Cruising up the Mekong from Luang Prabang to the Golden Triangle

ITINERARY: Luang Prabang – Pakbeng – Houay Xai – Chiang Khong – Chiang Saen – Golden Triangle – Chiang Rai

DURATION: 8 days and 7 nights on the spot

Day 1

Arrival in Luang Prabang (L)

Note: Upon your arrival at Luang Prabang International Airport, it is possible to obtain your visa on arrival (VOA). Simply bring 1 passport picture along with between USD 30 and 45 / person in cash, visa fees varying from one nationality to another. Make sure your passport is valid at least 6 months beyond your return departure date. Visa on Arrival forms are available before immigration counters.

Met and greeted by your Lao English-speaking guide at the arrival hall and transfer to your hotel for check-in.

Lunch at Tamarind restaurant, where you can try the intriguing and fresh new tastes of Lao cuisine.

In the afternoon, head to the top of Mt. Phou Si for panoramic views of the city and the surrounding hills. The mountain is dotted with small shrines and monasteries. The top of Mt. Phou Si is a popular spot to watch the sunset, as the golden spires of nearby Vats are beautifully illuminated.

Once back to ground level, stop at the awakening Hmong minority people Night Market. It is held daily in the streets around the National Museum. Villagers come here to sell their handicrafts.

Accommodation in Luang Prabang.

Day 2

Luang Prabang – Pak Ou Caves – Luang Prabang (B/L)

05h40 – At discretion: Head by Tuk-Tuk to the peninsula to witness and attend alms giving. 06h – Long lines of monks and novices stroll the street of the town center to collect their daily food subsistence from the worshippers. This ancient ritual is locally known as “Tak Bat”.

Continue with a visit to the open-air food market that is held daily in the streets nearby the former Royal Palace. Lao people still like buying fresh food. While fridges are widely spread in households, people prefer going to local markets and returning home with fresh ingredients.

Return to hotel for breakfast.

Morning, visit to The National Museum that used to be the former Royal Palace. Inside the complex of the National Museum, you will see the “Prabang” sacred golden statue, giving its name to the town. Then visit Vat Mai, the former royal temple. TAEC, the Traditional Arts and Ethnology Centre depicts Laos ‘rich ethnic diversity with themed rotating exhibits. It is hosted in a former French colonial times judge’s mansion. The Heritage House being a perfect example of Luang Prabang traditional building made of wood on poles, at the back of Vat Xieng Muane and the beautiful Vat Xieng Thong, one of the most emblematic temples in Laos. It is located at the top of the peninsula, where the Mekong and Nam Khan Rivers meet.

Lunch at “Un Petit Nid”. This 1920’s restored mansion is an enjoyable place in a quiet part of town. The terrace with frangipani trees is pleasant.

Afternoon, Ock Pop Tok dyeing session. The Natural Dyes Class is an introduction to silkworms and silk types. In this class, students have a hands-on experience with natural dye preparation and complete their own color dyes. At the end of class you will take home 3 dyed silk skeins. Many of the natural dyes used are grown in their garden. Just to name but a few colors are turquoise, ochre, golden, ivory, emerald green, etc.

7pm – Head to Hive Bar to attend an “Ethnic Fashion Show” with drinks and snacks. This shows displays 95 different costumes from ethnic minority people inhabiting northern Laos. It is the largest private collection of costumes in Asia. They are worn by young Laotian models willing to showcase the rich diversity their country has to offer.

Accommodation in Luang Prabang

Day 3

Luang Prabang – Kuang Si Waterfall – Luang Prabang (B/L)

Breakfast at the hotel.

In this morning, start your tour with Vat Visoun where you will see the famous Watermelon Stupa, shaped like the fruit it takes its name from. This temple was destroyed in 1887 by the invading Black Flags from China, and was restored in 1930 by Buddhist monks and local people. Vat Aham, where you will see the altar of the 2 geniuses of Luang Prabang.

After that, we head to Kuang Si waterfalls, 32 km south-west of Luang Prabang. Kuang Si is a good place to get more familiar with endemic and it is also possible to hike to the top of the falls via a steep trail, and if the weather is good, you might enjoy a swim in the crystal clear water ponds at the foot of the falls. You will also have the opportunity to visit the Asian Black Bear Rescue Center.

Take your picnic lunch there and enjoy the refreshing views.

On the way back, your guide will take you to some of the nearby ethnic minority villages for a look into Laotian rural life and a chance to interact with the locals.

Return to town and enjoy Petanque games with local residence. Another French legacy here. This balling game is extremely popular with Lao gentlemen. Civil servants and retired people are numerous to gather in the late afternoon and evening to share some happy moments together. Bottles of Beerlao are often around and chit-chat playing with friends is another opportunity to cheer on any occasion!

Rest of the afternoon free at leisure.

Accommodation in Luang Prabang.

Cruising up the Mekong from Luang Prabang to the Golden Triangle

Day 4

Luang Prabang – Pakbeng with Luang Say Cruise (B/L/D)

Early morning, transfer to Luang Say boat’s pier for your cruise up stream on Mekong River to Pakbeng.

Luang Say boat leaves Auberge Calao pier at 7a.m. for cruising up the Mekong River to Luang Say Lodge in Pakbeng. A continental breakfast is served on board. The boat first stops opposite the mouth of the Nam Ou River to visit Pak Ou caves where there are two caves ‘Tham Ting’ and ‘Tham Phoum’ and thousands of Buddha images are found. A buffet lunch is served on board. The second stop is at Ban Baw to observe the processing of the traditional rice alcohol. The boat arrives at Luang Say Lodge before sunset for an overnight stay and a dinner is served on the terrace overlooking the Mekong River.


  • From 1 November to 30 April and 1-31 October, the cruise departs every Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday.
  • From 1 May to 30 September, the cruise departs every Wednesday and Saturday.

Day 5

Pakbeng – Houay Xai with Luang Say Cruise – Chiang Khong – Kiukhan (B/L)

A continental breakfast is served on the terrace from 6a.m. The boat leaves Luang Say Lodge at 7a.m. and one stop is made en route to Houay Xai in order to observe some rural life along the Mekong River at Ban Houy Phalam; a Kamu village. A buffet lunch is served on board. The boat should arrive at the slow boat pier in Houay Xai before 5p.m.

Transfer overland to the Lao-Thai Friendship Bridge. Clearance of the Lao immigration formalities out of the territory. Crossing of the Bridge by van. Clearance of Thai immigration formalities in Chiang Khong, Thailand.

Then, transfer around 30 minutes to Kiukhan, right on the ridge of the “Golden Triangle”.

Check-in and dinner at own expenses.

Overnight in Kiukhan.

Day 6

Golden Triangle area- Chiang Rai (B/L)

Breakfast at hotel.

This morning we will enjoy a visit of the village of Ban Kiukhan to oberve the local daily life. Visit the border between Burma and Thailand at Mae Sai, the northern most point of Thailand, with its the local market displaying times from Burma, China and the different hill tribes. Proceed to Wat Phra That Doi Tung, one of the oldest temples in Thailand, passing by Baan Pah Hi and Akha hill tribe classical villages and Doi Chang Mub.

Lunch box is provided during the visit to the Mae Fah Luang Royal Gardens, enjoying the view of several species of tropical as well as western plants and flowers.

Proceed towards Doi Mae Salong. Stop en route various time to some of the numerous hill tribes still remain their traditional way of life. Drive to Doi Mae Salong, a Chinese mountain settlement. After a short visit, descend from Mae Salong on the main road via Mae Chan to a traditional Akha village. Then, it will be time to head to Chiang Rai for check in at your hotel and free time at leisure.

Transfer to Chiang Rai.

Dinner at own expenses and overnight in Chiang Rai.

Cruising up the Mekong from Luang Prabang to the Golden Triangle

Day 7

Chiang Rai (B/L)

Breakfast at hotel.

Today, we will spend our day to visit Chiang Rai, the ancient Capital of the Lanna Kingdom and its surroundings in order to discover the richness of this region.

Lunch will be served into a local restaurant before heading head southwards to the famous white temple of Vat Rong Khun. This still ongoing construction is dedicated to the current King by a local artist and aims to reproduce the purity of the Buddhism.

Dinner at own expenses and overnight in Chiang Rai.

Day 8

Chiang Saen - Chiang Rai - Departure (B)

Breakfast at the hotel and free time at leisure till your transfer to Chiang Rai airport for your onward flight.

End of services.

Each program is absolutely customizable in terms of duration, itinerary, stops, types of accommodation, inclusions and activities. Anything actually! In line with your wishes and budget constraints.