CHIANG RAI– The Transport Co Ltd, under the Ministry of Transport, introduced its 11th bus route, late last week, linking Thailand and Laos via the Fourth Mekong Friendship Bridge in Chiang Rai province.
Transport Minister, Chadchart Sittipunt, said the new bus service was approved recently by Thailand’s Ministry of Transport and the Lao PDR Department of Public Works and Transport.
“The new Chiang Rai-Chaing Khong-Bokeo bus route crosses the 4th Mekong Bridge connecting Chiang Rai and Huay Xai in Bokeo province in Laos making it more convenient to travel between the two provinces.”
The minister added: “The service is also in line with the ASEAN Economic Community policy to build cooperation between Thailand and neighbouring coutries as well as other countries in the region.”
The Transport Company Limited president, Wuthichart Kalyanamitra, said the 11th bus route Chiang Rai-Chaing Khong-Bokeo uses second-class air-conditioned buses with 46 seats offering four to eight trips daily. The two countries operate three buses each on the route.
The one-way fare from Chaing Rai to Bokeo is Bt220 (55,000 Kip) and from Chiang Khong to Bokeo Bt30 (7,500 Kip).
The bus route ends at the Bokeo bus station. It covers a distance of 166 km and take four hours to complete the trip between Chiang Rai and Bokeo. The service starts at Chiang Rai’s second terminal which is on the main highway 1 about 5 km from the town centre.
There is also a bus transfer across the bridge at least four times daily with a fare of Bt20 per person (5,000 Kip). Travel across the bridge is limited to motorised traffic. Cycles are not allowed, They have to be transported across the bridge on the bus which is very inconvenient for tourists who use the route to cycle to Luang Prabang.
None of the Friendship bridges allow cycles despite them being a very environmentally way to travel and popular with tourists who want to tour the Mekong Region at a leisurely pace. Motor cycles are allowed and cycle enthusiasts will argue that should have opened the way for cycles.
The Fourth Mekong Friendship Bridge connecting Chiang Khong in Chiang Rai province, Thailand and Huay Xai in Bokeo province, Laos opened on 11 December. – By Wanwisa Ngamsangchaikit