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Travel by boat in Mekong River

  • HannahD

    Joined Travelfish
    19th February, 2013
    Posts: 1

    Hi, I'd like to know if there is any way that I could travel in boat or passenger ferry for the following location:
    1. Vientiane to Louang phrabang
    2. Louang phrabang to Vientiane
    3. Louang phrabang to Pakse
    4. Savannakhet to Pakse
    5. Pakse to Vientiane

    Also, I would like to know:
    1. What services are available, in case boats or ferry are not available: tourist and publictransport?
    2. What are the sailing schedules?
    3. How long would travel between each port take?
    4.What are the costs?

    Thanks in advance for the help.

    #1 Posted: 19/2/2013 - 01:52

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  • somtam2000

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    Joined Travelfish
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    Location Indonesia
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    Hi HannahD,

    There are no regular passenger ferries on any of the routes you list anymore. You could theoretically jump on a freighter for the Luang Prabang to Vientiane stretch or perhaps charter a boat, but aside from that, no long distant boats anymore - bus and truck all the way.


    #2 Posted: 21/2/2013 - 03:53

  • mooball

    TF writer
    Joined Travelfish
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    Location Australia
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    Yeah, I recommend getting a cargo boat for those journeys. It'll be rough and will take many days, but I guess you know that right?

    #3 Posted: 4/3/2013 - 12:01

  • Captain_Bob

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    Joined Travelfish
    27th May, 2006
    Location Thailand
    Posts: 1790

    There are expenive tourist boat cruises in some sections of the Mekong, e.g. http://www.asian-oasis.com/experiences/cruises and there is the cheap 2-day slow boat between Huay Xai and Luang Prabang, but otherwise no regular boat/ferry service. As roads improve river transport is becoming a thing of the past.

    #4 Posted: 5/3/2013 - 02:18


    Joined Travelfish
    6th June, 2009
    Posts: 6956
    Total reviews: 10

    To us, riverboat travel sounds romantic and relaxing, but to people who live here it sounds slow and boring. That mode of travel is just a lot less efficient than a bus.

    #5 Posted: 5/3/2013 - 02:46

  • mariajames

    Joined Travelfish
    29th September, 2012
    Posts: 58

    I would love to travel in the boat it's very awesome....

    #6 Posted: 12/3/2013 - 11:06

  • Rufus

    Joined Travelfish
    22nd April, 2007
    Location Laos
    Posts: 973

    How many times are you going to ask this question? The answer will not change.

    #7 Posted: 20/3/2013 - 19:08

  • exacto

    Joined Travelfish
    12th February, 2006
    Location United States
    Posts: 2583
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    Hi Hannah,

    Huai Xai to Luang Prabang is still possible, but as noted above, the routes you want aren't available anymore. A little bit on the river goes a long way however, and those longer trips often turn into endurance tests rather than pleasant journeys. From Luang Prabang, you can take the day trip up river to Pak Ou Cave. That's about an hour or so river time and I'd say is the best part of that trip.

    Another nice, shorter trip along the river, when it is running, is Pakse to Champasak or the reverse. It has been a few years since I did that trip, but I really enjoyed it, even when the boat crashed on the rocks on the return leg and we had to hitch the rest of the way back to Pakse. Regards.

    #8 Posted: 20/3/2013 - 20:38


    Joined Travelfish
    6th June, 2009
    Posts: 6956
    Total reviews: 10

    Remmember when being a real man meant screaming down the Mekong on a long tail, stone drunk, with one hand wrapped around a beer Lao and the other wrapped around a 22 year old Thai chick? Well, fortunately some things never change, and the longtail remains the sacred shrine of real men everywhere:


    #9 Posted: 20/3/2013 - 23:20

  • Rufus

    Joined Travelfish
    22nd April, 2007
    Location Laos
    Posts: 973

    Those were the days my friend, we thought they'd never end".

    #10 Posted: 22/3/2013 - 02:57

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  • sayadian

    Joined Travelfish
    15th January, 2008
    Posts: 1557

    ...and surfing the big one before giving Charlie hell! What is this, a fantasy of the 70s? Bring it on G.I. Joe. Hahooo!

    #11 Posted: 22/3/2013 - 06:42


    Joined Travelfish
    6th June, 2009
    Posts: 6956
    Total reviews: 10

    I live on the Mekong and I actually wish I could take a river boat to PP in Cambodia. But it's not possible. The river has a number of areas where boat travel isn't feasible. It's never been a commercial waterway in the way that the Amazon or Mississippi were.

    #12 Posted: 26/3/2013 - 13:19

  • jamesonridl-

    Joined Travelfish
    7th February, 2013
    Posts: 9

    I suspect its impossible to go from Ho Chi Minh City to Siem Reap in in the future. It seems an extended way. I went from the Mekong Delta to Phnom Penh which took half every day. I'd recommend doing one phase by boat. Its quite a pleasant drive from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap. However it depends a bit on your obtainable time.

    #13 Posted: 27/3/2013 - 07:46

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