Monday, January 25, 2010

The Slow Boat to Laos

Three days ago, we made it to Laos, the third country on our trip across South East Asia and all I have to say so far is – WOW, Laos is beautiful.
But, I’m getting a head of myself here.

Getting into Laos was a relatively simple affair. The night before our border crossing, we took a relatively painless 7-hour bus ride to the Thai – Laos boarder along the Mekong River.

a view of Laos across the Mekong River, from our last guest house in Thailand

So when we woke up in the morning, it was just a matter of a 3 minute ferry ride across the river and there we were – in a new country!

It wasn’t until we were through customs, and had some new nifty visas secured in our passports, that our real trial began. In order to get to our first stop in Laos, Luang Prabang, we had to endure a two-day boat ride down the Mekong River on what is called the “slow boat.”

In my mind, I had pictured something like a ferry filled with mostly Lao people along with some falang, or foreigners, scattered about. But I should have known anything this expensive could not have been a form of public transportation (it cost about $30 USD).

In reality it was a very small boat filled to the brim with foreign tourists – we were stuffed together like sardines in there!

The first day was especially rough because the only seats available on our boat were small wooden benches – like those built for school children when we still had one room school houses. The seat backs were at best 90 degrees from the seat and made it virtually impossible to even approach a comfortable seating arrangement. Needless to say, Nick and I sharing one of these benches for 6 hours straight was less than ideal.

Thankfully we had our books and the beautiful scenery of the Mekong River to distract us.

As we slowly made our way down to Luang Prabang, the Mekong meandered through the countryside, winding through lush green mountains with huge rocks jutting out of the water at unpredictable intervals. Each time I looked up from my book, I was met with spectacular scenery.

The second day we arrived early and were lucky enough to get comfortable leather captains’ chairs – which made the 8 hour ride much more enjoyable. Finally, just as the sun was setting on Sunday night, after three days of travelling, we made it to our destination, Luang Prabang.

Who knows what wonders await us here in Laos, but from what I saw on our way down the river, I have a feeling we won’t be disappointed.


  1. laos,to me,is the jewel of s/e asia.the scenery,the gentle,happy lao people,the slow pace.........enjoy!!

  2. Hi this is a good blog
    My company also run Mekong River Cruise on the Mekong River from Huay Xai ,Pakbeng to Luang Prabang

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