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Mekong River Trip -- Luang Prabang to N. Thailand

Mekong River Trip -- Luang Prabang to N. Thailand

Old Sep 10th, 2005, 07:21 AM
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Mekong River Trip -- Luang Prabang to N. Thailand

We're working with a travel company on our first trip to the region this January (Bangkok, Luang Prabang, N. Thailand, N. Vietnam and Cambodia). They strongly recommend a Mekong River cruise from Luang Prabang to N. Thailand (its possible we may go downriver instead, depending on how timing works out). It sounds very nice, on a restored barge with an overnight at Luang Say Lodge in Pakbeng and some sightseeing along the way, but it also seems to be on the high end and rather pricey . From my research it sounds like you can do the same trip either on the slow boats or a combination slow boat/speedboat for considerably less and just arrange for a basic guesthouse in Pakbeng. Does anyone have any experience with either option and can offer any advice. Thanks.
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Old Sep 10th, 2005, 08:02 AM
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Sorry to be such a cynic, but anything the travel company recommends is going to cost you a LOT more than doing it yourself would.

Backpackers have been doing the slow boat trip down the river for many, many years and it's very cheap. The fast boat is fairly dangerous, and not recommended if you want to enjoy the trip. I have heard of a company that recently started doing upscale trips down the river. No doubt this is what the travel company want to book you on. Frankly, you'll get it for a lot less if you wait until you get to SE Asia to book it.

You're covering a lot of terrritory on this trip you're planning. I hope you'll look carefully at your itinerary and make sure you slow down enough to experience this fascinating part of the world.
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Old Sep 10th, 2005, 06:57 PM
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I've heard the Northern Thailand route to Luang Prabang on the Mekong is very touristy and doesn't have the best river scenery in Laos. Personally, I wouldn't want to be stuck on a tourist boat isolated with other foreigners for 2 days. I'd rather be exploring on my own and interacting with locals.

I did a river trip on the Nam Ou river north of Luang Prabang. It was gorgeous and pristine. You can do many different river trips from Luang Prabang, ranging from half a day to several days. Highly recommended!

If you do go with the company that runs the fancy tourist boats, then I've heard their southern route on a boat called the Vat Phou, is much nicer than the Mekong trip. It's a smaller boat and there are more things to see and do on this route.

By going through a travel agent, you're probably paying the highest prices for everything. You can easily book everything once you are in Asia, if you feel comfortable doing that.
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Old Nov 14th, 2005, 03:51 AM
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If you are going to do a boat trip on the Mekong River and can afford to do the Vat Phou (3 day trip and approx USD $400 per person in high season), charming, great crew and excellent food served on board. This is absolutely the best boat trip on the Mekong River. http://www.asian-oasis.com/MekongCru...u_cruises.html

If you Google Vat Phou you will be able to find additional information. Whether you do it upriver or downriver you still overnight in Pakse.

You can also do an inexpensive day trip on the Mekong for a lot less money but that is an entirely different experience.
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Old Nov 15th, 2005, 06:41 AM
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I have taken the fast boat and the slow boat downriver form Chiang Khong-Huay Xai to Luang Prabang. This trip can also be done in reverse form Laos to Thailand. The slow boat is very slow and not so comfotable. you are traveling with the backpacker crowd. the fast boat is very fast but LOUD.
You have to wear earplugs. Scenery was beautiful. I did it in February a few years ago.
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Old Nov 15th, 2005, 05:01 PM
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I did the slow boat LP - Pakbeng - Huay Xai in August and it was a real adventure, it cost 85,000K for each ferry ticket (total = 170,000) I saw the fast boats going by but wouldn't want to do it that way, far too noisy and more dangerous too, I believe. The slow boat is not too comfortable but the scenery was great and the whole experience was a real old-world adventure. I'm glad I did it.
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