Mekong slowboat to Luang Prabang

This post is part of the Laos series

The start of our four day journey

Our journey started in Pai where we said goodbye to everyone and wished them a happy christmas for the tenth time. We left in the same van back down the curvy road filled with motion sickness. There is a direct bus to the border crossing, but we didn’t want to spent the entire day driving. So we decided to stay overnight in Chiang Mai while catching our breath. We did our laundry the evening we arrived and decided to just rest up for the following days.

The next day in the morning we got picked up by another van to bring us to Chiang Khong, where we would stay another night. Again it was a really long and slow journey, but the good thing was that dinner was included. Right?? Nope, dinner at our guesthouse was dry rice with some fried vegetables. We couldn’t really complain because we already paid for everything before we even left Bangkok. There were no hot showers and the rooms had a musty smell. All the other guests had booked the same “tour” to Luang Prabang and they were all getting drunk at the bar. We were too tired to do anything so we went and got some rest for the next day.

Border crossing and the slowboat

We got ready the next day and had our included breakfast which wasn’t great, but better than the dinner last night. Everyone was packing their stuff and the owner told us to exchange our money to USD with him. We needed USD to get across the border and pay for our visa he told us. But at the crossing we were able to pay with our baht anyway. It turned out he was just after a high comision on the exchange rate and ripped everyone off. This wasn’t the worst part of the entire crossing. We were with about 12 people and it took 2 hours in total to get our passports stamped.

After the crossing we took another bus to the slowboat pier on the Laos side of the border. At the pier there were stands where you could buy some snacks and all kinds of drinks for on the boat. The rest of the boat trip was uneventful, but was filled with the most beautiful views of the mountains and hills.

We had a halfway stop in Pakbeng, a local village where all the slow boats stop for a night. There we stayed in the cheapest and best hotel we’ve been to. It almost gave us a resort feeling, for a fraction of the price. We had some Indian food in one of the restaurants and went to sleep, while the other people decided to party.

Arriving in Luang Prabang

The second day was a slow day on the slowboat. We were on there for almost 8 hours and couldn’t wait to get out. We arrived to Luang Prabang and checked into our hostel. As in every city we went for the food first. Luckily there was a night market and we had many options to choose from.

The next day was New Year. We planned with someone else from the hostel to go to the Kuang Si waterfalls. It’s a beautiful place with different layers of the waterfall and you can swim almost everywhere. At the top you could take a small bamboo raft to the source. We took some pictures at the top and then decided to check out the “secret” place to swim. We’ve read about it on every blog about this place, so we wanted to check it out for ourselves. The search didn’t take long but it was closed off with three layers of barbed wires. Nissa and our friend from the hostel went to check out this place. Because there was not a lot of time left before our pickup we had to leave early without enjoying this place.

New Years eve

The first thing everyone does on new years eve is eat, so that’s what we did at the night market. We had some ok food, not great, but good enough. After the food we went to the big party where the entire city was headed to. We had a great night and met a lot of great people at the party.

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