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Published on December 8, 2014

The Mekong River not only provides life and transportation to Laos’ citizens, it also provides a blueprint for adventure.

1.1.  Luang Say Cruise

This short river trip lets you take in some of the Mekong’s most majestic sights. You’ll take passage on a 34-metre luxury river barge, the Luang Say, from Huay Xai near the border with northern Thailand. (The nearest Thai town is Chiang Khong, on the opposite bank of the Mekong River.) The journey takes you through Laos’ mountainous regions, past the Pak Ou Buddha Caves and riverside hill tribe communities before reaching the royal town of Luang Prabang.

At the halfway point of the journey, the boat will berth at Pakbeng for the night, and guests stay at the Luang Say Lodge, a series of teak bungalows overlooking the Mekong River.

1.2.  Vat Phou Cruise

This three-day cruise along the Mekong River takes you from Pakse to the Wat Phou ruins at Champasack, the Oum Muong ruins at Huei Thamo, the Si Phan Don riverine archipelago (also known as the 4,000 islands), and finally the Khon Phapheng waterfall near the border with Cambodia. The trip is leisurely and unhurried, with cozy accommodations onboard and all meals taken as you watch the river scenery pass you by.

1.3.  Mekong River Cruise

The “Mother of Waters”, as locals have called the Mekong River for generations, is also a highway that meanders past some of Laos’ most popular tourist attractions. During peak season between November and April, you’ll find a series of river ships ready to take you to Mekong destinations like Si Phan Don, Vat Phou and Luang Prabang.

These river ships are usually barges that have been converted into replicas of river steamers popular during the colonial era. Unlike the budget long boats that cruise along the Mekong, these ships handle both dining and accommodations, and facilitate excursions as well. River cruises on the Mekong include the Mekong Sun; the Mekong Explorer; and the Mekong Islands.