Doubles are available as fan-cooled or air-conditioned and have patios and en suite bathrooms. Complimentary WiFi is included with all options. A café on the premises is a nice place to savour fresh coffee…more info & booking
Chiang Khong Teak Garden Riverfront Hotel
This hotel is a contemporary residence with a riverside location offering panoramic views across to Laos. Elegant rooms, riverside terraces, upmarket dining and an outdoor swimming pool are the principal guest amenities. The portfolio of accommodation here ranges between standard and family rooms to suites. Verandas, air-conditioning, WiFi, kettles and satellite TV are added bonuses which ensure the comfort of guests…more info & booking
WHERE TO EAT
Nang Nual Restaurant
Nang Nual Restaurant offers an amazing selection of traditional Thai curries, yam spicy salads and stir-fried dishes featuring fish, prawns, grilled meats and vegetables. The restaurant has a full bar and is a timber building perched on a cliff beside the Mekong at the south end of town.
Nang Nual Restaurant: #277, M. 7, T. Wiang, A. Chiang Khong, Chiang Rai 57140 | Open: 08:00-21:00 (Daily) | Tel: +66 53 791 271 | Facebook
The Vow is situated on the main street in Chiang Khong and is famed for the quality of its Thai and Western dishes, gourmet coffees and sweet treats. Menu options include various spaghetti favourites, fried rice, pad Thai noodles and tom yam spicy soups.
The Vow: #10/8, M. 8, T. Wiang, A. Chiang Khong, Chiang Rai 57140 | Open: 08:00-22:00 (Daily) | Tel: +66 88 600 0599 | Facebook
Bamboo Mexican House
A long-time favourite in the centre of Chiang Khong, the Bamboo Mexican House is a family operated establishment. It provides a decent choice of Mexican dishes, Indian curries, Thai dishes and sandwiches made with wholewheat bread. Freshly prepared fruit smoothies are the perfect accompaniment to a meal here.
Bamboo Mexican House: #1, M. 8, T. Wiang, A. Chiang Khong, Chiang Rai 57140 | Open: 07:30-20:30 (Daily) | Tel: +66 53 791 621 | Facebook
Cafe De Lao
Another popular dining venue in Chiang Khong, Cafe De Lao boasts a menu featuring Lao-style noodle soups, Vietnamese spring rolls, fruit teas, fresh coffee and tasty cakes. This café is on the main road in the middle of town.
Cafe De Lao: #540, M. 1, T. Wiang, A. Chiang Khong, Chiang Rai 57140 | Open: 09:00-17:30 (Daily) | Tel: +66 82 385 7800 | Facebook
Chiang Khong is 100kms from Chiang Rai and 300kms from Chiang Mai. There is no airport in Chiang Khong and it is not linked to Thailand’s rail network either which leaves road as the only means of getting here. The Thai-Laos Friendship Bridge 4 has replaced longtail-ferries as the only means for foreigners of crossing the Mekong to Huay Xai and northern Laos. The bridge is 10kms south of Chiang Khong as the crow flies, but nearly double that by road. The various travel options for getting to Chiang Khong are detailed below and these include information on direct Chiang Rai to Huay Xai bus services.
Bus from Chiang Rai
Buses for Chiang Khong depart from two different bays at Bus Station 1 in the centre of Chiang Rai. Departures are at least hourly between 06:00 and 17:00. The journey takes a little over two hours. Read more about Chiang Rai Transport
Chiang Rai Bus Station 1: Tel +66 53 740 467,
Bus from Chiang Mai
The Green Bus Company operates two air-conditioned bus services a day in each direction on the Chiang Mai to Chiang Khong route. All services depart in the morning and, in Chiang Mai, from the Arcade Bus Station 3. Travel time is 5 or 6 hours and depends on the class of bus. Read more about Chiang Mai Transport
Chiang Mai Bus Station 3: Tel +66 95 145 1756, | Green Bus: Tel +66 53 266 480, Website,
Chiang Rai to Huay Xai Bus
There are two air-conditioned two buses a day in each direction between Chiang Rai Bus Station 2 and Huay Xai. Departures are 10:00 and 16:30 from Chiang Rai and 09:00 and 16:00 from Huay Xai. Journey times including, immigration procedures for Thailand and Laos, are about three hours.
Chiang Rai Bus Station 2: Tel +66 53 773 550,
Rental cars are available in Chiang Rai and at Chiang Rai Airport. Reputable international companies such as Hertz and Budget plus Thai suppliers provide service. Hire firms in Chiang Rai, and elsewhere in Thailand, do not allow their vehicles to be taken out of the country. People travelling onwards to Laos should bear this in mind.
Taxi from Chiang Rai
Taxis are available at both Chiang Rai Airport and in town for trips to Chiang Khong. Fares are nowhere as cheap as for buses, but do add that extra convenience. Taxi Call Center Chiang Rai offers service.
Taxi Call Center Chiang Rai: #9, M. 11, T. Rob Wiang, A. Muang, Chiang Rai 57000 | Open: 12:00-00:00 (Daily) | Tel: +66 53 601 622, +66 53 715 237 | Website
Tuk-tuk is the main public transport option in Chiang Khong. Tuk-tuk drivers are usually waiting to pick up passengers when buses from Chiang Rai arrive. The central area of Chiang Khong is compact and most hotels are within walking range of the attractions and restaurants. Travellers wishing to go a little farther afield can rent bicycles or motorcycles from a few hire shops.