Ban Huay Kon / Muang Ngoen border open

We’ve heard, second hand, of a confirmed independent crossing at the Thailand/Laos border crossing at Ban Huay Kon / Muang Ngoen.

The border had been open for ages to Thais doing 4WD “adventure tours” up to Luang Prabang but we’d been told by the TAT that “there were no plans whatsoever for the crossing to be opened to foreigners at any time in the forseeable future“.

So we assume somebody changed their mind!

What this means is that after spending time exploring Nan, you can cross at Ban Huay Kon, head northeast to the village of Hong Sa and jump aboard a slow boat heading either south to Luang Prabang or north to Pak Beng and Huay Xai — what a terrific new way to enter Laos!

As I mentioned, we got this news second hand (a couple of European backpackers related their trip to a friend of ours while on the slow boat in early May, 2008), so it comes with no guarantees whatsoever and our agent on the boat forgot to ask then if visa-on-arrival was available… just can’t get good help these days!

Travel A-Z: Z is for Zythum

Zythum was some ancient Egyptian beer, and as we couldn’t think of anything that started with Z this seemed as good a choice as any. Beer in Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam is both reasonable in cost and in taste — and at the end of a long, hot day of hammock-laying few things are as refreshing as an ice cold Beer Lao. Continue reading

Travel A-Z: X is for X-rated travel

Budding sex-tourists should bear in mind that many of the sex-workers found in brothels and freelancing in bars in all the countries covered on Travelfish have been trafficked often under very dubious circumstances, from other countries. Working conditions are mostly appalling, with many sex-workers being under-age and/or working against their will. HIV and other STDs are particularly high in these countries. Always use protection. If you are going to take someone back to your hotel or guesthouse always verify the age of the other party involved and make sure they check in with reception — normally with an ID card of some type. This should be done for your protection as well as theirs.

Travel A-Z: U is for UV

Asia is a sunny place. Even in wet season it can be a sunny place. Even if you’re not planning on any time on the beach, chances are you’ll be spending some time under the sun. The sun over Asia is hot, and if you spend days standing around in it, you will get burnt. Carrying a backpack on very sunburnt shoulders can be very painful. The moral of the story is always pack sunscreen and a hat, and try to use them as much as possible. Continue reading

Travel A-Z: R is for Reservations

To reserve or not to reserve — that is the question. If you’ve never been to Asia before and are travelling alone, a reservation for at least the first night shouldn’t be too bad an idea. Also if you’re coming for a week-long resort vacation rather than a rambling three month adventure, then a reservation could again be a good idea. If however you’re planning the above-mentioned three month rambling adventure, reservations may well not be such a good idea, as if you change your itinerary, you may well need to reschedule accommodation reservations elsewhere, and these changes may often incur

fees and or availability problems.
Continue reading