Best time to visit Laos

Slow Boat on the Mekong River in Laos 2024

A peaceful trip along the Mekong River is a great way to get acquainted with Lao people and take great pictures

Best time: May–September

Slow Boat on the Mekong River
Slow Boat on the Mekong River
Slow Boat on the Mekong River
Slow Boat on the Mekong River

When you arrive in a new country, there are always several things that are pretty much mandatory for any traveler. In Laos one of such things is slow boating. There is also a speedboating, but if you want to dive into some "true" traveling in Laos, you need to skip the speed and enjoy a slow two-day trip on the Mekong River.

Usually, a slow boat journey starts from the Chiang Kong in Thailand, and its first stop is right across the border in the Lao city of Huay Xai. This is where you can take a boat as well. Be sure to book the ticket beforehand and be early enough to find a seat, as it may be overcrowded. Before getting on a slow boat be sure to pack some food, as no lunch is served and snacks are a double price.

The two-day trip totaling about seven hours flows along the Mekong River and showcases great views of the Lao countryside and its small villages, some of which can be reached only from the river. Along the river's banks, local people continue their daily routine—washing clothes, bathing, threshing rice, and so on. The peaceful journey ends in Luang Prabang.

Such an activity is available year-round, but the low season is ​preferable as the water rises in the river and the weather isn't too hot. Also, during the high season traveling by bus is more common for local people, so there are fewer boats available.

Practical info

When is the best time to go on a slow boat trip along the Mekong River in Laos?

The ideal period to embark on a slow boat trip along the Mekong River in Laos stretches from May to September, during the low season. This is the time when the water level is high, and the weather is relatively mild, which makes it comfortable to enjoy the somewhat languid two-day boat journey. Conversely, when the high season hits, there are fewer boats available, and many tourists prefer to travel by bus. Show more

Where does a typical slow boat journey start and end in Laos?

Generally, a standard slow boat journey follows a path that starts from Chiang Kong, Thailand, stopping at Huay Xai in Laos, on its very first leg, after crossing the border from Thailand. The journey then continues for two days along the Mekong River, terminating in the picturesque town of Luang Prabang, situated in Laos. Huay Xai and Chiang Kong share the same pier, which makes it easy to commence the journey from either location. Show more

What kind of scenes can be seen during the slow boat trip along the Mekong River?

The Mekong River's slow boat journey in Laos is brimming with picturesque scenes that showcase the tranquil countryside, tiny villages, and everyday life along the riverbank. The journey provides an exclusive glimpse into the life of the Lao people as the boat glides past scenes such as bathing, washing clothes, and threshing rice. Furthermore, travelers often take photos to capture the breathtaking scenery and the peaceful journey. Show more

How long does a two-day slow boat journey take in Laos?

A slow boat journey along the Mekong River in Laos lasts for two days and covers approximately seven hours of sailing. The boat includes an overnight stop in Pakbeng, offering a chance to explore this small town before continuing the journey the following day. After the stopover, the boat proceeds to its final destination, Luang Prabang, in Laos. Show more

What should you prepare for a two-day slow boat journey on the Mekong River in Laos besides a packed lunch?

In addition to a packed lunch, adequate preparation for a two-day slow boat journey on the Mekong River in Laos includes carrying enough water, as it is not provided on the boat. Protecting your skin from the sun is equally important, and travelers should wear sunscreen, hats, or other forms of protection, given that the sun can be harsh. It is also wise to don comfortable clothes and shoes, as there is no air-conditioning, and passengers sit on hard wooden benches for a long period. Show more

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