Photo: Classic scenery surrounds Vang Vieng.

Laos forum

Floating the Mekong from Laos to Cambodia

Posted by rsthomas on 11/8/2008 at 09:20

Greetings all!

I was wondering if there is a way to float down the Mekong from Laos and into Cambodia. I am going to be traveling in Laos from Bokeo to Luang Prabang to Vang Vieng to Vientiene. From Vientiene I want to head to Siem Reap in Cambodia. However rather than flying or bussing, I thought it would be really cool to take a river trip from Laos into Cambodia. Is this possible?? Have any of you done it?? If so, can you please take the time to explain to me the best way. Thank you so much, I truly appreciate it!! Cheers;)


#1 rsthomas has been a member since 7/7/2008. Posts: 12

Posted by Tilapia on 11/8/2008 at 22:53

I think that it might be difficult to find a boat that will take you south on the Mekong past Nong Khai. It would be great if you could, and you may be able to negotiate something with a boat owner, but I don't think that you'll find any regular river transport going in that direction. You can get a speedboat to LP from Vientiane, and probably from LP to Vientiane. But, as far as I know, going any further south will be tough.

You will definitely not get to Vang Vieng on the Mekong.

#2 Tilapia has been a member since 21/4/2006. Location: Canada. Posts: 1,499
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Posted by somtam2000 on 12/8/2008 at 07:27 admin

Hi Ross,

There's no regular passenger traffic on the Mekong south of Luang Prabang until you reach Champasak - from where boats can be had for the run down to Si Phan Don. I've heard of people hiring speedboats for the trip from Vientiane to Savannakhet, but that was a few years back now, and from memory they were a part of an organised trip.

From Cambodian border onwards, again there is no regular passenger traffic until Phnom Penh, though in Cambodia you may have a better chance of organising some kind of charter, or spot on a freighter.

As Tilapia says, as Vang Vieng is not on the Mekong, you'll be hard-pressed to reach it! ;-)

#3 somtam2000 has been a member since 21/1/2004. Location: Indonesia. Posts: 7,576
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Posted by somsai on 12/8/2008 at 10:06

It's of little help but... In case anyone reading is interested in boats in Laos. There is still one regular slow boat south of Luang Prabang on the Mekong. It runs 4 times a week Paklai to Vientiane and takes about 8 or 10 hours. Unless someone is headed to Xayabouli province in paticular no one seems to use it. Paklai is a long way downstream of Luang Prabang. Nice part of Laos.

#4 somsai has been a member since 1/3/2006. Location: United States. Posts: 568

Posted by Tilapia on 12/8/2008 at 18:44

Somsai, that sounds really cool. Might look into that in December.


#5 Tilapia has been a member since 21/4/2006. Location: Canada. Posts: 1,499
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Posted by clarkabroad on 28/3/2010 at 12:52

Did anyone actually attempt doing this? I would really like to travel from the northern Laos town of Xieng Kok all the way to Phnom Penh. I'll go for anything except for a bus, car, train, or plane. Ferries, freighters, slow boats, speed boats; I might even consider buying a sea kayak. Ross did you get anywhere on your trip to the Mekong River valley?

Any recent developments would be appreciated.

#6 clarkabroad has been a member since 28/3/2010. Posts: 2

Posted by Tilapia on 28/3/2010 at 22:54

I never did try this as I ended up in a different part of Laos. However, I did cycle along the Mekong between Nong Khai and Chiang Khan, and saw where there were many areas of the river, especially between Sangkhom and Chiang Khan, that no boat could possibly navigate except, perhaps, a canoe/dugout or kayak.

In some areas it would have been entirely possible to walk or wade across the river into Laos. I'm sure it's different during the wetter times of the year, but for the most part the water levels were too low. That particular stretch is fairly long and nowhere during the entire time did I see any type of boat apart from the odd dugout. No cargo ships, no transport boats, no speed boats.

However, around Chiang Khan and west of the town the water was deep enough for cargo ships and barges (I saw both heading east from upriver) so it's likely possible to get at least as far as Sanakham, which is the town across the from Nong Khai. From there you would likely have to go by land to somewhere around Vientiane.

It probably depends very much on what time of the year you are going.

#7 Tilapia has been a member since 21/4/2006. Location: Canada. Posts: 1,499
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Posted by somsai on 29/3/2010 at 03:35

clarkabroad you should probably google around and read posts on this site and others. Go to bottom of page and click on the word "blog" even. Lots of you tube.

I went to Xiengkok a month after my comment above and all seems the same. To get there you'd have to fast boat up the river then back down. South of Vientiane there's a great hard surface, flat road that parrallels the river all the way down, no more boat traffic, and then there's Khone Falls.

Not saying it can't be done, just that it's going to take a lot more coordination than you can pick up on here. Speak either language.

#8 somsai has been a member since 1/3/2006. Location: United States. Posts: 568

Posted by MADMAC on 29/3/2010 at 09:35

There are several rapids that are difficult for boats to negotiate both north and south of Mukdahan / Savanakhet. Reinforcing what others here have said, there's no regular boat traffic in this area going along the river (vice crossing it) that I know of.

#9 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957

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