Like most websites, Insight Guides uses cookies. Ours are completely safe and are just used to improve the site. To continue to use this site is to agree to our use of cookies. More Info

Title

Bite Studio - Visual Editor

Cruising the Mekong

Travelling by boat along the mighty Mekong as it winds its way through the green mountains of northern Laos is a true Asian adventure. 

Not so long ago the 7,400km (4,600 miles) of navigable waterways in Laos constituted the country’s only transport network. Today, they remain, by and large, a great way to get around the country, although services grind to a halt on some of the shallower stretches of water during the latter stages of the dry season (February-April). 

The main long-distance river trip for tourists runs from Huay Xai in the northwest down to Luang Prabang. The 20-person passenger ferries on this route are called heua saa (slow boats) by the Lao, and they live up to their name. Huay Xai to Luang Prabang requires spending one night en route at Pakbeng, arriving at Luang Prabang in the afternoon on the second day. The boats leave in the early mornings from a terminal just north of the Lao immigration checkpoint in Huay Xai. Prices for the ferries are low. Be sure to bring your own food, water, sunglasses and hat or umbrella.

For a luxury alternative , the vessel Luang Say travels from Huay Xai to Luang Prabang with an overnight stop at an attractive lodge near Pakbeng. The boat carries 40 passengers in comfort, and makes stops at points of interest along the way. The price includes all meals, guides and accommodation.

Unless you really are in a hurry, speedboats are best avoided, being both environmentally damaging and rather dangerous.

These days, the route from Vientiane to Pakse in the south is mainly used for cargo traffic, but smaller passenger ferries from Pakse to Champasak and Don Khong still run. The luxury Vat Phou, a steel-hulled vessel with 10 staterooms, makes a four-day round-trip cruise from Pakse to the Si Phan Don area, visiting the famous Khmer temple site of Wat Phou as well.

Throughout the country, river taxis are available for short trips to sites such as temples and caves that are inaccessible by road. The beautiful Nam Ou River, which flows into the Mekong near Luang Prabang, is navigable most of the year as far north as Hat Sa near Phongsali and is considered one of the best river cruises in Laos. This will mostly involve private charters: enquire in Luang Prabang.

 

 

 

Read more about Laos

Read more about the cultural features of Laos in Insight Guides: Southeast Asia

Insight Guides: Southeast Asia

Southeast Asia is a firm favourite on the long-haul travel trail, thanks to its unrivalled range of amazing experiences and unforgettable sights - from the northern hills of Thailand to the dragons of...

Read full description
View all products
Craghoppers ad

Take a guide with you

Latest conditions

Local time in Vientiane

Sat, Apr 19, 2014 16:28 ICT
From timeanddate.com

Climate

From the Insight travel blog

Where to go in June, July, August

22 Jan 2012

Changing of the guards, Windsor Castle, Great Britain by Corrie Wingate, Copyright: Apa Publications Here’s our pick of where to go in June, July and August. It’s summer in the northern hemisphere, which makes E...

The best street food in Istanbul

17 Apr 2014

Street food in Istanbul, Copyright: Apa Publications Although it’s customary for Turks to venerate their mother’s cooking, there is none­the­less a mouth-w...

10 tasty chocolate museums around the world

16 Apr 2014

Chocolates on sale in Bruges, Copyright: Apa Publications With Easter round the corner, we take a look at some of the best chocolate museums to visit around the world. Cadbury...

Exploring Karaköy: Istanbul's coolest neighbourhood

12 Apr 2014

Drinking coffee at Karabatan, Karakoy, Copyright: Apa Publications Ltd Istanbul writer, Pat Yale, takes us on a tour through Istanbul's coolest neighbourhood.Time was when Istanbul was a sedate...
PageId: 24986 UserId: 5