We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Beware in Huay Xia!

B.C. Canada
Level Contributor
1 post
9 reviews
Save Topic
Beware in Huay Xia!

We just got home from doing the trip from Chiang Khong to Huay Xia, to Pek Bang and on to Luang Prabang by slow boat. As we wanted convenience we payed some one to have our Thai exit visa stamped the night before so that we could just hustle across the border to Huay Xia. That part was fine. As there was a group of us travelling from the same guest house we were trying to stay together somewhat. In Huay Xia a fellow with a tourist guide authorization laminated tag hung around his neck hustled us through the aweful line ups as we already had our visa. To make a long story short as possible, he managed to get small groups of the people we went over with from the guest house together but separately and give us all things to be aware of.(Total brainwashing) At some point after talking to a few people at a time he rallied us at a place/travel office selling food etc. on the top rightside of the road at the last intersection as you head down the hill to the slow boat bound for Pek Bang. This fellow did a great job of ripping off a number of people. My friends gave him $200 US dollars as well as booked a room in Pek Beng at a guest house. They were ripped off $75 from the money exchange as were others that decided to exchange baht to kip. I heard from another traveller in Luang Prabang that the same thing had happened to them on their previous trip. I hate to think of how much money he made that day with his accomplices, from the number of passports that were handed back quickly. We were then asked to leave as the boat was ready to depart. I have a picture of the man I wish I could post it! I was lucky that I did not exchange much money so lost very little. However booking the room ahead I did end up paying more as well but accomodation was very nice and it was nice not to have to start looking for something after we arrived. My friends infortunately got ripped off big time not only with the money but with the room as well. It left a very sour note as Laos and its people are lovely! We had a super time in Luang Prabang.....but anyone travelling into Huay Xia.....BEWARE of rip off artists!

The Gibbon Experience
Nature & Wildlife Areas
New Challenge Discovery
Kayaking & Canoeing, Hiking & Camping Tours
Wat chomkao manilat
Points of Interest & Landmarks
Vientiane
Level Contributor
6,267 posts
86 reviews
Save Reply
31. Re: Beware in Huay Xia!

Sorry that should read I would certainly book the Chompoo or any cruise in advance.

lewes uk
Level Contributor
9,759 posts
196 reviews
Save Reply
32. Re: Beware in Huay Xia!

#30,31,

According to their printed literature and website, the name is Shompoo not Chompoo, just in case it causes any confusion.

cheers

Vientiane
Level Contributor
6,267 posts
86 reviews
Save Reply
33. Re: Beware in Huay Xia!

It is spelled both Chompoo and Shompoo on these. Chompoo means "rose apple". I would assume it is the same company.

http://www.luang-prabang-hotels.com

/VIP_Slowboat_Luang_Prabang_To_Huay_Xai

luangprabangtour.net/tag/chompoo-cruise/

Edited: 02 April 2012, 11:55
lewes uk
Level Contributor
9,759 posts
196 reviews
Save Reply
34. Re: Beware in Huay Xia!

Hi,

I'm only going by their office signage, printed literature and website address.

Perhaps they have two names.

Cheers

Dublin
Level Contributor
7 posts
118 reviews
Save Reply
35. Re: Beware in Huay Xia!

Thanks for sharing...same thing happened when we were in Huay Xai back in Feb (scammed changing Baht to Kip). We counted our money before leaving and demanded he repay us but at least 10 other people got scammed the same way ie they were rushed onto the boat before they had a chance to think clearly and count their money. I'm also going to write a detailed account of what happened and try to add a photo of the "agency's" sign (which we took before we left Huay Xai). Heres hoping people read about it in time to avoid the scam in the future.

malaysia
Level Contributor
159 posts
36 reviews
Save Reply
36. Re: Beware in Huay Xia!

Hi Orlaine,

Sorry for those who had been ripped off. To avoid this type of scam, what should we do ?

1. do not change money at Huay Xai, instead go to the bank at Luang Prabang after arrival?

2. do not book Pak Beng hotel room from people in Huay Xai, instead go to the hotel directly afer arrival in Pak Beng?

Vientiane, Laos
Destination Expert
for Vientiane
Level Contributor
3,208 posts
275 reviews
Save Reply
37. Re: Beware in Huay Xia!

Shoh47 is right -

There are at least 15 guesthouses in Pakbeng and they are rarely full, starting from about $8/night. I've been to Pakbeng over 10 times in the last few years and have never booked a guesthouse. You really don't need to seek assistance from touts or agents on the Thai side or in Houayxai.

Remember people have been doing the boat trip to LP almost daily for 2 decades now - there are plenty of accomodation and food options at Pakbeng waiting for you, without the need for any "agent"..

You can change money in Houayxai at the bank, a moneychanger, or at the gold&silver shop on the main street 100m from the boat dock (same rate as the bank).

Luang Prabang, Laos
Level Contributor
1,353 posts
1 review
Save Reply
38. Re: Beware in Huay Xia!

Also agree with shoh47 and bluecramp's advice regarding waiting until you get to Pak Beng to find accommodations. Travelers have been complaining about getting ripped off with overpriced rooms via advanced booking at Huay Xai and periodically via Thai travel agencies in Chiang Mai for years so don't 'buy' the 'no place to stay' claims.

As to exchanging money, ALWAYS double count your exchanged kip (or any currency) immediately afterwards.

malaysia
Level Contributor
159 posts
36 reviews
Save Reply
39. Re: Beware in Huay Xia!

Good advice. Thanks.

Almere, The...
Level Contributor
3 posts
58 reviews
Save Reply
40. Re: Beware in Huay Xia!

Yes, you have to beware in Huay Xia!

I booked in my hotel In Chiang Mai a 2-day Mekong Trip by slow boat to Luang Prabang. At my request the hotel-agent phoned the tour-operator's agency Terminal Green (no hits on google!) to make sure I could have a room for myself in Chiang Khong and Pak Beng in Laos. This was confirmed and I had to pay 300 baht extra. When the next day the mini-van came to pick me up at the hotel the hotel-agent found it somewhat strange the bus had only a driver and not a guide, so asked if everything was arranged and also to make sure that I really had my own rooms in Chiang Khong and Pak Beng. That was again confirmed. We left and started to pick up the other participants for the trip. There were people from Holland and Britain. The trip was also supposed to go to Wat Rong Khun, which I had visited before. The driver would stop somewhere, announce something like: '10 minutes!' and leave. Nobody new what was going on. At Wat Rong Khun he stopped around the corner, said: '20 minutes!' and was gone. We couldn't see the Wat, so everybody walked around a bit, had a coffee or something to eat and then came back to the van. After being on the road again we saw that we were around the corner from Rong Khun, something nobody knew and some people were really pissed off about. In the evening we arrived in Chiang Khong were our driver of Terminal Green (also painted on the van) left us after some secretive talking to the owner of a hotel with two names: Pak Ban Phoen Hotel and Banpuan Hotel. All the guys in the van were very silent, because somehow this strange hotel had a weird air around it. The owner tried to get more than one people in one room, but most people had paid for a room alone. This caused some trouble. The owner didn't have a working key for every room, so he had to break open some doors and put another padlock on them later. The rooms were disgustingly dirty and some girls asked to change rooms twice because of this. The whole place was a stinking mess with dirty beds, sheets, stinking towels and uncountable stains on the walls. Everybody sat together later in the dining-room later, while the owner started to drink large glasses of whisky and put on loud karaoke-music to which nobody listened. Next morning the owner announced that everybody had to change money with him for the visa to get into Laos. We needed 35 dollars cash and we needed 1300 baht for that, 100 baht more than everybody thought. He also announced that in Huay Xia his brother in law would take care of us further. We crossed the Mekong into Laos with a ticket he gave us and were welcomed by a small Laotian who worked for the brother in law. We had to pay one more dollar to the border-officials in order to get our visa. It was not 35 dollar anymore, but 36 dollars. After that we walked through customs to the end of the street, went to the right and may be 150 metres further we came together in a shop/office on the left-hand side of the street. There the brother in law gave us a severe speech about how bad it all was going to be in Pak Beng. There would be no ATM, no shops, almost no hotels. So people had to change money with him, buy goods and food in his shop and reserve a hotel through his office. He saw immediately that I had a hotel-ticket (without the name of a hotel) and one British girl who had made reservations in Bangkok too. He put our passports apart and promised to arrange the hotelreservation further later. After that he disappeared and never came back until we saw him on the pier. The girl and me tried to get the hotel-ticket in his absence, but in the office they started to shout at us and we could make a phonecall to Terminal Green with their phone for 50.000 kip, which we didn't do. I already knew then there would be no hotel for us. On the pier the brother in law gave us a big mouth and we had to run to be on the slowboat as it was already leaving. When we arrived in Pak Beng there were several extremely friendly and helpful Laotians that had hotelrooms for around 400 baht. These rooms were of very good quality, with showers, good bed, breakfast included and were very clean. At the end of the street there was a working ATM, the street was paved and full of shops with friendly and smiling Laotians and everybody was willing to accept dollars, bahts or kips. No problems at all.

I wonder why these people in Chiang Khong and Huay Xia can go on with these scams for so long. I read here that they have been doing this for a long time and as you can read they still do this. They ripped us off only for little money, so I had to smile about it, but it is the principle that counts. After the trip, I went back to Chiang Mai were I reported this to my hotel-agent. I know that they made phonecalls about it and were not amused. Instead of complaining I will give these tips:

1. Do make this Mekong-trip. It is absolutely fantastic.

2. Have faith in these friendly people in Pak Beng. Yes, it is in the middle of the jungle, but they do have many very good hotels for a very reasonable price and also many shops and an ATM.

3. Don't book too much in advance. All these agents and middle-men make it too complicated. Go too Chiang Khong and book there (in advance) one of the good hotels they have there and DON'T go to that filthy shitplace we slept in. They have fine hotels with a view on the Mekong. Get your 36 dollars at a Thai bank before. Make sure you have the tickets for the ride on the slowboat to Luang Prabang and get a hotel when you arrive in Pak Beng. The people in Pak Beng are hardworking, sweet people with very nice and funny children so don't waste their money on between-agents that pocket your money. And last but not least: Make sure you have nothing to do with an agency called Terminal Green!