Last month, WIT Agent Wailana traveled with our preferred vendor Vexplore Tours through Thailand and Laos. This month we are posting sections from her journal–read on for her insider tips!
In case you missed Part Three on Luang Prabang, click here to read it.
The next morning we embarked and sailed north of Luang Prabang on the Mekong River. This river cruise was truly a unique experience.
Our ship, the Mekong Sun, was a midsize riverboat with 16 crew and 14 cabins. The Sun typically sails 3, 6, or 8 days from Luang Prabang, though there is the impressive 10-day to Chiang Saen or 12-day to Vientiane cruises.
The ship moves at a leisurely pace, so that you might hardly notice the current at all. Like all water traffic on the Mekong, the Sun does not travel during the night due to riparian flotsam and jetsam. Breakfast is Western, lunch is Western/Asian mix buffet, Asian set meals for dinner with some limited choices for drinks. If you’re brave, try lao lao—distilled Lao moonshine served in shot glasses—or any of the delicious South American or French wines.
While I was onboard, passengers were a mix of Germans, Austrians, Swiss, Americans, Thai, and one journalist from Hong Kong. There’s ample space onboard—you never feel too crowded with an open-air sun deck and a shaded dining area—however, there’s no A/C anywhere except in the cabins, so travelers during the humid months (summertime) be aware!
Three days on the Mekong is a good amount of time—the first night is docked at Luang Prabang, followed by a morning food market visit and afternoon sail up to the Pak Ou Caves. On the third day, passengers can visit a few villages along the riverside and top it all off with a splendid BBQ dinner on a sandy beach.
The marvelous cruise director Ben leads the shore excursions to the villages and serves as a facilitator between the crew and the passengers. He even shares meals with the guests and one evening on the cruise he does an hour presentation on Lao culture and history.
I think the ship would have benefitted with a bit more on-ship activities in the lazy afternoons—tai chi or yoga for example. One afternoon the chef did hold a cooking demonstration on Lao cuisine.
The Mekong Sun – Just the Facts, Sir
- Built in Laos in 2006
• 2 decks with 11 classic cabins on the main deck (12 m²/129 sq ft), all facing out onto the water and with wide sliding windows with a French balcony providing a fantastic view of the passing landscapes
• 3 superior cabins, one in the bow of the main deck (16 m²/172 sq ft), two on the upper deck (18 m²/194 sq ft). The two cabins on the upper deck have their own small private balcony; the one in the bow has a superb panoramic view to the front
• All cabins with en-suite shower/WC and air-conditioning
• Large sun deck with bar service and restaurant/bar area
• All guided offshore excursions and meals are included
- Catamaran, two steel hulls, two decks, with teak and mahogany superstructure
• Weight: approx. 100 tons
• Length: 40 m
• Width: 7,5 m (at its widest part)
• Depth: approx. 0,9 m
• Two diesel motors with 550 hp each
• Fire alarm
• Crew: 16
• Construction completed in 2006