Do you want to discover Asia in an unforgettable way? Take the two-day Luang Say Cruise along the mighty Mekong River, which forms the natural border between Thailand and Laos. During the cruise, you will sail along jungle mountains, rugged forests, remote landscapes, charming small villages and enjoy the most beautiful views that change every second. You will enter villages along the river, experience the daily life of the local people and visit some hidden gems. With the Luang Say Cruise, which is the most luxury and relaxed option, you will spend one night in a beautiful lodge surrounded by nature and the greatest views.
If you like to treat yourself to something exceptional and unique, this cruise is a must do!
Cruise options and routes
There are several ways to cruise along the Mekong River from Thailand to Laos or vice versa. There is a public slow boat, which is the cheapest option. (cost around $30 per person one way). Another option is by speedboat, which we not recommend! You’ll not have the time to experience all the beauty and it’s told to be dangerous too. (cost around $40 per person one way) And then you’ll have the private slow boats of Mekong Cruises. This is the most luxurious, relaxed and unique way to cruise along the Mekong. The boats have a capacity for 40 people seated in comfortable chairs and there is an English-speaking guide that will point out the many interesting spots along the way.
Mekong Cruises are offering cruises downstream and upstream and several cruise lengths. We took the two-day cruise from Luang Prabang in Laos to Huay Xai, near the border with Northern Thailand with one night in Pakbeng. (accommodation included)
Note: taking the cruise in the opposite direction is also possible, depending on your travel route and what you like the most.
Day 1: from Luang Prabang (Laos) to Pakbeng (Laos)
In the morning you will be picked up at your hotel in Luang Prabang for a short transfer to the pier where you will embark the Luang Say Boat that will take you to Huay Xai in Thailand in two days. Departure time is around 7 AM and breakfast is served on board as soon you’ll leave the pier. After a couple of hours cruising up the Mekong River and having amazing views of the misty Mekong River, you’ll stop to visit Pak Ou caves where thousands of Buddha images are housed. When you get back on board a delicious buffet lunch will be served.
For the second stop, you’ll be visiting a traditional village where you will meet the warmest and beautiful people. Unforgettable! Between the stops, you’ll have plenty of free time to enjoy the landscapes of the mighty Mekong River and observe the daily life routine of the villages along the way.
Just before sunset, you will arrive in Pakbeng, where you will have dinner on the terrace of the Luang Say Lodge overlooking the river and enjoy a traditional Laotian dance. You will not spend the night on board, but in a beautiful wooden bungalow with stunning views over the Mekong.
Day 2: from Pakbeng to Huay Xai
Rise and shine! After breakfast, which is served on the terrace of the lodge, you will continue the final route to Huay Xai. Along the way, you will visit another traditional village to observe rural life. A buffet lunch is served on board as soon as you finished the visit. The cruise arrives in Huay Xai around 5.30 PM. Just opposite Huay Xai, you’ll have Chiang Khong in Thailand where you can stop for an overnight, but you can also continue your journey to Chiang Rai on the same day. (like we did)
Best time to cruise along the Mekong River, schedule + route map
The best time cruising on the Mekong is between November and February. The river is still high enough to pass, and you’ll avoid the extremely humid weather that Laos is known for.
The cruises of Mekong Cruises are departing every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Saturday up river to Huay Xai and every Monday, Thursday and Friday down river to Luang Prabang from 1 October – 31 March.
Note: there are no cruises in June.
Some extra useful tips
- From October to February the temperatures on the river can be cool in the morning, so always bring a jacket or sweater with you
- Bring a small daypack with clothes for one day, so you can leave your suitcase and luggage on the boat when you stay the night in Pakbeng
- When you arrive in Huay Xai, you’ll need to pay the bus to Chiang Kong by yourself (10.000 Kip per person)
- Alcoholic drinks, visa costs, and tips are not including in the cruises of Mekong Cruises