Discover Vientiane and UNESCO World Heritage Site Luang Prabang, stroll through colorful markets, and experience firsthand the Lao people’s traditional way of life.
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Golden Triangle – Huay Xay – Pak Tha – Pakbeng – Pak Ou – Luang Prabang – Kuang Si – Tha Deua – Paklay – Vientiane (or vv.)
Savour the magnificent scenery of the Mekong River on this unique cruise between the Golden Triangle in Thailand, Luang Prabang, in the heart of Laos and the Laotian capital of Vientiane. 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.
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You are picked up from Chiang Rai Airport or at your hotel within city limits between 8 – 9 am and brought to the once-notorious Golden Triangle region. Your sightseeing tour today includes a visit to the Golden Buddha of Sop Ruak and the new Hall of Opium. This fascinating museum, sponsored by the royal family of Thailand, provides an in-depth look at history and politics of the opium trade and health impact of opium use. Afterwards it is time to board your exclusive river vessel. The Mekong Sun, under joint German-Laotian ownership, is a unique boutique vessel. Settle into your comfortable cabin and unpack for a ten-day cruise. In the evening enjoy the spacious decks, the onboard lounge, and attend a dinnertime welcome reception.
All overnights aboard your boutique river cruise ship..
This morning your grand voyage on the mighty Mekong River really gets underway, with your departure from the Golden Triangle region, where Myanmar (Burma), Laos and Thailand meet. Today’s destination is the nearby Laotian town of Huay Xay on the Laotian-Thai border, where you will officially enter the People’s Democratic Republic of Laos. Your voyage then takes you into northern Laos amid stunning scenery and on to the small village of Pak Tha. Here you take a long-tail boat excursion on the Namtha River to visit a local village of the ethnic minority Khmu. You then continue downstream aboard your cruise ship and anchor at a sand or river bank.
The river traffic increases as you pass through a densely populated region accessible only by water. Here you will discover some of this still-untamed river’s most beautiful landscapes: hills covered with tropical vegetation, dramatic rock formations, and a fascinating mixture of fast currents and more placid stretches of river. The power of the mighty Mekong lends your cruise the feeling of a real expedition. Relax on deck, in your cabin, or in the lounge as you absorb the remoteness of these spectacular surroundings. A short while later you arrive in Pakbeng, a local market town serving the region. Nearby you are able to see elephants in action (unless they are employed elsewhere at the time of your visit).
After a relaxing morning onboard we stop at a small riverside village for a visit and to see their local distillery. From here, you can optionally go on a short jungle trek through the forest to the famous Pak Ou Caves, with thousands of small Buddha statues inside the caverns. Alternatively you can reach the caves comfortably by boat as well. This evening we enjoy our famous Mekong River Cruises BBQ dinner in a beautiful riverside location.
Overnight aboard the Mekong River Cruise Boutique-Boat.
Today you reach Luang Prabang, the former royal capital of Laos, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Begin with a walk up Phou Si-hill, which offers a spectacular view over the Mekong as well as the Khan river and the surrounding mountains. Among other highlights during this full day excursion through Luang Prabang, the famous Wat Xieng Thong temple with its Golden tiled roofs will surely leave you in awe. In the evening, enjoy strolling along the Mekong promenade or visiting the colorful night market of the local Hmong minority. As Luang Prabang offers many opportunities for fine dining, tonight you are free to choose from the numerous offerings in town or along the Mekong River. After these extensive visits you have a full day to explore the city on your own, stroll the lovely old town or relax aboard or in one of the many riverside cafés. Rent an E-Bike to explore the surrounding villages or visit a nearby elephant camp (optionally, can be booked against supplement on the spot).
Two overnights aboard the Mekong River Cruise Boutique-Boat.
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. After a several hours cruising downriver, you continue by bus to the famous Kuang Si Falls. Enjoy the natural pools and pause in another small village before reboarding. Your ship then heads south and passes through the Keng-Luang rapids.
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.
Enjoy the vistas and natural beauty along the river before your ship anchors at a remote sandbank for the night. Here, the Mekong once again becomes the boundary separating two unequal brothers: the neighbouring countries of booming Thailand and sleepy Laos. The river banks become less steep and more suitable for agricultural, especially on the Thai side.
You continue downstream along the “mother of all waters”, as the Mekong is known to the Thais and Laotians. Today’s destination is the Laotian capital of Vientiane, where you will see Pha That Luang Temple, the Lao national symbol, as well as the picturesque Arc de Triomphe. This last evening of your cruise is celebrated with a farewell dinner on board, together with your ever-friendly crew, cruise director, and captain.
After breakfast you say goodbye to your Laotian crew as you check out and disembark (until 10am). Your memorable river journey ends with your transfer to the airport or to your hotel (within city limits).
Meals included: breakfast (B), lunch (L), dinner (D).
In Vientiane we meet you at the airport or pick you up in your hotel in town between 1 – 2 pm. 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, in the evening. 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.
All overnights are spent aboard your boutique cruise ship.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. 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. You spend a last relaxing dinner and evening aboard, celebrating with a farewell dinner.
Today you say goodbye to your Laotian crew, check out, and transfer across the Thai-Lao Mekong friendship bridge, where you also pass immigration and brought to the once-notorious Golden Triangle region. Your sightseeing tour today includes a visit to the Golden Buddha of Sop Ruak and the new Hall of Opium. This fascinating museum, sponsored by the royal family of Thailand, provides an in-depth look at history and politics of the opium trade and health impact of opium use. Afterwards you are transferred to your Chiang Saen or Chiang Rai hotel (within city limits) or to the airport, where frequent flights to Bangkok are available (no flights departing before 8 p.m. can be reached).
Services not included