After reading on the forum about the slow boat we are thinking it would be great to take it from Huay Xai southwards. Can anyone advise me does it go all the way to Vientiane? (then we would cross back into Thailand to stay in Nong Khai for a while) - How long would this take? Could we hop on and off in order to see the highlights of Laos? Or any other ideas would be great. Thank you Tina
#1 breatheagain has been a member since 28/4/2011. Posts: 29
The slow boat is a standard 2-day deal to Luang Prabang , with an overnight stop halfway at the town of Pakbeng. Beyond Luang Prabang there are very few prospects of a passenger boat further downstream, so it's basically then by bus or minivan down rte 13 to Vang Vieng and Vientiane.
If you are more determined to go by boat, there are some irregular possibilities from Luang Prabang to Tha Deua near Xayabouli, then by road to Pak Lay and then again sporadic departure of small boats to kao liaw pier west of Vientiane. Ask for more info if still interested.
thank you - will get off boat at Luang Prabang where I think there is an airport and fly to Udon Thani - bus trip sound hell! We will stay in Nong Khai or around there for a month and pop across border to Vientiane for a weekend or so. Then end of march fly from Udon thani to somewhere handy for excursion into Cambodia - Trat? is there an airport around there? Have spent whole morning lookint at Vietnam and decided to skip that - just because its there doesnt mean we have to visit! after a month or so will take boat from trat to Prachuap Khiri Khan or Chumphon and stay at one or both places for a time as recommended - thanks guys they look great. but that is planning for another day.
any comments on plans so far would be very welcome - tina
#4 breatheagain has been a member since 28/4/2011. Posts: 29
Re the decision to fly LP-Udon Thani.
Just my 2 cents as I'm no expert on Laos, but I thought the scenery on the road between Luang Prabang and Vang Vieng was jaw droppingly beautiful, more so than what you see on the 2 day Huay Xai -Luang Prabang slow boat. I also found the 8 hour bus journey much less of an ordeal than sitting squashed up on hard seats on an extremely overcrowded tourist boat from Huay Xai to LP for two days. (But our particular boat did sink so maybe I'm biased)
I didn't like Vang Vieng much and left next day by canoe and (mostly) pick up truck to Vientiane...wasn't too bad and I quite enjoyed the canoeing which was pretty effortless as you go with the current. I'm extraordinarily old too but I was the only person who didn't capsize in the minor rapids you have to negotiate. :-)
There's an airport at Trat but when I last did the Koh Kong border crossing from Thailand (which was a while ago) Cambodian border officials demanded to see a yellow fever certificate (which I didn't have of course) in order to extract tea money. Poipet is a bit of an ordeal for a novice too. Not insurmountable hassle by any means as long as you go there independently rather than on a scam bus from BKK... but a wee bit of hassle none the less.
I haven't done it, but if I was going back to Cambodia I'd be tempted to try the Pailin border crossing next time to see if it's any better.
More Cambodian border info here.
will take boat from trat to Prachuap Khiri Khan or Chumphon
Err what boat?
Like SBE, I also thought that the bus trip from LP to Vang Vieng , and then on to Vientiane, was fantastic from a scenery point-of-view, with the LP to VV section being particularly good.
I also thought that Vang Vieng was great. It wasn't much of a scene when I was there and I spent about 2 weeks exploring the area which was amazing. Incredible scenery, nice little villages and farms. Loved it.
Nong Khai is a great town that's worth hanging out in for a bit if you've got the time. Very laid back, with good accommodation and great eating options, and some interesting sites in and around the town.
Further west along the river, on #211, things get even better. There are some nice small towns, lovely little villages about every 20 or 30 km, and beautiful views across the Mekong. There are some very nice places to stay in Tha Bo, Sri Chiangmai, Sangkhom, Pak Chom, and Chiang Khan. Sangkhom is about halfway between Nong Khai and Chiang Khan, and there is an excellent bungalow operation there called Buoy. The bungalows have seen better days, but the location is outstanding, the food is incredible, the owners are great, and it's very inexpensive. It's a fantastic place to kick back in a hammock for a few days and watch the Mekong drift by.
Pak Chom doesn't get many visitors, but there are a couple of places to stay near the river.
Chiang Khan is a beautiful riverside town that's loaded with old wooden buildings and temples. It's undergoing a massive transformation ... from a blip on the old backpacker's map to a major travel destination for well-to-do Thais (mostly university students, it seemed). There's been an explosion of homestays (from a small handful to well over 100 in 2 years), and most of the old guest houses are being upgraded/renovated. If you think you might like to go in this direction, do try to NOT be there on a weekend or holiday as it will be overrun with Thai tourists and finding a place to stay won't be easy unless you've got a reservation.
I also love Trat . There is an airport there, but it's not that far of a bus trip to Trat from Bangkok, either. About 6 hours, I think, depending on the route your bus takes. From Trat Province, however, you're not going to get a boat across the Gulf ... as SBE hinted at.
You may want to consider going into Cambodia before you go up into Laos. I say this because it's going to be quite hot at that time of year, and you might find things more comfortable further north in and around LP than in Cambodia at the time when you're thinking of going. Just a thought.
Hi guys! I've just done 2 months in Thailand with friends and am about to head off on my own....truth be told - I am scared but determined! I've decided to catch a bus to Chiang Rai from Chiang Mai around the 11th of Feb, then get another bus to the border of Laos and take the slowboat down the Mekong. Anyone interested in doing this together? Am currently in Bangkok :)
#8 lisastravels has been a member since 5/2/2015. Posts: 3
Hi Lisa, very easy to meet travel buddies en route to Laos and the slow boat. Many many travelers head that way every day from Chiang Mai. You can join a group from here via minivan to Chiang Khong, cross to Laos and take the boat together, or even going solo get a bus to Chiang Khong, maybe stay there one night at a guesthouse along the river and cross to Laos buy your own boat ticket and still meet up with loads of others doing same thing. Good luck and happy travels.