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Golden Triangle Traverse

Huay Xai to Luang Prabang - Example 4 Day Cruise aboard Anouvong
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Affectionately known in Laos as the “Mae Nam Khong” or “Mother of Water”, the upper Mekong river takes you on a cruise through stunning scenery. Experience the local life and culture that has remained unchanged for generations. One of the best ways to experience this unique part of the world is by embarking on a four-day, three-night river voyage from the Thai-Lao border, Huay Xai to Luang Prabang – a region famously referred to as the Golden Triangle. Along the way, you’ll have the opportunity to take in breathtaking views, immerse yourself in local customs, and indulge in a variety of enjoyable onboard activities. And all of this is made possible thanks to the luxurious accommodations aboard the Heritage Line’s Anouvong.
Evening view over Luang PrabangLaotian ArtPak Ou cave near Luang Phabang
  • 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
  • Visit Ban Khok Phou, near a stunning white sandbank
  • Explore the picturesque Khum village, a tranquil haven amidst rice fields
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 in the morning after the Lao immigration office. Once all 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 voyage along the Upper Mekong.

While ‘Avouvong’ makes its way to its first stop, an 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, one will get to know all these fascinating varieties of different cultural lifestyles, characteristics, and traditions in real life.

As the confluence of the Mekong and a significant tributary is reached, let the river's gentle currents carry everyone downstream, granting the gift of uninterrupted natural beauty. The upcoming destination is a fairly modern village compared to the ones to be experienced 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 the 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 rising with the sun, a warm invitation is extended to the daily morning yoga class on the terrace deck, where the stunning Mekong scenery serves as a backdrop.

The voyage brings in the morning to the charming town of Pakbeng. Nestled on the starboard side lies Laos' best-managed elephant sanctuary. The privilege of visiting these magnificent creatures in an almost complete natural habitat is granted. 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 enough time is available, the hilltop vantage point located at Pakbeng town (by vehicle) that offers breathtaking panoramic views, perfect for capturing lasting memories through the lens of the camera will be visited.

After lunch, a touch of creativity is requested: through a Bamboo weaving workshop, the widespread traditional craft can be learned, and a bamboo basket can be taken home as a wonderful memory.

The sailing time into the afternoon offers a breathtaking riverine cinema. 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. The 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 the lecture, suddenly comes alive in front of your eyes. If time permits and the season allows, a glimpse of the organic gardens where villagers nurture their crops (and one can try one or other local produce) may be offered.

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 to witness on the terrace deck a performance of the traditional instrument named "Kene, and then let the audience listen to the hypnotic melodies of this flute along with very unique movements.

After dinner, feel free to come to the lounge for a cosy 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 the mood for the next day’s adventure.

Day 3: Khok Ek | Khok Luang | Khok Phou

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

Walk further through the fields to a nearby waterfall. The sheer serenity and beauty of this place do not need many words. Some locals may accompany you, explaining their daily lives, crops, and harvest methods to help us understand their way of life.

The journey continues further down the river into the golden evening sun. If you arrive before the sun sets, you will have time to stroll through another local village. A mixture of Lao Loum and Lao Theun (lowland and midland Laotians) reside in this idyllic riverside settlement. Basket weaving, an old traditional local handicraft, provides some income for the locals. The village does have a Buddhist temple – though many of these tribes and ethnicities in the Golden Triangle are not religious and follow beliefs in ancestry and nature.

Meanwhile, the culinary team is preparing for a special event this evening. The chefs will invite you to a farewell BBQ dinner on a nearby, peaceful sandbank. Some villagers will join to perform some classic traditional dance performances. Have a grand time together with newly made friends and soak in this truly unique atmosphere while dining on a remote little sandbank in the midst of Laos.

Day 4: Luang Prabang | Disembark | Return Home

  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch
After an excitement-packed 3-night cruise, the next and last destination before arriving in Luang Prabang is the famous Pak Ou caves. With intention, breakfast is sampled out with fewer choices (or a la carte) than usual this morning, given that different culinary brunch settings will be offered later before departing.

Pak Ou Caves, nestled on the Mekong's rocky shore, just opposite the Ou River's mouth, house two limestone grottoes that hold approximately 4,000 sacred Buddhist statues and images ranging from mere centimeters up to 2m (7ft) in height. The lower cave, the most impressive one and relatively easy to reach, is visited. After the cave visit, Heritage Line offers two optional choices to continue the excursion: For those seeking adventure, a kayak tour along the serene Nam Ou River offers a riverine experience in total symbiosis with the peaceful flowing stream and the stunning surrounding mountainous scenery. Alternatively, a short, tender boat ride to the nearby village of Ban Muang Keo to witness the local artistry of traditional silk weaving and the Lao whisky distillery technique can be chosen. In the village, a local “medicine man” (if time and availability permit) explains the local and traditional ways of treatment using simple mother nature as a natural pharmacy.

Back onboard, right before the appetite kicks in, the lifestyle part of this final cruising day begins. A culinary Lao cooking class serves as the entry activity to a brunch, indulging in a buffet spread of mains and desserts that tantalize the taste buds. Enjoy the final peaceful hours of the voyage. The brunch is served until one hour before arrival (approx.), and it can be enjoyed either in the restaurant, in the lounge, or on the terrace deck.

During the last hours of sailing, an enthralling final presentation unfolds the intricate history of the Golden Triangle, composed of its complexities of colonialism, opium, conflicts, and the multifaceted roles played by Burma, Thailand, Laos, Britain, China, and more. The approximate location is at the confluence of the Mekong with the Nam Tha River, one of the Mekong's major tributaries, known as the "Green River." Originating near the Chinese border, 325 km to the northeast, it joins the Mekong at this juncture.

Cherish the remainder of the cruise until arrival in Luang Prabang at approximately 15:00 o'clock, at your own pace. Upon arrival and check-out, full assistance with luggage and any other requirements is provided. Farewells are bid right at the pier right in the center of town, wishing a pleasant onward journey.



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.
  • 3 Breakfasts, 3 Lunches, 3 Dinners
  • 3 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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