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Laotian Serendipity

Huay Xai to Vientiane - Example 8 Day Cruise aboard Anouvong
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Embark on an unforgettable journey through the beauty of Laos with an 8-day cruise aboard the luxurious Anouvong, from Huay Xai to Vientiane. Witness the breathtaking landscapes and charm of the Laotian Upper Mekong River. Delve into the rich culture and history as you explore the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Luang Prabang. Marvel at the stunning pagodas, royal palaces, and unique scenery that make this city truly one of a kind. Discover Laos with a guided tour of the Pak Ou caves before embarking on a thrilling kayak trip on the Mekong. This luxurious cruise offers the perfect opportunity for those seeking a vacation that's both relaxing and adventurous. Get ready to experience the heart of Laos like never before on this unforgettable journey aboard the Anouvong.
  • Learn about the culture and life of the locals along the river with an expert guide
  • Explore Luang Prabang at night to enjoy some local Laos cuisine
  • 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
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.

Full Itinerary

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Day 1: Huay Xai | Embark | Huay Ting

  • Ship
  • 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Heritage Line welcomes guests in the morning after the Lao immigration office. Once all passengers have arrived, travel by minivan to the ship, moored at Huay Xai Per. The team assists with check-in and takes care of luggage. Once ready, the captain brings ‘Anouvong’ on course to begin its captivating 3-night cruise along the Upper Mekong.

While ‘Avouvong’ makes its way to its first stop, the expert guide holds an interesting lecture about the intricate tapestry of Laos' diverse ethnic groups living along the Mekong River. Over the next few days, you will get to know all these fascinating varieties of different cultural lifestyles, characteristics, and traditions in real life.

As we reach the confluence of the Mekong and a significant tributary, let the river's gentle currents carry you downstream, granting you the gift of uninterrupted natural beauty. The upcoming destination is a fairly modern village compared to the ones you are about to experience later, inhabited by 800 residents belonging to the Tai Lu ethnic group. This ethnic group spans across China, Laos, Thailand, Burma, and Vietnam. Walk through the village and gather together for a Baci ceremony. This is a heartfelt Laotian ritual conducted by local elders (and maybe monks), gracing your journey with their blessings.

The vessel continues its journey downstream, reaching the overnight spot at Huay Ting. For the first time, moor one of these wonderful sandbanks, which sets the stage for a welcome cocktail followed by a welcome dinner with a background of astounding natural beauty. Welcome to the memorable Laotian Mekong.

Day 2: Huay Ting | Pakbeng | Khok Ek

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
For those who rise with the sun, extend a warm invitation to our daily morning yoga class on the terrace deck, where the stunning Mekong scenery serves as a backdrop.

The cruise brings us in the morning to the charming town of Pakbeng. Nestled on the starboard side lies Laos' best-managed elephant sanctuary. You have the privilege of visiting these magnificent creatures in an almost complete natural habitat. All the elephants residing here were born once in Laos and toiled mostly as logging elephants. Since finding refuge in this sanctuary, they've been embraced by peace and security, living in very natural territory. Why not release them into the freedom of Mother Nature? The answer lies in their past as working animals: they've lost to some extent the ability to thrive in the wild, where few of their kind remain. The sanctuary stands as a beacon of ecotourism and sustainability, embodying a profound commitment to these principles. It is a one-of-a-kind encounter to see these gentle creatures appear out of nowhere in the rainforest and learn so many interesting things about them. If there is enough time, you will be taken up to the hilltop vantage point located at Pakbeng town (by vehicle) that offers breathtaking panoramic views, perfect for capturing lasting memories through the lens of your camera.

After lunch, there is a request for a touch of creativity: through a Bamboo weaving workshop, you can learn this widespread traditional craft and take home your own little bamboo basket as a wonderful memory.

The sailing time into the afternoon offers a breathtaking riverine cinema. The arrival is then at a village that has a very interesting character to it. In this place, three distinct ethnic groups - Hmong, Lao Loum, and Khamo – live together almost under “one roof”. Each possesses its unique history, traditions, ways of life, family dynamics, and housing styles. Venture into the village to a family home where representatives from each of these ethnic groups are going to show and explain their differences and characteristics in day-to-day life. The theory provided the day before, through your lecture, suddenly comes alive in front of your eyes. If time permits and the season allows, there may be a glimpse of the organic gardens where villagers nurture their crops (and you can try one or other local produce).

Back on the ship, when the afternoon gives way to the evening, gather at the bar to indulge in snacks while receiving a preview of the upcoming day's program. Before dinner time, some villagers join us to witness on the terrace deck a performance of the traditional instrument named "Kene, and then let us listen to the hypnotic melodies of this flute along with very unique movements.

After dinner, feel free to come to the lounge for a cozy cinema setting featuring "Chiang" (Laotian for “elephant”). This cinematic gem, shot in this very region in 1927 and produced by the same visionary behind the first King Kong movie, promises to set you in the mood for the next day’s adventure.

Day 3: Khok Ek | Pak Ou | Luang Prabang

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
After breakfast, a morning lecture provides interesting insights and facts about Laotian culture relating to the diverse tribes living along the upper Mekong.
The rest of the morning is at your disposal as we sail through lush vegetation and past gently rolling verdant hills. After lunch prepare yourself for a quite unique activity to experience the calmly flowing lower Mekong from a different perspective. Hop in a kayak and paddle along on your own in total symbiosis with the peacefully flowing stream. Feel the waters of the Mekong carrying you downstream with almost no effort, relax and enjoy the passing natural beauty and immerse yourself in this very special trip. You may like to paddle all the way to the famous caves of Pak Ou, which is our next stop and highlight to come (or return back on board).

We stop close to Pak Ou, and go ashore where we will meet the local “medicine man” who takes us on a jungle trek explaining various interesting facts and astonishing features about the flora and the nature in this area. In the village we may one more time be able to observe local weaving, and find here as well ‘the art of local whisky distilling’. (Kindly note a basic fitness level is required for the approx. 45-minute trek, which is relatively easy walking but does involve some uphill terrain; guests may opt to stay on the ship to reach our next stop, the Pak Ou caves).

The trekking group reaches the caves via the “backdoor”. The famous Pak Ou Caves are located directly on the Mekong’s rocky shore and opposite the mouth of the Ou River. There are two limestone grottoes which house approximately 4,000 sacred Buddhist statues and images ranging in size from mere centimeters up to 2m (7ft) in height. We arrive first at the upper cave and then take steps down (approx. 200 steps) to the lower, most impressive grotto.
Once back on board you can refresh yourself and lunch is served afterwards. From Pak Ou we have about three more hours to sail. During this time, we 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 and knows Luang Prabang like the back of his hand. Join his fantastic presentation, in which he shares some of his expertise on the country’s and Luang Prabang’s rich cultural heritage and fascinating history.

We arrive at the enchanting town of Luang Prabang in the early evening (approx. 18:00 o’clock). Dinner is served on board after our arrival. Afterwards, you may like to have a first taste of the mesmerizing charms of this old town on a stroll through the small streets on your own.

Day 4: Luang Prabang

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
This morning after breakfast, explore one of Southeast Asia’s most unique and charming cities. Head out for a walking tour to discover ancient Luang Prabang (almost flat terrain, easy walking, tour duration about 3.5 hours including refreshment stops).

In celebration of the 20th UNESCO Anniversary in 2015, a book was published which highlights 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 interesting stories about the houses and the places passed. Stroll leisurely along the crisscross of small roads and streets lined with antique structures and mango trees. Some of the 100-year-old Lao-style buildings brim with a by-gone 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 have 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 in the afternoon on the discovery of Luang Prabang. The afternoon is dedicated to a visit to the former Royal Palace – which is now the National Museum. The museum displays interesting local art and other exhibits which used to belong to the Lao royal family. After the museum tour, there is some time on your own to walk around the small city center further - or just pick one of the inviting street cafés and enjoy the laid-back, or “sabai-sabai,” atmosphere before returning to the ship.

In the early evening, you are warmly invited for a sunset aperitif on the terrace deck which is accompanied by a classical local dance or music performance. Afterwards, leave the vessel for an evening out, dining in one of the city’s fine venues for a distinctively Lao-style ambiance. After dinner, the rest of the evening can be spent exploring the night market or back on board.

Day 5: Luang Prabang | Kuang Si | Xayabouri

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Before the daylight basks the town in warm golden tones, the morning alms round, referred to as “Tak Bat” in Lao, is a spiritual Buddhist tradition for Lao people and dates back generations. Wake up before dawn to witness a procession of hundreds of saffron-robed monks in the early morning light. The cruise continues further downstream on the Mekong River.

At the first stop, a sightseeing tour is conducted at an innovative and socially responsible Laos Buffalo Dairy Farm. Having almost no dairy products some decades ago, these milk-based products have become more and more popular in recent years in Asia and also in Laos. Various dairy products, such as cheeses, ice cream, and yoghurt are made locally and distributed to the markets. The tour continues to the nearby cascading Kuang Si waterfalls, famed for their beauty and rushing turquoise waters, making it an amazing park hiking post (leisurely) to marvel at Mother Nature's creativity. Visitors can also refresh themselves with a swim in the shallow pools of water at the waterfall’s base.

Back on the vessel, the cruise carries on towards the nation’s first famous dam and hydroelectric power plant. Before arriving at the dam, an interesting lecture is offered about the role of energy production in Laos’ economy and how the country is set to become the ‘battery’ of Southeast Asia. Eventually, the cruise arrives at the Xayaburi Hydroelectric Dam.

The mooring position is taken nearby the dam to be ready for the next day’s early passage. After dinner, the lounge cinema is set up again, screening another movie classic.


Day 6: Xayabouri | Don Saynhan

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
In the morning, guests can witness the passing of the structure of Xayaburi Hydroelectric Dam, which stands tall at an impressive 32.6 meters (107 feet). It is an imposing elevation that the ship has to overcome with the help of this massive water gate.

Also, during the morning sailing time, there are two offerings in regards to onboard activities. The guide presents a lecture on the history of Lao royalty with a focus on King ‘Anouvong’ – this vessel’s namesake. Another cooking class is offered with a different dish that can be easily replicated later at home. Food brings back memories, doesn’t it?

The shorelines become a bit rockier with some narrow passages to navigate through. In the afternoon, Don Saynhan is reached. The ship is moored nicely, and an exploration of the village and area is undertaken. From the village, a local “Tuk Tuk” is taken to travel inland to visit the so-called ‘Khao Cave’. Traveling by a local means of transportation through the jungle-like surroundings and plush vegetation is an adventure in itself. The cave has been home to a large bat population for generations and is a vital source of potent fertilizer for the village. Visitors can stroll inside to see stalagmites and stalactites as well.

The ship moors there overnight. Guests are invited to join for some prelude snacks at the bar with the guide providing an outlook for the next day. Enjoy the evening on the deck or opt for an after-dinner reflexology to find slumber easily.

Day 7: Don Saynhan | Pha Liep | Sandbank

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
On the final full day of this expedition, the cruise takes us to the lovely village of Pha Liep, where the landscape is adorned with majestic limestone mountains, forming a magnificent, picturesque, and picture-perfect backdrop.

The ethnic Lao Loum live in this region, mostly making their living in agriculture. However, today we get to know two other “industrial” businesses. The first one is the craftsmanship of producing traditional longtail boats. Call it a factory, but the process of constructing these typical water vehicles, which are nowadays still the primary modes of transportation found in Laos, is very much down to hard manual work. The other “business” is perhaps a more enjoyable one to run. To be an owner of a local whiskey distillery does not only allow the craftsman to have one or other tempter double checking the quality of the product, but it is also a business that surely never runs dry in Laos. Lao whiskey is a national establishment, and every Laotian has a bottle at home. Obtaining a bottle and mixing the classic “Laotian whiskey cola,” a good copy of the well-known Cuba Libre, is recommended.

After this mix of entertaining local culture on the ground, the journey sets sail once more, gliding along the Mekong's gentle currents to a very special mooring location for the night. The ship will be cast away at a remote and terrific sandbar on which the journey comes to an end with a high note. Guests are invited to a cocktail reception, toasting the memories collected along the Mekong, and enjoying a great and romantic barbecue dinner under the Laotian sky.

Day 8: Sandbank | Vientiane | Disembark

  • 1 Breakfast
Enjoy the last sunrise aboard with a morning yoga session outside on the deck. Breakfast is set up on the terrace deck this day (if weather permits) to relish the last sailing hours with views until reaching Pak Lay. Kindly prepare your luggage and be ready for check-out by 9 a.m. Minivans will transfer guests to Vientiane, reaching the city around 12:30 hrs.



Anouvong Ship
Bar Lounge

Dates & Prices

My Preferred Start Date

Per person starting at
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.
  • 7 Breakfasts, 7 Lunches, 7 Dinners
  • 7 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
  • 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


When to Go

Good to ideal period to travel, and many people choose to visit at this time.


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