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Laotian Serendipity

Vientiane to Huay Xai - Example 10 Day Cruise aboard Anouvong
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This 9-Night itinerary offers enjoyable leisure sailing northbound through secluded areas. See isolated local riverside villages and witness how the residents’ daily life unfolds, experience long-standing cultures and traditions, and enjoy active adventures as well as the enchanting laid-back life on board vibe – all while indulging in luxury aboard Heritage Line’s Anouvong. A full sightseeing of Luang Prabang is included in this cruise.
Highlights
  • Learn about the culture and life of the locals along the river with an expert guide
  • Cruise upstream along the Mighty Mekong River aboard a luxurious riverboat
  • Discover ancient Luang Prabang, a unique World Heritage Site
  • Go for a dip in the turquoise waters of the Kuang Si waterfalls
  • Hike the jungle of Ban Khok Kham with local expert guide
Places Visited
  • Asia
  • Laos
  • Southeast Asia
  • Ban Khok Aek
  • Ban Khok Kham
  • Huay Xai
  • Khok Akha
  • Luang Prabang
  • Pak Beng
  • Pak Lay
  • Pak Ngui
  • Phalat
  • Vientiane
Activity Level: Variable
Activity options vary depending on destination and operator. Activity level is determined by the range and intensity of activities you choose to participate in. Discuss with your Trip Planner which options are best for you.
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Full Itinerary

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Day 1: Vientiane | Embark

In the early morning, Heritage Line will greet you directly at the ship, docked at the pier in Vientiane (not far from the city center; please see the location and time details in the embarkation guide provided pre-departure). The team will assist with your check-in, take care of your luggage, and bring you directly to your room. Upon check-in, get acquainted with the ship and settle into your cabin as you start your journey. The ship will sail from Vientiane on a leisurely journey through the Laotian upper Mekong.

Today is a full-day sailing, and let your mind wander while traveling slowly through the hinterland countryside. A brunch is available in the late morning and over noon, and you can dine alfresco on the terrace deck or inside the lounge, depending on your preference. In the afternoon, the local expert guide presents a lecture on the history of Lao royalty, focusing on King Anouvong, the ship's namesake. Just relax in your room or the comfortable public lounge and bar area until the ship reaches its first overnight stop. You may like to opt for a wellness treatment in our tucked-away spa area.

The dinner is served in the elegant De-Lagree Dining Hall tonight. Afterward, while some time away in the lounge, or join the cinema under the stars on the open terrace deck.

Day 2: Phalat Village

Wake up early to catch your first sunrise in Laos on the Mekong River. Early birds are welcome to join the daily morning exercise on the terrace deck (Tai Chi or Yoga). There is no better backdrop than the stunning river scenery to do some revitalizing morning exercise to start the day. A wonderful and energetic open-air activity every day around sunrise.

After some hours, stop at Phalat Village, a small hamlet that looks over the Mekong, right in Thailand. By local means of transportation, “Tok Tok” will drive you to a nearby chopstick factory. Learn about how chopsticks become perfectly round and have the same dimensions.

The ship travels along the Thai-Lao border, and a large Buddha will greet you from the opposite shore. After lunch onboard, the ship sails through an area where the Mekong is very calm and shallow, with many small sandy islands along its shoreline. This area is ideal for exploring the river by kayak on your own.

The ship will moor this evening at a sandbank in the middle of Laos, allowing for the opportunity to treat you to a culinary event. Leave the ship to set foot on one of the deserted islands surrounded by the river. Enjoy an aperitivo during sunset and get ready for an unforgettable long-table dining experience, festively set up mid-river in the middle of nowhere. Afterward, you may like to continue enjoying the outdoors with our open-air cinema on the terrace deck, where you can watch a popular classic movie.

Day 3: Pak Lay | Don Saynhan Village

The morning hours are free as the ship meanders upstream, giving you time to observe life on and off the shores. The ship will shortly pass Pak Lay on the west bank. To the west of Pak Lay lies the Nam Phouy National Biodiversity Conservation Area (10–15 km from the river), home to the largest wild population of elephants in Laos. Despite its small size, Pak Lay is the last sizeable town with access to a national road along the Mekong River until we reach Luang Prabang two days and nearly 200 km later.

In the afternoon, the ship will stop at Don Saynhan village to take a short local “Tuk Tuk” ride to visit the so-called Khao Cave. The cave has been home to a large bat population for many generations and supplies the village with potent fertilizer. You can venture inside and discover the stalagmites and stalactites.

The ship will continue cruising to find a quiet area for a mooring for the night. If the weather permits, the dinner will be served al fresco on the terrace.

Day 4: Khok Akha Village

The day begins in the morning with Tai Chi, Yoga, or simply sleeping in your room until the sun gently wakes you up. Anouvong sails further north, towards the famous hydroelectric power plant. During the morning hours, attend a lecture about the role of energy in Laos' economy and how the country is set to become the battery of Southeast Asia. After lunch, you can choose between two excursions or activities:

Set out in a long-tail boat and go on an exploratory and adventurous joyride upstream through the lush jungle along the remote, beautiful Nam Fuang River. The local guide will explain some facts about the jungle life of the local tribes in this area. Alternatively, you may stroll through the small village of Khok Akha, sitting right on the riverside plateau. Lao Loum, or lowland Laotians, are the majority of the village's population. They primarily rely on farming rice, fishing, and selling wood to make a living. The elevated location of the village allows for some great views of the meandering Mekong and some great photos to take home.

Eventually, in the late afternoon, you will arrive at the Xayaburi Hydroelectric Dam. The ship slowly passes through two ship locks, bringing the vessel up by about 30 meters. You also have the chance to discover this enormous structure during a short guided tour.

The vessel moors tonight in a quiet corner of the river, some kilometers upstream from the dam.

Day 5: Luang Prabang

The morning is again entirely at your own pace. Enjoy a relaxed and extended breakfast as you look out over the beautiful Mekong River. While away the time on the terrace or in the lounge with a good book and coffee.

The ship will set out for today’s sightseeing and pay a visit to an innovative and socially responsible Lao Buffalo Dairy Farm in the early afternoon. Despite having almost no dairy products a few decades ago, these milk-based products have grown in popularity in Asia, including Laos, in recent years. It is interesting to see how various dairy products, such as cheese, ice cream, and yogurt, are made locally and distributed to local markets. Continue to visit a breathtaking sight in the area, the cascading Kuang Si waterfall with its rushing turquoise waters. It is a pleasure to hike leisurely through the surrounding natural park, and if you like, you can also refresh yourself with a swim in the natural pools of water at the waterfall’s base. So refreshing!

Back on board, the ship sails towards Luang Prabang, where you arrive in the enchanting town in the early evening. After dinner, you may like to have a first look at the mesmerizing charm of this old town by a promenade through the small streets by yourself.

Day 6: Luang Prabang

After breakfast, explore one of Southeast Asia’s most unique and charming cities, Luang Prabang. Head out for a walking tour to discover ancient Luang Prabang (almost flat terrain; easy walking, tour duration of about 3.5 hours, including refreshment stops).

In celebration of the 20th UNESCO Anniversary, a book was published that highlighted the numberless aspects of this unique World Heritage Site. The “off the beaten track” guided walking tour explores the old town and its peninsula, where the Mekong and Nam Khan Rivers meet. See Luang Prabang’s distinct architecture and hear stories about the houses and the places you pass. Stroll along the crisscross of small roads and streets lined with antique structures and mango trees. Admire some of the hundred-year-old Lao-style buildings that brim with a bygone-era atmosphere. One of the houses, the Lamache, was once home to noble families and later was the appointed ice cream supplier to the royal family. There is no better place to enjoy a “Lao Tea Break” with Lao coffee or herbal tea, traditional snacks, and artisan ice cream.

Return to the vessel for lunch and refreshments before continuing the afternoon on your discovery of Luang Prabang. Visit the former Royal Palace, now the National Museum, in the afternoon. The museum displays interesting local art and other exhibits that used to belong to the Lao royal family. After the museum tour, enjoy your free time by walking around the small city center, picking one of the inviting street cafés, and enjoying the laid-back atmosphere before returning to the ship.

In the early evening, join in a sunset aperitif on the terrace deck, accompanied by a classical local dance or music performance. Afterward,  leave the vessel for an evening out, dining in one of the city’s fine venues for a distinctively Lao-style ambiance. After dinner, explore the night market for the rest of your evening or get back on board to rest.

Day 7: Luang Prabang | Ban Khok Kham

For the very early risers, the crew has a special treat today. Before the daylight basks the town in warm golden tones, the morning alms round, referred to as “Tak Bat” in Lao, is a traditional spiritual Buddhist event where hundreds of saffron-robed monks walk along the streets. After the almsgiving, stroll the market and watch the town spring to life before returning to the ship in time for breakfast. This morning you will meet Mr. Francis Engelmann, who used to work for UNESCO on heritage preservation projects. Born in Paris in 1947, he has lived in Laos for over 20 years. Join his fantastic presentation, in which he shares some of his expertise on the country’s rich cultural heritage and fascinating history.

After arriving at the confluence of the Mekong and one of its larger tributaries, an optional kayak tour on the Nam Ou River is offered for adventurous guests. Hop in a kayak and feel the river carry you downstream with almost no effort while enjoying the natural beauty.

Explore the famous Pak Ou Caves, located directly on the Mekong’s rocky shore and opposite the mouth of the Ou River. Two limestone grottoes have approximately 4,000 sacred Buddhist statues and images, ranging in size from mere centimeters to 2 m (7 ft) in height. Once you arrive at the lower, more impressive cave, head up the stairs (approximately 200 steps) to the smaller chamber.

Meet a local “medicine man” from the nearby village. Take a small trek leading into the jungle while the local expert explains various things about the flora and nature in the area. Once you arrive in the village, you can see households with traditional weaving and the art of the local whisky distillery. (Kindly note a basic fitness level is required for approx. 45 min a trek, relatively easy walking downhill with some short uphill terrain. Guests can also skip the hike and return to the ship moored in front of the Pak Ou caves.)

The journey takes you further up the river and into the golden evening sun. If you arrive in daylight, you have time to stroll through another gem of a local village. A mixture of Lao Loum and Lao Theun (lowland and midland Laotians) reside in this idyllic riverside settlement. The village has a Buddhist temple, though many of these tribes and ethnic groups in the Golden Triangle are not religious and follow beliefs in ancestry and nature.

Meanwhile, the culinary team is preparing for something special that will happen tonight. The chefs will invite you to a BBQ dinner on a nearby peaceful sandbank. Some villagers will entertain all the guests with traditional dance and music performances. Spend time with new friends and soak in this truly unique atmosphere while dining on a remote little sandbank in Laos.

Day 8: Ban Khok Kham | Ban Khok Aek

As you cruise in the morning, the local expert guide will host a lecture with insights and facts about the Laotian culture of the diverse tribes living along the upper Mekong.

You will arrive at a very rural and charming village inhabited by Khmu people. This village also has a small primary school for the few kids who reside here remotely with their families. Take a leisurely Village walk into the surrounding neighborhood. In the simple bamboo huts built on stilts and scattered across rice fields, the local people still perform all work manually, which consists of processing agricultural products.

Once back onboard, the ship continues its slow meandering upriver. After lunch and in the afternoon, you will arrive at a secluded sandbank spot. The local ethnic Lao, Khmu, and Hmong live in the tiny village of Kok Aek. These residents have committed themselves to the organic growth of vegetables, fruits, and herbs. They have set up a little parcel of land as an organic garden at the riverside, which they have carefully maintained and enclosed by bamboo fences. Though these plots are unusable at certain times of the year due to flooding, the nutrient-rich Mekong irrigation system promises bountiful annual harvests. As you get to know the villagers proudly displaying their gardening achievements, be sure to sample a local specialty, kai paen, made of dried freshwater “seaweed” topped with sesame and vegetables—so wholesomely unique and yummy!

Enjoy your stay overnight at this pleasant place. The village also has a little temple, where the crew can arrange an optional meditation session (limited availability). After taking in a bit of Zen, enjoy the dinner served in the elegant De-Lagree Dining Hall of Anouvong. Afterward, you may like to take some time away in the lounge or join the cinema under the stars on the open terrace deck. The movie Chang (Laotian for “elephant”) was shot in this region in 1927 and made by the same producer as the first King Kong movie. Enjoy the night sleeping in the middle of nowhere, mid-river.

Day 9: Pak Beng | Pak Ngui

Wake up early to catch the magical moment of the first rays of the sun on the river. Early birds are welcome to join the daily morning exercise on the terrace deck (Tai Chi or Yoga).

After breakfast, you will arrive in Pakbeng, where the local expert guide will host a lecture about the Laotian elephants, their cultural importance in the past, and their current situation, which has brought them to the brink of extinction. A good and interesting preparation for meeting these fascinating animals in person tomorrow. Enjoy the rest of your morning and lunchtime as you sail past midday.

In the early afternoon, you will arrive in the small town of Pakbeng. This riverside settlement is halfway between your embarkation at Huay Xai and Luang Prabang. Many locals also stop here when they travel or transport goods between these two “hubs” on the river. The opposite town—so to say, on the port side of the cruise direction is the country’s most sustainably managed elephant sanctuary. If you arrive early enough, you may still see elephants freely walking along the shoreline and taking a morning bath. To expand your knowledge from your morning lecture about these majestic animals, visit the conservation sanctuary. All the elephants here used to work as logging elephants, and since they have "checked in," they have lived in peace and safety. One may ask, "Why not let them live in the wild and enjoy the freedom of mother nature?" After their time as working animals, they cannot live and survive in the wild (there are still very few wild elephants). The sanctuary is fully committed to the tenets of ecotourism and sustainability.

After crossing the river, see the town of Pakbeng and drive up to a lovely hilltop temple. The location allows for fantastic river views to the left and right of the zig-zagging Mekong River.

Lay back and take in the amazing scenery back on board or enjoy some downtime in the tucked-away spa. The ship will anchor in a safe area in the middle of the river. Kick back with an aperitif on the open deck and get prepared for your last dinner on board. The culinary team is pleased to spoil you with a gala and farewell dinner in al fresco style on the terrace deck. Have a great time with your new friends and soak in this truly unique atmosphere of natural sights and sounds.

Day 10: Huay Xai | Disembark | Return Home

  • 1 Breakfast
Enjoy your last sunrise aboard with another morning exercise. This morning, you can take as much time as you need for a leisurely brunch (which we can also serve on the terrace deck) as you cruise along and toward the Thai-Lao border.

Pre-lunch, the ship passes at the junction with the Nam Tha River, one of the Mekong’s major tributaries. The Nam Tha, which translates to “Green River,” begins near the Chinese border, 325 km to the northeast, and ends at this crossing with the Mekong.

Relax and enjoy the last quiet sailing hours as the river scenery gradually opens up. After some hours, the landscape and the river will change, becoming more mountainous and increasingly narrow.

The crew will offer a Lao cooking class to learn how to prepare some tasty and easy-to-make snacks and local dishes for the rest of the cruise until you reach Huay Xai (approximately 15:00), which is to your liking. Upon arrival and check-out, the crew will assist you with your luggage and transfer you to the Lao-Thai border. They will also help you with the border crossing before bidding you farewell on the Thai side in front of the immigration building. 

(If you wish to extend your stay in the Golden Triangle on the Thai side, please contact us for assistance in arranging your transfers to Chiang Rai city, the airport, or a resort/hotel in Chiang Sean.)

Ship/Hotel

Anouvong

Anouvong Ship
Bar Lounge
Lounge

Dates & Prices

My Preferred Start Date

Per person starting at
$5,054 2-3 travelers
Deluxe StateroomAnouvong Deluxe and Deluxe Executive
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Deluxe Stateroom
Room Size: 20 sqm/215 sqft. Comfortable bed (Twin Bed 100 x 200 cm, Double Bed 180 x 200 cm), These gorgeous air-conditioned suites feature panoramic sliding doors that open up to a french style balcony, offering guests breathtaking views. The spacious bathroom is fully equipped with a walk-in shower and a vanity holding luxurious toiletries.
Deluxe ExecutiveAnouvong Deluxe and Deluxe Executive
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Deluxe Executive
Room Size: 20 sqm/215 sqft. Comfortable bed (Twin Bed 100 x 200 cm, Double Bed 180 x 200 cm), These staterooms are decorated with handpicked Laotian artwork giving them an exquisite look. They also feature large windows with amazing views allowing maximum natural light to flow in the room. The gorgeous bathrooms are equipped with luxurious amenities to ensure guests enjoy their showers.
Signature SuitesAnouvong Signature Suites
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Signature Suites
Room Size: 30 sqm/323 sqft. Comfortable bed (Double Bed 200 x 200 cm), private balcony (3 sqm). These spacious rooms come with a private balcony featuring a coffee table and chair for guests to enjoy the fantastic scenery. The vast floor-to-ceiling windows light up the room naturally, and the luxurious bathrooms feature a walk-in shower and a jacuzzi overlooking the amazing landscape.
Included
  • 9 Breakfasts, 9 Lunches, 9 Dinners
  • 9 Nights Accommodations
  • Accommodations as listed
  • Ground transportation as listed
  • Activities as listed
  • Meals as listed
  • Access to a 24-7 Emergency line while traveling
  • Professional English-speaking guide
  • Internet access (in limited areas)
  • Daily Group Shore-Excursions
  • All entrance fees as per program
  • All transfers as per itinerary by air-conditioned Vehicles
  • Welcome drink, brewed coffee, tea and mineral water
Excluded
  • Gratuities
  • Personal Expenses
  • Flight costs (please request a quote)
  • Additional excursions during free time
  • Fuel and transportation surcharges (when applicable)
  • Spa Treatments
  • Port taxes/fees
  • Passport or Visa fees

Map

When to Go

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Feb
Mar
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Oct
Nov
Dec
Good to ideal period to travel, and many people choose to visit at this time.

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Our guide and driver were very good with their knowledge and were very helpful with our questions. It was a very pleasant visit that would have been impossible to do on our own. Hotels and restaurants were fantastic. The special places we got to go to, like the kitchens, were great. Enjoyed the entire trip!
Meyer Smolen

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