Crossing the border to Laos

Finally we crossed the border between Thailand and Laos. It was just a while walking, 2 hours and a half hours and 2 shared local songthaews (kindda pick-ups prepared for transporting people). On the first ride we went from Ubon Ratchathani to Phibun for 35 baths/person; and from there to Chong Mek, a small market town on the border, for 40 baths.

After a quick view to the market, we crossed the Thai border without any waiting time and we got inside Laos after paying an extra 50 baths fee. I had read there were not way to avoid it, even after getting our VISA in advance in Bangkok, so I didn’t got too pissed off about that.

Once in Laos we just start to refuse all offers and hassling from the van drivers, until we arrived to a further songthaews parking. There we got one ride to Pakse for 50 baths. So, in the end, our trip took us 4 hours and 3 songthaews.

In earlier bargains we got van offers of 80 baths/person, so if you search for more confort without spending a fortune you can get it. Anyways, in those cases, would be better to get the direct bus form Ubon to Pakse for 200 baths.

1 euro is 41,2 Thai baths, so we spent 125 baths on transport that day, around 3 euros.

In an ATM I got 2 million Lao kips. I became millionaire!
In an ATM I got 2 million Lao kips. I became millionaire!

In most of the first ATMs I found in Pakse I could use my Mastercard, neither any VISA. There were letters offering you to go to the bank and exchange inside, but the fee was a 3%, so I refused the suggestion kindly. Finally I got one ATM which charged 40.000 kips for every withdraw, being the maximum amount 2 million kips; that was a little bit better, 2% fee.

Here we had a new exchange rate. 1 euro are, nowadays, 10.400 kips, so 2 million kips are less than 200 euros.

After checking several times that my maths were fine -so many zeros scare a bit-, I decided to become millionaire! So I put in my pockets 2 million kip in “small” bills, cause the bigger bill the ATM gave was 50.000 kips. Laos is a country with a really devaluated coin; so devaluated, in fact, that there is no coins, just bills. Shops, drivers, guesthouses and restaurants accept Thai baths in all the country with a fare exchange rate. It’s able to pay with dollars or euros too, but the rate is much worse usually.

One of the first Lao typical temple we found
One of the first Lao typical temple we found

After getting dropped in the 2 Km market of Pakse we went walking all the way the 13 Road asking prices on hotels and guesthouses. In the end we stayed in one called Lankham: being the best accommodation we had in our Asia trip until that moment. Wifi, hot shower, electricity, fan, big and comfy bed, clean and 2 free water bottles every day.

It was a little bit more expensive than what we are used to: 60.000 kips; but the cheapest option was 50.000 kips in a dark and shitty room, so the extra expense deserved this time.