The Golden Triangle

Savor the magnificent scenery of the Mekong River on this unique cruise from the Thailand’s Golden Triangle into the heart of Laos—a journey from Chiang Rai to Vientiane via Luang Prabang. Travel along formerly inaccessible stretches of Southeast Asia’s most exciting river.

From3,400 $per person

11- or 12-Day Mekong River Cruise Through Laos and Thailand from Chiang Rai to Vientiane


Departure Dates

Golden Triangle to Vientiane (Downstream)

Start End Ship Availability
23. Feb 2020 4. Mar 2020 Mekong Pearl sold out
12. Sep 2020 22. Sep 2020 Mekong Pearl on request
11. Aug 2021 21. Aug 2021 Mekong Pearl check rate & cabin
28. Sep 2021 8. Oct 2021 Mekong Pearl check rate & cabin
22. Oct 2021 1. Nov 2021 Mekong Pearl check rate & cabin
19. Feb 2022 1. Mar 2022 Mekong Pearl check rate & cabin
15. Mar 2022 25. Mar 2022 Mekong Pearl check rate & cabin

Vientiane to Golden Triangle (Upstream)

Start End Ship Availability
26. Sep 2020 7. Oct 2020 Mekong Pearl check rate & cabin
23. Aug 2021 3. Sep 2021 Mekong Pearl check rate & cabin
3. Mar 2022 14. Mar 2022 Mekong Pearl check rate & cabin

Our Route

The Golden Triangle Map

Golden Triangle – Huay Xay – Pak Tha – Pak Ou – Luang Prabang – Kuang Si Falls – Xayabouri Dam – Salakham – Vientiane

Discover Vientiane and the UNESCO World Heritage city of Luang Prabang, stroll through colorful markets, and experience firsthand the Laotian people’s traditional way of life. Relax aboard your exclusive river ship and enjoy unspoiled nature along the mighty upper Mekong—one of the most difficult rivers in the world to navigate, with fluctuating water levels, tight gorges, labyrinths of sandbanks and churning rapids.

Get in contact

Bernhard Steiner

Custom Travel Network, USA

+1 949 888 6668
bernhard@customtravelnetwork.com
From3,400 $per person

11- or 12-Day Mekong River Cruise Through Laos and Thailand from Chiang Rai to Vientiane


Chiang Rai to Vientiane (Downstream)

Vientiane to Chiang Rai (Upstream)

DAY 1: The Golden Triangle—Boarding (D)

The Golden Triangle

Between 8 and 9 pm you transfer from Chiang Rai Airport or a local hotel to the famous Golden Triangle region. You enjoy a sightseeing city tour, which includes the Golden Buddha of Sop Ruak and the Hall of Opium Museum. The Hall of Opium, sponsored by the royal family of Thailand, provides an in-depth look at the history and politics of the opium trade and health impact of opium use. Later you board the Mekong Pearl, a boutique German–Laotian river ship, and settle into your comfortable cabin and unpack for an 11-day cruise. In the evening, you enjoy the ship’s spacious decks and lounge before attending a welcome dinner and reception. Overnight on board.

DAY 2: The Golden Triangle—Huay Xay and Pak Tha (BLD)

The Golden Triangle area at Chiang Saen

This morning your exciting voyage on the mighty Mekong River really gets underway, with your departure from the Golden Triangle region, where Myanmar, Laos and Thailand meet. Today’s destination is the nearby Laotian town of Huay Xay on the Laos–Thailand border. Your ship then takes you through the stunning scenery of northern Laos to the small village of Pak Tha. From there you take a long-tail boat excursion on the Namtha River to visit a Khmu village. You then continue downstream until your cruise ship anchors at a sandbank for the night. Overnight on board.

DAY 3: Astonishing Landscapes and Remote Villages (BLD)

See elephants in action

The river traffic increases as you pass through a densely populated region accessible only by water. Here you discover some of the wild Mekong’s most beautiful landscapes: hills covered with tropical vegetation, dramatic rock formations, and a fascinating mixture of rapid currents and slow rivulets. The power of the mighty Mekong gives your cruise the feeling of a real expedition. Relax on deck, in your cabin, or in the lounge as you enjoy the otherworldly atmosphere of these spectacular surroundings. A short while later you arrive in Oudomxay Province. Overnight on board.

DAY 4: Pak Ou Caves (BLD)

The Pak Ou Caves

After a relaxing morning on board, your boutique ship stops at a small riverside village to visit the famous Pak Ou Caves, where thousands of small Buddha statues dwell within. From there, you can go on a short jungle trek through the forest to a local village to see their traditional distillery. Alternatively, you can reach the village comfortably by boat. Nearby you can see elephants working, unless they are employed elsewhere at the time of your visit. You enjoy your dinner on board surrounded by impressive limestone mountains. Overnight on board.

DAY 5: The UNESCO World Heritage City of Luang Prabang (BL)

Today you reach Luang Prabang, the former royal capital of Laos, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Your day begin with a city walk to the famous Wat Xieng Thong temple with its gold-trimmed tile roofs, which leave you in awe. Later you explore other highlights during this full-day excursion through Luang Prabang. In the evening, you walk up Mount Phou Si, which offers a spectacular view of the Mekong and Khan Rivers and the surrounding mountains. You enjoy a stroll along the Mekong promenade or visit the colorful Hmong night market. Luang Prabang offers many opportunities for fine dining, and tonight you are free to choose from the numerous offerings in town or along the Mekong River. Overnight on board.

DAY 6: The Royal Capital, Luang Prabang (BD)

In the early morning, you can observe the traditional giving of alms in the streets of Luang Prabang and explore the traditional morning market. After your breakfast on board, you join our guided city tour, which includes the National Museum of Luang Prabang, situated in the former royal palace, and a local handicraft village. After exploring the city center, the afternoon is yours to enjoy. You can choose from dozens of local restaurants and eateries. Before dinner on board, you attend a celebration featuring a traditional Lao dance performance and a Baci friendship ceremony. Overnight on board.

DAY 7: Kuang Si Falls (BLD)

After breakfast on board, you enjoy the beautiful views and possibly spot local fishermen onshore as you cruise further downstream. After a few hours of cruising downriver, you stop and continue by tuk-tuks to visit the famous Kuang Si Falls, some of Laos’ most remarkable waterfalls. In the afternoon, don’t miss the Xayabouri Dam, the biggest hydroelectric power plant in Laos. That evening you enjoy our famous Mekong River Cruises barbecue dinner in a beautiful riverside location. Overnight on board.

DAY 8: The Farming Village of Ban Don Saingam (BLD)

Today you visit a hidden cave and experience nature on some easy hiking trails. In the afternoon, you take in the beautiful views on the sun deck or attend presentations on the history and culture of Laos. Later you relax on board, enjoying the easy comfort and expert service of your boutique ship in an exclusive, yet casual atmosphere. Overnight on board.

DAY 9: Powerful Rapids and the Town of Salakham (BLD)

Downstream you discover some of the most remarkable, impressive landscapes of the wild Mekong. The scenery becomes more and more spectacular: hills covered with tropical vegetation, awe-inspiring rock formations along the riverbanks, and a diverse array of rapid currents and slow rivulets. Later you visit the dreamy town of Salakham. The power of the mighty Mekong gives your cruise the feeling of a real expedition. You enjoy the beautiful views and watch nature’s wonders along the riverbanks before your ship heads further downriver and stops for the night. Overnight on board.

DAY 10: Vientiane, the Capital of Laos (BLD)

Vientiane - The Arc de Triomphe

You continue downstream on the Mekong, known locally as the “Mother of All Waters”. Today’s destination is the Laotian capital, Vientiane, where you see the Pha That Luang stupa—an architectural symbol of Laos—as well as the Patuxai, also known as the Arc de Triomphe of Vientiane. You celebrate the last evening of your cruise with a farewell dinner on board, together with your friendly crew, cruise director, and captain. Overnight on board.

DAY 11: Disembarkation in Vientiane (B)

Disembarkation

After breakfast you say goodbye to your Laotian crew, check out and disembark your boutique river ship. Your unforgettable journey comes to an end as you transfer to the airport or to your local hotel.

DAY 1: Vientiane—Boarding (D)

At 2 pm you check in and board the Mekong Pearl, a comfortable German–Laotian cruise ship. This unique river vessel is the first of its kind to offer cabins on the upper Mekong. First you settle into your comfortable cabin and unpack for a 12-day cruise. In the afternoon, you join a guided city tour that includes highlights of the Laotian capital such as the Pha That Luang stupa and Patuxai, known as the Arc de Triomphe of Vientiane. Back on board your river vessel, you enjoy its spacious decks and lounge before attending your welcome reception and dinner. A selection of Asian and European food is provided throughout the cruise. Overnight on board.

DAY 2: Wild Nature Along the Mighty Mekong (BLD)

Today your Mekong river cruise experience starts. During the day, you cruise upriver, where you discover some of the most remarkable, impressive landscapes. In the afternoon, you enjoy the beautiful views and watch nature’s wonders along the Mekong’s shores before your boutique ship stops at a quiet place to stay for the night. Overnight on board.

DAY 3: Powerful Rapids and the Town of Salakham (BLD)

Further north the landscape becomes more and more spectacular: hills covered with tropical vegetation, awe-inspiring rock formations along the riverbanks, and a diverse array of rapid currents and slow rivulets. During the day, you visit the dreamy town of Salakham. The power of the mighty Mekong gives your cruise the feeling of a real expedition. You enjoy the beautiful views and watch nature’s wonders along the riverbanks before your ships heads north again and stops for the night. Overnight on board.

DAY 4: The Farming Village Ban Don Saingam (BLD)

Upstream you stop at the small farming village Ban Don Saingam, where you can participate in a 30-minute trek to explore a hidden cave visited exclusively by Mekong River Cruises guests. The purely natural landscape is only broken by the seldom sights of small villages and local herds of cattle.
Overnight on board.

DAY 6: Xayabouri Dam (BLD)

The Kuang Si Falls in Laos

During and after breakfast on board, you enjoy the beautiful view and possibly watch local fishermen along the shore. On the way, don’t miss the Xayabouri Dam, the biggest hydroelectric power plant in Laos. In the afternoon, you meet the inhabitants of a small hill tribe village regularly visited by our guests and supported by donations. Overnight on board.

DAY 6: Kuang Si Falls and Luang Prabang (BLD)

In the morning, you join a guided shore excursion that takes you to the Kuang Si Falls, some of the most beautiful waterfalls in Laos. In the afternoon, you reach Luang Prabang, the former royal capital of Laos, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In the evening, you walk up Mount Phou Si, which offers a spectacular view of the Mekong and Khan Rivers and the surrounding mountains. You enjoy a stroll along the Mekong promenade and visit the colorful Hmong night market before having dinner on board and attending a traditional Lao dance performance and a Baci friendship ceremony. Overnight on board.

DAY 7: The Royal Capital, Luang Prabang (BL)

The famous Pak Ou-caves

In the early morning, you can observe the traditional giving of alms in the streets of Luang Prabang and explore the traditional morning market. After breakfast on board, you join a guided city tour, which includes the National Museum of Luang Prabang, situated in the former royal palace, and a local handicraft village. In the afternoon, you are free to explore the city on your own. Luang Prabang offers many opportunities for fine dining. Tonight you can choose from the numerous restaurants in town or along the Mekong River. Overnight on board.

DAY 8: Pak Ou Caves (BLD)

See elephants in action

During breakfast, you cruise takes you upstream until your boutique ship stops at the famous Pak Ou Caves, within which thousands of small Buddha statues dwell. From there, you can go on a short jungle trek through the forest to a small riverside village and visit their distillery. Alternatively, you can reach the village comfortably by boat. Nearby you can see work elephants in action, unless they are employed elsewhere at the time of your visit. That afternoon, your ship continues cruising upstream towards Oudomxay Province. Overnight on board.

DAY 9: The Mighty Mekong (BLD)

The river traffic thins out as you proceed upstream, and you can enjoy the fantastic landscapes surrounding you. You can relax on deck, in your comfortable cabin or in the lounge and soak up the sun as the gorgeous landscape becomes more and more spectacular: hills covered with tropical vegetation, awe-inspiring rock formations along the riverbanks, and a diverse array of rapid currents and slow rivulets. The power of the mighty Mekong gives your cruise the feeling of a real expedition. Overnight on board.

DAY 10: Relaxation and Village Life (BL)

The Golden Triangle area at Chiang Saen

Today you relax on deck, enjoying astonishingly diverse landscapes and the tranquility of northern Laos—a real retreat from the hustle and bustle of daily life back home. As you cruise along the green hills, you start heading toward Pak Tha. That evening, you enjoy our famous Mekong River Cruises barbecue dinner in a beautiful riverside location. Overnight on board.

DAY 11: Pak Tha and Huay Xay

In the small village of Pak Tha, you join a long-tail boat excursion on the Namtha River, which takes you to a nearby Khmu village, whose school has been supported by donations from Mekong River Cruises guests for many years. The purely natural landscape is only broken by the seldom sights of small villages and local herds of cattle. In the afternoon, you proceed to the Thailand–Laos border at Chiang Khong, Thailand, and Ban Huay Xay, Laos. In the evening, you enjoy your last dinner on the Mekong. Overnight on board.

DAY 12: Farewell, Mekong! (B)

After breakfast you say goodbye to your Laotian crew. You check out and disembark your boutique ship before transferring to the airport or your local hotel. It’s a bittersweet goodbye to an adventure you won’t soon forget!

From3,400 $per person

11- or 12-Day Mekong River Cruise Through Laos and Thailand from Chiang Rai to Vientiane


Tour Prices Include

  • 10 nights in selected cabin type aboard your boutique river cruise ship
  • Local English-speaking guides
  • Entrance fees for sightseeing according to itinerary
  • Excursions according to itinerary
  • Tours and transfers according to itinerary
  • Drinking water in vehicles and on the ship
  • Meals as indicated in the itinerary (B= Breakfast, =Lunch, and D=Dinner)
  • Complimentary coffee, tea, and water on board your boutique river cruise ship
  • Presentations and lectures on board by the cruise director
  • Transfers between airports and hotels within city limits (only guaranteed if information was correctly provided four weeks prior to departure at the latest)

Not Included

  • 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
  • Video or photography fees (if requested during excursions)

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

This journey is generally not for guests with limited mobility or who depend on CPAP machines. Please contact us for more information about your specific requirements before booking.