Stunning Laos with expansive views from mountain trails, gorgeous valley scenery and UNESCO World Heritage sites should not be missed. Travelers often ask, how should we get there? If you are in Northern Thailand, then you are not far from the Laos - Thailand border. Just cross the legendary Mekong River and take a 3 Day / 2 Night cruise on a riverboat journey through Northern Laos. Operating on a Join-In basis, this is a cruising journey through mountainous stretches of the Mekong River between Houei Sai and Luang Prabang, aboard the Luang Say Boat, a purpose-built 34 meter river barge.
On day one, the cruise stops at Luang Say Lodge to offer guests a charming and serene riverside stay; the perfect romantic interlude in this unspoiled wilderness setting. Luang Say Lodge, on the banks of the Mekong River is set amidst lush green hills, the Lodge gives a feeling of discovered untouched nature. Constructed in a traditional style of Lao architecture in solid wood, each guest room has a bathroom with a hot shower, electric fan and mosquito netting. The well prepared local dishes are served in the main dining room overlooking the river. The bar corner offers a wide choice of drinks. On days when house guests exceed more than 20 people, local villagers may perform a hill tribe dance.
On day two, the journey continues further downstream to the unique Kamu Lodge. At Kamu Lodge, you will find 20 free-standing lodges or thick-walled tents with sturdy thatch roof's guards against the elements. Kamu Lodge has a rustic look and feel, but Kamu's mattresses guarantee you a good night's sleep. Solar panels fixed to the roofs gather just enough power to keep your fan turning all night. Every lodge features a white-washed stone annex, a traditional bath and yes, hot water flows from Kamu's shower heads. A charming thatch-covered veranda and with comfortable chairs encourage relaxation and passive enjoyment of a timeless view over the slow-moving Mekong River.
Luang Say Lodge & Downstream Cruise departs from Slow Boat pier in Houei Sai, Laos at 9a.m. Please be at Luang Say office in Houei Sai (next to Laos immigration) by 8:15 am.
You should consider arriving at the Thai/Laos border the night before and get a hotel room in the small town of Chiang Khong in Thailand. Here the Laos border is just a few minutes away. You can hire a helper from your hotel or take a taxi to the "Fourth Thai - Lao Friendship Bridge" on outskirts of Chiang Khong. This is a 600 meter bridge where you cross the Mekong River into Laos. When you arrive at the Laos border, you arrange your entry visa on arrival. The cost is about $35 USD. Check in at the Mekong Cruise office which is right beside the Laos Immigration Office.
Transferring to Chiang Khong on the Thai / Laos border from Chiang Rai is about a 90 minute drive by SUV or private transfer or taxi.The cost is about $65. By bus its about 2 hours and less money of course. Its easy to arrange for tickets by bus or by private transfer.
From Chiang Mai to Chiang Khong, its about 4.5 hour trip by private transfer, SUV or taxi. The distance is 330 kilomters. The cost for private transfer is about $150. By bus it takes about 6.5 hours to get to Chiang Khong from Chiang Mai. Again, the cost is very low.
Bus transfers can be purchased with 24 to 48 hours notice from either Chiang Rai or Chiang Mai to Chiang Khong. Private transfers should be booked in advance to be safe. A minimum of 2 weeks notice during peak season is advisalble. That said, you will not have difficulty booking a last minute private transfer but the price will probably increase if you seek the help of your hotel or local agent.
In Luang Prabang, you may consider spending two or three nights in a hotel and explore the city. If you wish to indulge yourself in luxury, consider booking a room at the 5 star luxury Luang Say Residence Hotel in French colonial style. It's the first hotel in Laos to join ‘Small Luxury Hotels of the World (SLH)’ brand located. Room rates range from $250 to $450 USD depending on the room and on the season. Luang Prabang International Airport has direct flights to Bangkok, Siem Reap, Hanoi, Vientiane. At the conclusion of the tour or after your stay in Luang Prabang, you will most likely fly out to your next destination.
Upon arriving at Luang Say Lodge, you may choose to leave your suitcase and luggage on the boat and take only a small daypack with a change of clothes to Luang Say Lodge. The steps to Luang Say Lodge are quite steep, comfortable walking shoes are recommended. Please bring a jersey/a jacket as it can get cool at the Lodge and on the boat from Oct to Feb. Please fully charge your electronic equipment as there is no plug available at Kamu Lodge.
The fee for children aged 2 to 12 years old assumes that the child will be sharing the parents cabin. Children older than age 12 are charged as adults. Child rates will appear on the booking page when you select the number of children in your party. Rates range between $231 to $272 depending on the season.
If the guest cancels the trip, the following applies. Number of days prior to the tour start date:
Mekong Cruise Tour Operator reserves the right to only commit to providing services for each Package in case where there are minimum of 4 adult passengers on board the boat.
Mekong Cruise Tour Operator is not obliged to provide other vehicles such as speed boat, local boat or van to their cruise for any late arrival passengers. A passenger shall be liable for any incurred costs caused by late arrival to departure of the cruise and shall not be entitled to claim for any damages or compensation.
For safety reasons and the weather conditions, the program may change without prior notice.
Mekong Cruise Operator provides safety boxes at Luang Say lodge’s office and at Vat Phou Cruise Manager’s cabin. It is agreed that Mekong Cruises has no responsibility or liability for loss of valuables or items at any kind of the passenger left in the room/cabin. The insurance company engaged and provided by Mekong Cruises shall be liable for the limit of Marine Hull & Machinery and Protection and Indemnity insurance at USD 5,000,000 per event. Coverage Exclusion: loss of cash, negotiable instruments, precious metals or stones, valuables or objects of a rare or precious nature, belonging to persons.
The Mekong Tour Operator reserves the right to increase fees if government agencies increase taxes without adequate notice. The Mekong Tour Operator reserves the right to increase fees if the price of oil exceeds $120 USD per barrel 45 days before guest departure.