The majority of Mekong River cruises will take you through Cambodia and Vietnam, visiting places such as Siem Reap, Phnom Penh and Ho Chi Minh City. However, the longest river in South-East Asia also flows through Laos, forming part of its western border with Thailand and travelling the entire length of the country.
Although many aspects of Laotian culture are similar to that found in neighbouring lands, an Upper Mekong River cruise can offer some interesting differences. It can also take you to some wonderful sights – in both rural and urban areas. Here are just a few things you can expect to see.
The UNESCO-listed city of Luang Prabang is often the starting or finishing point for a Mekong River cruise in Laos. The area may be small but it’s big on colourful sights and there’s plenty of things to do.
From admiring respected watts (temples) and former French colonial villas that have been transformed into vibrant accommodation options to sampling some of the delicious cuisine at the outdoor markets (which also takes influence from France), your time here is sure to be memorable.
An entire day will likely be dedicated to exploring the Pak Ou Caves during your river cruise. Found where the Mekong branches off into the Ou River, the cave system has two standout headliners that receive much of the adoration from tourists and pilgrims.
Tham Ting and Tham Theung (upper and lower parts of the main cave) sit above the water level and provide a cavernous space where you will see hundreds of Buddha statues. Left by worshippers, these figures line the floor and the walls, creating a beautiful spectacle that is only equalled by the views back towards the river.
Located about 20 miles south of Luang Prabang, many people make the trip outside of the city to visit the Kuang Si Falls. However, you won’t need to worry about this as your Mekong River cruise will dock much closer and take you the rest of the way via tuk-tuk. Laos and the surrounding countries are famous for their waterfalls and this spot has to be one of the most breathtaking in South-East Asia.
You’ll immediately be taken aback by the turquoise colour the water has here as it flows down various drops and into a number of different pools. There is a wooden footbridge at the base of the main waterfall which provides a perfect photo opportunity and swimming is allowed in some areas. If you’re feeling really adventurous, though, a somewhat hidden staircase can take you to the top on a 15-minute hike. The slight ache in your legs will soon subside once you’re captivated by the views at the end of your climb.
If you don’t begin your river cruise in Luang Prabang, the chances are that you will embark the ship in Chiang Saen, part of The Golden Triangle region. This important port is where the Ruak River meets the Mekong and the point where Thailand, Laos and Myanmar converge.
As you gaze out across the three countries, you’ll spot small villages in the distance, beautiful hilltop temples and the winding path of the Mekong. Other attractions in the area include the House of Opium, where the area’s trade history is discussed, and a golden Buddha statue positioned atop a giant boat.
If you would like to know more about how you can discover Laos on a Mekong River cruise, call our team on 0800 028 4272. You can also fill out our online contact form.
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