trips

From $3,717

Mekong River Cruise – Laos Revealed

Mekong River Cruise – Vientiane to Chiang Rai

Savor the magnificent scenery of the Mekong River on this unique cruise from the Laotian capital of Vientiane to theGolden Triangle in Thailand.  Travel along formerly inaccessible stretches of Southeast Asia’s most exciting river. Discover Vientiane and the UNESCO World Heritage town of Luang Prabang, stroll through colourful markets, and experience firsthand the Laotian people’s traditional way of life. Relax aboard your exclusive river vessel and enjoy the unspoiled nature along the mighty upper Mekong. The upper Mekong is one of the most difficult rivers in the world to navigate, with fluctuating water levels. Your comfortable cruise vessel masters tight gorges, negotiates labyrinths of sandbanks, and clears churning rapids. Along this part of the Mekong, tranquil stretches of the river combine with striking shore scenery of lush green mountains, impressive rock formations, and secluded villages. The upper Mekong is considered one of the world’s most spectacular rivers navigable by a cruise vessel.

Your Route:  Vientiane – Paklay – Tha Deua – Kuang Si – Luang Prabang – Pak Ou – Pakbeng – Pak Tha – Huay Xay – Golden Triangle

Trip Highlights

  • The wild upper Mekong aboard a boutique river vessel –one of the most spectacular river cruises in the world
  • The UNESCO World Heritage town of Luang Prabang, a superb fusion of numerous temples, monasteries, and French colonial architecture. One of Asia’s most beautiful historical towns
  • First-hand experience of the Thai and Lao peoples’ traditional lifestyles
  • Small groups limited to 30 fellow passengers
  • Pha That Luang Buddhist Temple in Vientiane – the Laotian national landmark
  • The Pak Ou Caves on the Mekong – containing thousands of Buddha statues
  • The waterfalls at Kuang Si, inviting you to swim in their lovely natural pools
  • The Golden Triangle region, with its infamous past, where Thailand, Myanmar, and Laos meet
  • Sunset over Luang Prabang
  • Unforgettable impressions of the mighty Mekong River, the “mother of waters”
  • Professional onboard infotainment, including lectures and documentaries on the region
  • All overnights are spent aboard your boutique cruise ship.

 

Itinerary

DAY 1: Vientiane – Embarkation

In Vientiane we meet you at the airport or pick you up in your hotel in town around 2pm. After a short sightseeing program to highlights of the Lao capital such as the Pha That Luang temple and the Wat Sisaket Monastery, you board the Mekong Sun, a comfortable new cruise vessel. This unique vessel is German-Laotian owned and outfitted with stylish cabins. Settle into your accommodations and unpack for a twelve-day cruise. Enjoy the spacious decks or onboard lounge, and join this evening’s welcome reception and dinner. A selection of Asian and European food will be provided throughout the cruise.

Meals: Dinner

 

DAYS 2 and 3: Natural Beauty Along The Mighty Mekong

This morning you start your spectacular river cruise upstream to formerly inaccessible parts of the Mekong. Enjoy the comfort onboard the boat, with its fine service and exclusive, yet casual setting, which you share with a limited number of fellow guests. During the next days you will take exciting excursions, both on water and on land, and enjoy an onboard programme of presentations, talks, and film documentaries on relevant topics, such as the French Mekong Expedition of the 1860s, the daily life of a Buddhist novice monk, or the flora and fauna of the Mekong region. A visit to a small riverside community acquaints you with the life of the local Lao people. At night you anchor at a secluded sand or river bank.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

 

DAY 4: Pak Lay

Your specially designed river vessel allows you to go on this remarkable voyage quite comfortably, something that previously was unthinkable. You travel some 800 km through delightful riverscapes, passing aboriginal villages and visiting World Heritage Sites. You discover some of Southeast Asia’s last unknown regions. Upstream you stop at the small riverside community of Pak Lai, where the local market with its many exotic offerings is quite a sight. Back aboard, you take in the passing river scenery from the safety and comfort of your exclusive river vessel. You spend the night aboard the vessel close to the Thai-Laotian border.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

 

DAY 5: Tha Deua

During and after breakfast on board, you enjoy the view and will perhaps see local fishermen along the shore while continuing along the “mother of all waters”, as the locals call the Mekong River. You meet the residents of a small riverside village, which guests on Mekong cruises have often chosen to sponsor. Today you also pass the much-discussed Sayaboury hydropower dam project. An afternoon presentation about the Mekong River and its future by your cruise director supplies background information on this huge construction site and the differing opinions about it held by the countries along the river, the Mekong River Commission, and the local residents. You also see the Mekong ferry crossing at Tha Deua, connecting the provinces of Luang Prabang and Sayaboury.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

 

DAY 6: Kuang Si Falls – Luang Prabang

Another shore excursion takes you to the Kuang Si Falls, one of the most scenic waterfalls in Laos. This afternoon you reach Luang Prabang, the former royal capital of Laos, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The town’s unique atmosphere stems from its unusual mixture of numerous temples and French colonial architecture. Begin with a walk up Phou Si Hill, which offers a spectacular sunset view over the Mekong and Khan rivers and the surrounding mountains. In the evening, enjoy strolling along the Mekong promenade or visiting the colourful night market of the local Hmong minority. Watch a traditional Bazi Ceremony and local dances during and after dinner.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

 

DAY 7: The UNESCO-World Heritage Town of Luang Prabang

Breakfast is served on board. Today the ship remains in Luang Prabang, where we take you on a full day of sightseeing, so you can truly experience the beauty of this UNESCO World Heritage town with its wonderful mix of architectural styles. Luang Prabang offers many opportunities for fine dining, so tonight you are free to choose from the numerous offerings in town or along the Mekong River.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

 

DAY 8: Luang Prabang – Pak Ou Caves

In the early morning, you are able to observe the traditional giving of alms in the streets of Luang Prabang. Breakfast is served on board. Today you cruise further north and visit a Laotian village, where you see the traditional production of Lao-Lao, the local liqueur. After a short walk through the jungle (optional) you explore the famous Pak Ou Caves, with thousands of small Buddha statues inside the caverns. The night is spent anchored at a beautiful sandbank, surrounded by nothing but pure nature.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

 

DAY 9: Pakbeng

The river traffic thins out as you proceed upstream, looking out over the river and its scenic beauty. With a little luck you will be able to see working elephants in action today (unless they are employed elsewhere at the time of your visit). Later in the day, you pause briefly for a look at the market town of Pakbeng.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

 

DAY 10: Pak Tha

Today is a day to just bask in this unique environment – relax on deck, in your comfortable cabin, or in the lounge as you absorb the grandeur of this mighty river and its unspoiled natural surroundings. The landscape now shifts to lush tropical hills. Enjoy the tranquillity of northern Laos, a real retreat from the hustle and bustle of daily life back home. Cruising upsteam past this verdant backdrop, your boat now turns north, heading towards Pak Tha. You spend a last relaxing dinner and evening aboard, celebrating with a farewell dinner.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

 

DAY 11: Pak Tha – Chiang Rai – farewell

At the small village of Pak Tha you go on a long-tail boat excursion along the Namtha River to visit a local Khmu village. The small village school enjoys frequent sponsorship by Mekong cruise guests. After reboarding your cruise vessel, you continue towards the Thai-Laotian border at Chiang Khong (Thailand) and Ban Huay Xay (Laos). The unspoiled landscape is accented by the occasional sight of small villages and local herds of cattle. In the afternoon you say goodbye to your Laotian crew, check out, and transfer across the Thai-Lao Mekong friendship bridge, where you also pass immigration. You are then transferred to your Chiang Rai hotel (within city limits) or to the airport, where frequent flights to Bangkok are available (no flights departing before 20:00pm can be reached).

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

NOTE: Every river cruise on the upper Mekong is a pioneering experience and is subject to constantly changing river conditions, including floodwaters, low water levels, and morning fog. Therefore, please understand that we must reserve the right to alter the itinerary of this tour because of the logistical complexities involved. Small deviations in the tour program are sometimes necessary, depending on weather and river conditions. For safety reasons arising from the existing navigating conditions, these programs may be amended without previous notice.

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map


Inclusions/Exclusions


Includes:

  • 10 overnights in selected cabin type aboard your boutique river cruise ship
  • Local English speaking guides
  • Entrance fees for sightseeing mentioned in the itinerary
  • Excursions as mentioned in the itinerary
  • Tours and transfers as mentioned, by air-conditioned vehicles
  • Drinking water in the vehicles and on the ship
  • Meals as indicated in the itinerary
  • Coffee, tea, and table water during meal times onboard your boutique river cruise ship
  • On-board presentations and lectures by the cruise director
  • Transfers from/to Chiang Rai and Vientiane airports or hotels within city limits (only guaranteed if information was correctly provided 4 weeks prior to embarkation, at the latest)

Excludes:

  • Flights
  • Meals and services other than those noted in the itinerary
  • Visas for Thailand and Laos*
  • Laundry, telephone calls, and personal expenditures
  • Gratuities for guides, drivers, porters, boat crew, and personal, non-itinerary services
  • Alcoholic and soft drinks other than mentioned
  • Personal Insurance

Important Remarks


Minimum number to operate a cruise is 10 passengers, max. 28. (see Terms and Conditions)

Note:   This journey can also be made southbound from Golden Triangle to Vientiane.  Please contact your Hidden World Travel Expert for more information.

* VISAS:  Depending on your nationality, you will need visas for the following countries (passport must be valid for at least 6 months after your departure date from Southeast Asia):
– Laos: Visas can be obtained on arrival for entry in Huay Xay (downstream cruises) or Vientiane (upstream cruises). Each visa purchased on arrival, valid 30 days: $30-$42  in cash, depending on nationality along with one passport sized photo). Subject to change without prior notice. ATTENTION: Visas on arrival cost $1/person extra on Saturday and Sunday
– Thailand: most nationalities do not need a visa to enter Thailand.

PLEASE CHECK WITH YOUR LOCAL EMBASSY

Departure Dates and Prices

2016 Departure Dates2016 Return DatesFrom - ToClassic Cabin-Per Person Double OccupancySuperior Cabin - Per Person Double Occupancy
June 27, 2016July 7, 2016Vientianen-Chiang Rai $3,750$4,350
October 18, 2016October 28, 2016Chiang Rai-Vientiane$5,850$6,900
November 8, 2016November 18, 2016Chiang Rai-Vientiane$6,120$7,180
November 19, 2016November 29, 2016Vientianen-Chiang Rai $6,120$7,180
November 29, 2016December 9, 2016Chiang Rai-Vientiane$6,120$7,180
December 10, 2016December 20, 2016Vientianen-Chiang Rai $5,850$6,900
Classic Cabin Single Supplement: $1,390Superior Cabin Single Supplement: $2,100

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