A unique Southeast Asian travel adventure, Laos river cruises normally traverse the Mekong River and take river cruise travelers to the Golden Triangle of Burma, Thailand, and Laos. Along the way, you will fully immerse yourself in the scenic beauty of the river-scape while seeing villages and the area's wildlife up-close. These river cruises allow you to explore ports, such as Vientiane, the Laos capital, and Luang Prabang, noted for its monasteries with their intricate and dazzling wood carvings. Travel deep into the jungles and visit countryside villages as well. 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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Laos Travel Guide
Laos River Cruises Highlights
- Luxury accommodations and personalized service during the river cruise and for land programs
- Wi-Fi and Internet access
- Onboard dining, including breakfast, lunch, and dinner
- Complimentary beverages
- Captain's welcome cocktails and dinner
- Daily entertainment, including performances popular to the area
- Crew gratuities and onboard tips
- Embarkation from Vientiane, Laos's capital and largest city
- A stopover at Luang Prabang, the country's royal capital until 1975
- Sandwiches and snacks, featured in the ship's Main Lounge each day
Laos River Cruises Travel Tips
- Because you will be traveling in the Mekong region, it is best to take one of the Laos river cruises from November to February. At this time, the monsoon rains have subsided, and the temperatures are not as stifling hot.
- Pack casual or relaxed wear for your river cruise holiday, including t-shirts, tank tops, lightweight slacks, shorts, and long-sleeved lightweight blouses or shirts. The onboard atmosphere on these river cruise holidays is usually extremely casual.
- When visiting Laos villages, always wear closed-toed shoes.
- Internet or Wi-Fi may be spotty during your time onboard the ship, so be prepared for some outages. Bring some reading material to compensate for the lack of a connection.
- Consult with your doctor about vaccinations before your trip. Usually, you will need to be inoculated for hepatitis and typhoid, and get a prescription for malaria medication.
- Never travel to places, such as Laos, without some Xifaxan in tow – a medicine that eases traveler's diarrhea.
- For upper respiratory infections, make sure you are carrying a Z-Pak or Zithromax in your bag.
- Walking to villages may mean trekking over steep and muddy hills, and over vines. If that type of climbing will present an issue, you will need to find another river cruise to take.
Laos River Cruises Things To Do
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 VisitVisit Vientiane from November to February when the climate is more temperate and milder.
You Should KnowThe 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
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 VisitThe town hosts the largest elephant festival in Southeast Asia in February, which makes it a good time to visit the attraction.
You Should KnowVisit 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
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 VisitThis attraction is best seen anytime between November and February.
You Should KnowThe 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 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 VisitSet your travel itinerary for November through February – a time which is much less muddy to walk or hike.
You Should KnowThe 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
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 VisitPlan on visiting Muang Keo Village from November to February, when the weather is warm and less humid.
You Should KnowVillagers 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
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 VisitVisit 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 KnowThe 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, 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 VisitPlan a trip to Ban Xang Hai in November, after the monsoon rains have come and gone.
You Should KnowLao-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
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 VisitA visit to Luang Prabang is best planned during November or December if you want to stay cooler and drier.
You Should KnowYou 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
You just have to remember that, in this part of Southeast Asia, the temperatures can range between 74 degrees and 89 degrees Fahrenheit (23 degrees to 32 degrees Celsius). As a result of the tropical climate and monsoon period, the seasons are either considered damp or dry.
- Dry Season - October to April
Most Laos river cruises are best taken from November through February after the monsoon rains have visited the area. During this time, the temperatures are not quite as damp or sweltering, thereby making it easier to hike and take off-board excursions.
- Rainy Season - May to September
If you do choose to go when it is rainier, you may venture deeper into the flooded rainforests and view village life in a whole different way. While it normally rains every day during the wet season, the rain comes in heavy but short spurts in the afternoon. To save money on a river cruise holiday, you may prefer to go during this season.
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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