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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
Activity Level: Relaxed

Full Itinerary

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Day 1: Huay Xai | Embark | Pak Ngui

  • Ship
  • 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Heritage Line will welcome you at the Thai immigration office in the morning hours (please see details in our embarkation guide). The team will assist you with all immigration procedures on both the Thai and Lao sides, and they will take care of your luggage, which you may find later in your room on board. After all formalities, you will transfer to the ship at Huay Xai Pier on the Laos riverside. Upon check-in, get acquainted and settle into your room as your journey is about to start.

Enjoy your first hours onboard as you sail from the Thai-Lao border southbound. The area on this side of the river is wide; however, the captain will always keep an eye out for rocks, stones, and sandbanks to ensure safe navigation, making the sailing interesting to watch from the open deck. After some hours, the landscape and the river will change, becoming more mountainous and increasingly narrow.

Your first stop in the afternoon is Khon Teun, a relatively modern Laotian village showcasing various wooden sculptures and home to around 800 residents and a Tai Lu ethnic minority. For a traditional Laotian greeting and to wish you a safe journey, the village elders welcome all guests with a Baci ceremony. The villagers here practice long-held traditions and techniques of weaving handmade garments with distinguishing patterns. Making their living from it, the families here have passed down their weaving knowledge from generation to generation.

The village also has a lovely temple nearby, where you can arrange an optional meditation session (limited availability). Resident monks and novices are always eager to interact and socialize with visitors. After taking in a bit of Zen, the ship will continue cruising to the overnight mooring spot. The local expert guide hosts a lecture about Laotian elephants, their cultural importance in the past, and the current situation that has brought them to extinction. Be ready to meet these fascinating creatures up close in an elephant sanctuary.

Enjoy your dinner served in the elegant De-Lagree Dining Hall. Afterward, you may like to spend some time in the bar or join our cinema under the stars on the open terrace deck. The movie Chang (Laos and Thai, for “elephant”) was shot in this region in 1927 by the same producer as the first King Kong movie. Enjoy your first night sleeping in the middle of the river on a secluded sandbank in the middle of nowhere.

Day 2: Pak Ngui | Ban Gaeng Hang Ngai

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Wake up early to catch your first sunrise in Laos on the Mekong River. Early birds are welcome to join our 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.

After breakfast, you will arrive in the small town of Pakbeng. This riverside settlement is halfway between our 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.

On the cruise route 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. Visit the conservation sanctuary to supplement your knowledge from the previous lecture about these magnificent animals. All of the elephants here used to be logging elephants; after their time as working animals, they are unable to survive in the wild (there are only a few wild elephants left). The sanctuary is fully committed to the tenets of ecotourism and sustainability.

During lunchtime, continue your journey with stunning views of the shores from the comfort of the dining room. At a sandbank further down the river, the local ethnic Lao, Khmu, and Hmong live in the tiny village of Kok Aek. They have established an organic garden on the riverbank, which they have meticulously maintained, surrounded by bamboo fences, and where they grow organic vegetables, fruits, and herbs. Though these plots are unusable at certain times of the year due to flooding, the nutrient-rich Mekong irrigation promises bountiful annual harvests. As you get to know the villagers, taste the local specialty, kai paen, made of dried freshwater seaweed and topped with sesame and vegetables.

Back on board, cruise for more hours, lay back and take in the beautiful scenery, or enjoy some pampering time in our tucked-away spa. The ship dropped anchor overnight near another small and secluded village. You may explore this tiny village of around 300 people, subject to your arrival time and daylight availability, which is devoid of electricity or any semblance of modernity but not of the villagers' abounding charm and warmth.

As you remain here at the sandbank overnight, kick back with an aperitif while being serenaded by some local villagers who have come onboard to perform on their "Khene,"  a handheld, ancient instrument made of bamboo and originating here in Laos. End your day with a culinary highlight as you dine tonight on the terrace deck, with the sights and soothing sounds of nature all around us.

Day 3: Ban Gaeng Hang Ngai | Pak Ou | Luang Prabang

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner

After breakfast, a morning lecture provides fascinating insights and facts about Laotian culture relating to the diverse tribes living along the upper Mekong.

You can spend the rest of the morning sailing through lush vegetation and past gently rolling verdant hills. After lunch, prepare for a 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 memorable trip. You may like to paddle to the famous caves of Pak Ou, which is your next stop and a highlight to come (or return on board).

Make a stop close to Pak Ou and go ashore, where you will meet the local medicine man, who will take you on a jungle trek, explaining various facts and amazing features about the flora and nature in this area. You may be able to observe local weaving and the art of local whisky distilling in the village one more time. (Kindly note that a basic fitness level is required for 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. The two limestone grottoes have approximately 4,000 sacred Buddhist statues and images, ranging in size from mere centimeters to 2m (7ft) in height. Once you arrive at the lower, more impressive cave, head up the stairs (approximately 200 steps) to the smaller chamber.

Once back on board, you can refresh yourself, and lunch is served afterward. From Pak Ou, you have about three more hours to sail. During this time, Mr. Francis Engelmann, who used to work for UNESCO on heritage preservation projects, was born in Paris in 1947, 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.

You will arrive at the enchanting town of Luang Prabang in the early evening (approx. 18:00). Dinner will serve on board after your arrival. Afterward, 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
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 5: Luang Prabang | Khok Akha

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
For the very early risers, we have 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 Buddhist tradition for Lao people and dates back generations. It is lovingly and faithfully adhered to here in Luang Prabang. Wake up before dawn to witness a procession of hundreds of saffron-robed monks in the early morning light. After the almsgiving, walk in the morning market and watch the town come to life before returning to the ship for breakfast. Say goodbye to Luang Prabang and continue your journey downstream on the Mekong river.

In the morning, set out for today’s sightseeing and pay a visit to an innovative and socially responsible Lao Buffalo Dairy Farm. 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 the vessel, the cruise will sail to the nation’s famous dam and hydroelectric power plant. Before you arrive at the dam, the crew will give a lecture about the role of energy production in Laos’ economy and how the country can become the ‘battery’ of Southeast Asia. Eventually, you arrive at the Xayaburi Hydroelectric Dam. The ship slowly passes through two ship locks, bringing the vessel down by about 30 meters. You may also have the chance to discover this enormous structure during a short guided tour.

The ship moors near the southern side of the dam midstream at a sandbank after some additional sailing time into the evening. Enjoy some cocktails with the sand under your bare feet before heading to a lovely dinner on the terrace deck.

Day 6: Khok Akha | Pak Lay

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
After the morning exercise (Tai Chi or yoga on the terrace) and breakfast, the crew will offer this morning two different excursions or activities to choose from:

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. Stop over at the shore to 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, also known as lowland Laotians, make up the majority of the village's population. They rely on selling wood, fishing, and rice to make a living. The elevated location of the village allows for some great views of the meandering Mekong and some great photos.

When you set sail, the shorelines will become a little rockier, with very narrow channels to navigate. In the afternoon, stop at Don Saynhan village, where you 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.

Back on board, the ship will keep cruising until you reach Pak Lay village, where you stop for the night. This evening, after dinner, the daily cinema is held open-air under the stars on the terrace deck, with another classic movie on display.

Day 7: Pak Lay

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Fortify yourself with a hardy breakfast for this morning’s exciting kayaking excursion. In this area, the Mekong is very calm and shallow, with many small sandy islands along its shoreline, making it ideal for exploring on your own for some time.

The ship will travel along the Thai-Lao border, something that reminds you of an immense Buddha greeting you from the opposite shore. After lunch,  stop at Phalat Village, a small hamlet over the Mekong in sight of Thailand. Tuk Tuk, the local mode of transportation, will take you to a nearby chopstick factory. Learn how chopsticks are made, become perfectly round, and have the exact dimensions.

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 boat to set foot on the sandbank and savor a barbecue dinner in a wonderfully remote and romantic setting.

Day 8: Vientiane | 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 lunch as you cruise toward Vientiane. During the morning, the local guide presents a lecture on the history of Lao royalty with a focus on King Anouvong – this vessel’s namesake.

Around midday, you will arrive in Laos’ capital, Vientiane. The crew will assist with your check-out and helps with your luggage for your onward journey.



Heritage Line Anouvong
Heritage Line Anouvong Sundeck
Anouvong De Lagree Dining Hall

Dates & Prices

My Preferred Start Date


Early Bird Discount
Book your Southeast Asia cruise in advance and enjoy a 5% discount on all itineraries. Valid for new bookings only. Not combinable with any existing or future offers. Kindly note that this offer is only available on entry room category
Additional restrictions may apply. Please contact us for details.

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Per person starting at
Anouvong 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.
Anouvong 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.
Anouvong 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
  • 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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The trip was terrific with great planning on your part. Most of the adventures were not mainstream and somewhat off the beaten path which made it especially enjoyable!! We felt taken care of and you all were readily available to respond to questions and issues. I would highly recommend your company and friends have already expressed interest based on our pictures and excitement.
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