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Laos River Cruises 2024/2025

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Laos Travel Guide

Set Sail on a Laos river cruise, and you'll discover a world where time seems to stand still. Gliding along the Mekong, the lifeline of Laos, this cruise takes you through lush landscapes, remote villages, and historic cities like Luang Prabang, a UNESCO World Heritage site. What's unique about a Laos river cruise? It's the opportunity to see the untouched beauty of Southeast Asia. You'll encounter stunning natural wonders like the Pak Ou Caves, filled with thousands of Buddha statues, and witness the traditional way of life in riverside communities. Laos river cruises offer a peaceful journey away from the hustle and bustle, where the rich culture, history, and natural beauty of the country unfold before you in a serene, almost mystical way. With river cruise volume buys plus our low everyday prices you can save up to 50% versus the brochure price! Book your Laos river cruise today with AffordableTours.com, your discounted river cruise headquarters.

Laos Travel Guide
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Sail Date Operator Ship Departs Returns Length Price
Apr 28, 2024ScenicScenic SpiritHo Chi Minh CityBangkok18$14,365
Oct 06, 2024ScenicScenic SpiritHo Chi Minh CityBangkok18$20,080
Feb 21, 2025ScenicScenic SpiritHanoiBangkok25$22,400
Mar 02, 2025ScenicScenic SpiritHo Chi Minh CityBangkok16$18,405
Mar 21, 2025ScenicScenic SpiritHanoiBangkok27$21,575
Mar 30, 2025ScenicScenic SpiritHo Chi Minh CityBangkok18$17,580
Apr 04, 2025ScenicScenic SpiritHanoiBangkok25$35,875
Apr 13, 2025ScenicScenic SpiritHo Chi Minh CityBangkok16$16,705
May 02, 2025ScenicScenic SpiritHanoiBangkok25$17,200
May 11, 2025ScenicScenic SpiritHo Chi Minh CityBangkok16$13,205
Oct 17, 2025ScenicScenic SpiritHanoiBangkok27$21,175
Oct 26, 2025ScenicScenic SpiritHo Chi Minh CityBangkok18$17,180
Nov 14, 2025ScenicScenic SpiritHanoiBangkok25$20,300
Nov 23, 2025ScenicScenic SpiritHo Chi Minh CityBangkok16$16,305
Jan 02, 2026ScenicScenic SpiritHanoiBangkok25$19,700
Jan 11, 2026ScenicScenic SpiritHo Chi Minh CityBangkok16$15,705
Jan 30, 2026ScenicScenic SpiritHanoiBangkok25$19,700
Feb 08, 2026ScenicScenic SpiritHo Chi Minh CityBangkok16$15,705
Feb 13, 2026ScenicScenic SpiritHanoiBangkok27$20,575
Feb 22, 2026ScenicScenic SpiritHo Chi Minh CityBangkok18$16,580
Feb 27, 2026ScenicScenic SpiritHanoiBangkok25$18,900
Mar 08, 2026ScenicScenic SpiritHo Chi Minh CityBangkok16$14,905
Mar 13, 2026ScenicScenic SpiritHanoiBangkok27$19,775
Mar 22, 2026ScenicScenic SpiritHo Chi Minh CityBangkok18$15,780
Apr 10, 2026ScenicScenic SpiritHanoiBangkok25$18,000
Apr 19, 2026ScenicScenic SpiritHo Chi Minh CityBangkok16$14,005
May 08, 2026ScenicScenic SpiritHanoiBangkok25$17,200
May 17, 2026ScenicScenic SpiritHo Chi Minh CityBangkok16$13,205

Laos Travel Guide

Laos River Cruises Highlights

  • Luang Prabang: Luang Prabang, often the starting point of the cruise, is a UNESCO World Heritage site renowned for its well-preserved architectural, religious, and cultural heritage. The port is conveniently located near the city center, offering easy access to significant landmarks like the Royal Palace Museum and the famous Wat Xieng Thong temple. The night markets and the serene atmosphere of the Mekong River's banks add to the city's charm.
  • Royal Palace Museum (Luang Prabang): This former royal palace now serves as a museum, showcasing Laos's history and royal artifacts. It's a beautiful example of traditional Lao architecture.
  • Wat Xieng Thong (Luang Prabang): One of the most important monasteries in Laos, known for its intricate mosaics and classical Laotian architecture. It's a key site for understanding Lao religious practices.
  • Mount Phousi (Luang Prabang): A climb to the top of this hill offers panoramic views of Luang Prabang and the Mekong River, especially stunning at sunset.
  • Kuang Si Falls (Near Luang Prabang): A breathtakingly beautiful waterfall with turquoise pools, perfect for swimming and enjoying nature.
  • Pakbeng: A common overnight stop, Pakbeng offers a glimpse into rural Laotian life. The port is small and rustic, reflecting the town's laid-back nature. Visitors can explore local markets, meet friendly locals, and enjoy the scenic views of the Mekong.
  • Elephant Conservation Center (Near Pakbeng): Offers an opportunity to learn about and interact with elephants in a responsible and ethical environment.
  • Pak Ou Caves: Near the confluence of the Mekong and Ou rivers, the Pak Ou Caves are a highlight of any Laos river cruise. These caves, filled with thousands of Buddha statues, are a testament to the spiritual heritage of Laos. The port area here serves as a gateway to this sacred site.
  • Ban Xang Hai: Also known as the 'Whiskey Village,' Ban Xang Hai is famous for its production of Lao Lao, a traditional rice whiskey. The port allows visitors to explore this small village, learn about local crafts, and sample the unique whiskey.

Laos River Cruises Travel Tips

  • The currency in Laos is the Lao Kip, and while some places accept Thai Baht or US Dollars, it's best to have local currency for small purchases. Credit cards may not be widely accepted outside major cities, so carrying cash is advisable.
  • Pack lightweight and breathable clothing is ideal due to the warm, tropical climate. Include long-sleeved shirts and long pants for temple visits, respecting local customs.
  • Comfortable walking shoes are a must for exploring towns and archaeological sites.
  • Don't forget a hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen for protection against the sun, as well as insect repellent. Bring a camera to capture the scenic beauty and a power adapter for charging your devices.

Laos River Cruises Things To Do

  • Vientiane

    As the capital of Laos, Vientiane boasts a mix of Buddhist temples and French-colonial buildings. One of the main temples you will want to see is the Pha That Luang, a gold-covered pinnacled temple built in the 16th century, which serves as the country's national symbol. Take a relaxing stroll along tree-lined streets on your way to landmarks, such as the Wat Si Saket, which displays thousands of Buddha images, and the Patuxai Victory Gate, a large concrete arch, which resembles the Arch de Triumph in Paris.

    Best Time To Visit

    Visit Vientiane from November to February when the climate is more temperate and milder.


    You Should Know

    The Patuxai Victory Gate displays both Hindu gods and Buddhist symbology. The structure includes 5 elaborate towers built in the Laotian architectural style. You can climb the landmark's spiral staircase and view the sunset and city from its observation deck. A famous Khmer temple in Vientiane is Wat Si Muang, colored red and gold. The temple serves Buddhists in Vientiane and features several vendor stalls that display goods, such as incense and candles for offerings as well as bananas and coconuts.
  • Pak Lai
    Pak Lai

    Located in Sainyabuli Province, Pak Lai sits in west Laos and is one of the popular Laotian tourist attractions. Not only can you walk in the rainforest from this location, but you can also ride one on one of the area's elephants.

    Best Time To Visit

    The town hosts the largest elephant festival in Southeast Asia in February, which makes it a good time to visit the attraction.


    You Should Know

    Visit the Buddhist temple of Wat Sisavang, which highlights an ornate gateway and bell tower. The town's bustling marketplace is a great place to find unique items and watch the hub-bub of activity. The Phouy National Biodiversity Conservation Area is home to a large population of wild elephants.
  • Xanyaburi Hyrdro Electric Power Plant and Dam
    Xanyaburi Hyrdro Electric Power Plant and Dam

    The Xayaburi Dam is a hydroelectric dam situated on the lower Mekong River, east of Sainyabuli, in northern Laos. The main reason for the building of the dam is to provide hydroelectric power for the area. However, the dam has been a source of complaints from riparian naturalists. Some environmentalists complain that the presence of the dam reduces the number of available fish, which are used as staples in the diets of locals.

    Best Time To Visit

    This attraction is best seen anytime between November and February.


    You Should Know

    The hydroelectric plant is designed to generate 1,285 megawatts of power. The dam and plant started generating and distributing power from the first generating unit in April 2019. It is now a local attraction on Laos Mekong River cruises.
  • Ban Muang Kai Village
    Ban Muang Kai Village

    Ban Muang Kai Village is an ideal place to see village life up-close as well as visit the Laos Buffalo Dairy Farm. Another sight not to be missed is Kuang Si Waterfalls, noted for its cascading turquoise waters. Hiking is a pleasure on a sunny day in the surrounding national park.

    Best Time To Visit

    Set your travel itinerary for November through February – a time which is much less muddy to walk or hike.


    You Should Know

    The Laos Buffalo Dairy Farm is unique, as Laos does not support the dairy industry. Therefore, most locals have never seen buffalo or any cow being milked. Owners of the dairy rent buffalo from villagers at six-month periods, milking, feeding, caring, and vaccinating mother and calf before they return the animals to the villagers. If you visit the Kuang Si Waterfalls, hiking time from the bottom to the top, or one-way, up is about 20 minutes. About an hour overall if you include the return trip down from the falls. If you have mobility or fitness issues, you should not attempt this activity.
  • Muang Keo Village
    Muang Keo Village

    If you want to really experience Laotian village life, you won't be disappointed when you visit Muang Keo Village, which is a short distance upriver from the Pak Ou caves. Geographically, the village lies close to the Mekong and Nam Ou rivers, which, in turn, gives locals the ability to earn a living at fishing.

    Best Time To Visit

    Plan on visiting Muang Keo Village from November to February, when the weather is warm and less humid.


    You Should Know

    Villagers rely primarily on agriculture and fishing. The fronts of local homes feature weaving looms along the single street village. Both women and children sell small trinkets and textiles. Holding true to tradition, the Lao village features plenty of cats, rooster, pigs, and dogs running through the area. Local Lao Lao whiskey is made in the village.
  • Pak Ou Caves
    Pak Ou Caves

    You cannot take a river cruise up the Mekong in Laos without visiting the Pak Ou Caves, whose history dates back thousands of years. Serving as a home to 4,000+ Buddha icons, the caverns sit back in the recess of an imposing limestone cliff where the Nam Ou and Mekong rivers meet. You can view two caves – the Tham Ting, a lower cave, and Tham Theung, an upper cave. Both caves honor the Lord Buddha and the river spirit.

    Best Time To Visit

    Visit the caves anytime between November and February, or after the monsoon season lets up. The place is quite busy during April or the Lao New Year. At that time, the local people wash and polish the Buddha images.


    You Should Know

    The Buddha icons in the cave assume various positions – including meditative, peaceful, and nirvana (reclining). The statues in the caves are believed to have been left by people who lived in the area hundreds of years ago. Locals prefer to burn incense and pray in the lower cave of Tham Ting. You will need to carry a flashlight to visit the pitch-black upper cave of Tham Theung. The cave holds most of the Buddha statues.
  • Ban Xang Hai Village
    Ban Xang Hai Village

    Ban Xang Hai, which is located north of Luang Prabang, is known for the making of Lao-Lao, a rice whiskey that is only second in popularity to the country's BeerLao. River cruises to Laos often include a visit to Ban Xang Hai as part of a trip to Pak Ou Cave.

    Best Time To Visit

    Plan a trip to Ban Xang Hai in November, after the monsoon rains have come and gone.


    You Should Know

    Lao-Lao, or rice whiskey, is an integral part of Laos's culture. It is used during blessing ceremonies. The whiskey in the village is still made in a traditional and rudimentary way. Pottery is used from Ban Chan village, which lies downriver from Luang Prabang, with the earthenware and its ingredients placed over an open fire.
  • Luang Prabang
    Luang Prabang

    There is something for everyone in Luang Prabang, an ancient town that has been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Located in northern Laos, the town, which is surrounded by mountains, sits at the meeting point of the Mekong and Nam Khan rivers. 

    Best Time To Visit

    A visit to Luang Prabang is best planned during November or December if you want to stay cooler and drier.


    You Should Know

    You can see all aspects of Laotian culture when visiting Luang Prabang. Not only can you observe traditional wood homes, but you can also see royal buildings and examples of colonial architecture. The town is home to 30+ vat, or Buddhist shrines. At 328 feet or 100 meters high, Mount Phousi represents the town's highest hill. You can reach the top by climbing around 300 steps. Take another set of steps down the hill to visit several temples, including Wat Chomsi, where flowers are sold for blessings.

Laos River Cruise Packages

  • Getting There

    Beginning your Laos river cruise adventure is a journey in itself. Most cruises start in the city of Luang Prabang, nestled along the Mekong River. Luang Prabang International Airport is well-connected with flights from major cities in Southeast Asia, making it an accessible starting point for your cruise. From the airport, a short drive takes you to the city, where the cruise ports are conveniently located along the riverbank. These ports are typically close to the city center, allowing easy exploration of Luang Prabang's cultural landmarks before you set sail. The Mekong River's accessibility and the central location of the ports in Luang Prabang make the start of your Laos river cruise both convenient and exciting, as you're quickly immersed in the rich cultural and natural beauty of the region.

  • The Perfect Time for a Laos River Cruise

    A Laos river cruise, particularly along the majestic Mekong River, offers an unforgettable experience, with the timing of your journey playing a crucial role. The dry season, from November to February, is considered the ideal period for such a cruise in Laos. During these months, the weather is relatively cooler and more comfortable, with temperatures typically ranging between 15°C to 30°C (59°F to 86°F). This cooler climate is perfect for cruising along the Mekong River and exploring the various stops, as you'll avoid the discomfort of excessive heat or heavy rainfall.

    The period from November to February also aligns with Laos' peak tourist season. While this means enjoying the best weather conditions for river cruising, it also translates to encountering more travelers and experiencing busier sites along the river. For those seeking a more tranquil river cruising experience in Laos with fewer tourists, the shoulder months of October or March are excellent choices. These months represent a transitional period in terms of weather, yet they often provide many delightful days suitable for river cruising. Additionally, cruising during these shoulder months can offer the advantages of fewer crowds and potentially more attractive pricing.

    Regardless of the specific month chosen, a river cruise in Laos promises a remarkable journey that combines cultural discovery with the serene beauty of the country's natural landscapes. Whether in the peak or shoulder season, river cruising in Laos provides a unique opportunity to immerse oneself in the rich cultural tapestry and scenic splendor of this enchanting country.

  • Experience the Flavors of Laos

    Experiencing the flavors of Laos is a highlight of any river cruise in this vibrant country. Lao cuisine is known for its fresh ingredients, bold flavors, and unique dishes. A must-try is "Laap" (or Larb), a traditional Lao salad made with minced meat, herbs, and spices, often considered the national dish. Another staple is "Sticky Rice," typically served with most meals and eaten by hand.

    "Tam Mak Hoong," a spicy green papaya salad, is popular among locals and visitors alike. For soup lovers, "Khao Piak Sen" is a comforting noodle soup, perfect for any time of the day. Don't forget to try "Sai Oua," a flavorful Lao sausage, and "Mok Pa," a fish dish steamed in banana leaves with aromatic herbs.

    In terms of drinks, Beerlao is the national beer and is widely enjoyed. For a non-alcoholic option, Lao coffee, particularly from the Bolaven Plateau, is rich and robust, often served iced with sweetened condensed milk.

    For dining, river cruises offer onboard meals featuring Lao cuisine, but exploring local eateries in Luang Prabang or small riverside villages enhances the culinary experience. Night markets are also great places to sample a variety of dishes and immerse yourself in the local food culture. Each meal is an opportunity to explore the diverse and flavorful cuisine of Laos.

  • Immerse Yourself in Laos Culture

    Immersing in Laos culture, you'll find a world steeped in tradition and spirituality. Respect for elders and Buddhism deeply influences daily life. The Baci ceremony, a ritual to celebrate important events, is a beautiful display of Lao customs.

    Festivals are a vibrant part of life. The most famous is Pi Mai, the Lao New Year, marked by water fights, parades, and religious ceremonies. Another significant festival is Boun Pha That Luang, a Buddhist festival held in Vientiane with processions, music, and dancing.

    Visiting temples and participating in the alms-giving ceremony in Luang Prabang offers insight into the spiritual side of Laos. While interacting with locals, simple gestures like removing shoes before entering homes and temples and greeting with a "nop" (a slight bow with hands pressed together) show respect for local customs.

  • Why Book a Laos River Cruise?

    Booking a river cruise in Laos offers a unique and enriching way to explore this Southeast Asian gem. Cruising along the Mekong River, you're treated to a perspective of Laos that combines ease of travel with deep cultural immersion. One of the major advantages is the convenience - your floating hotel navigates through the heart of the country, allowing you to experience a variety of landscapes and communities without the hassle of packing and unpacking. This approach also provides great value for money as accommodations, transportation, and often meals and guided tours are included in the package. River cruises in Laos often offer exclusive access to remote areas and activities not easily accessible by road, such as small riverside villages and hidden temples, giving you a more authentic and intimate experience of Laotian life. You can enjoy the leisurely pace of the cruise, soaking in stunning river views and experiencing the tranquility of life along the Mekong. This mode of travel offers a blend of relaxation, adventure, and cultural discovery, making a Laos river cruise an ideal choice for those looking to explore the unique beauty and rich heritage of Laos.

  • Ready to Book Your Laos River Cruise?

    Are you ready for an unforgettable journey? A Laos river cruise offers a unique opportunity to explore the heart of this enchanting country from the serene waters of the Mekong. As you meander through lush landscapes and ancient cities, each day brings new adventures and insights into Laos's rich culture and history. Experience the tranquility of riverside life, the spirituality of centuries-old temples, and the warm hospitality of the Lao people. Enjoy the flavors of traditional cuisine, witness the simplicity of rural life, and discover hidden gems far from the usual tourist paths. This cruise isn't just a vacation; it's a window into a world of timeless beauty and enduring traditions.

    So why wait? Book your Laos river cruise now and embark on a journey that promises both relaxation and discovery in one of Southeast Asia's most captivating destinations.

Laos River Cruises Frequently Asked Questions

  • What Are Laos River Cruises?

    Laos river cruises usually consist of seven to nine-day river cruises that begin in the Laos capital of Vientiane and end in the popular town of Luang Prang. They are normally featured from November through February or the dry part of the year. Enjoy luxury accommodations, all your meals, and regular off-shore excursions when taking one of these river cruises.

  • What Is Included on Laos River Cruises?

    Laos river cruises allow you to see Laos up-close, with many of the stops made outside of villages that include trips to natural sights, such as waterfalls or caves. Your river cruise includes all tips, access to Wi-Fi, three meals per day, and Laotian cultural entertainment and activities.

  • What’s the Best River Cruise of Laos River Cruises?

    The best river cruise through Laos is the one that meets your interests and allows you to participate in activities that are a regular part of the itinerary. Not only can you experience Laotian history and culture firsthand, but you can also learn more about how locals live. Some of the top river cruise providers who offer river cruises through Laos, or on the Mekong River, including well-known river cruise trip providers, such as Avalon Waterways.

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