The Slow Boat into Laos

After a few months of fast boats, long tail boats and slave ships, it was finally time to embark on one of the most popular boat trips in South East Asia, the slow boat down the Mekong River from Chiang Rai in Thailand to Luang Prabang in Laos.

I booked my ticket two days before departure to ensure a spot from Sophapan Travel, one of the many tour operators in Chiang Rai. It cost 1490฿ (£27) which included the transfer to the Thai immigration at Chiang Khong, the ferry crossing across the river to the Laos immigration, a taxi to the slow boat pier and the two day long journey on the slow boat itself.

It doesn’t include food and drink which you can get on board, your accommodation or your visa into Laos which cost us $36 (£23) at the time. We chose to stay at the Luang Say Lodge with nice bungalows and a terrace overlooking the river.

The boat itself is surprisingly comfortable. There are plenty of big benches to stretch out on, a bar with a lot of beer and snacks, even a flushing toilet, which in our case was in a tiny bathroom occupied by a giant, dead catfish. We spent the day drinking and playing card games.

Our night in Pak Beng involved a lot more beer, so our second day, a painfully long 10 hours, was spent mostly eating and napping before arriving into the beautiful town of Luang Prabang around 5pm.

It’s definitely an experience I’ll never forget, and one I fully recommend if you’re heading that way! Sure you can catch a bus, but where’s the fun in that?

You can view the full album here.

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