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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 journey 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 (or reverse) – 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.
  • 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: 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 | Ban Khok Kham

  • 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
Today, on the last day of your cruise through the Golden Triangle of Laos, some final highlights await. After enjoying a sumptuous breakfast, a unique activity is offered 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 trip. You may like to paddle all the way to the famous caves of Pak Ou, which is your next stop and a highlight to come (or return back on board). Stop close to Pak Ou and go ashore, where you will meet the local medicine man, who will guide you on a jungle trek, explaining various facts and astonishing things about the flora and nature in this area. In the village, you may be able to observe local weaving one more time and learn here as well about the art of local whisky distilling. 

(Kindly note that a required basic fitness level of approx. A 45-minute trek, 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 and have lunch afterward. From Pak Ou, we have about three more hours to sail. During this time, 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 and knows Luang Prabang like the back of his hand. Join his fantastic presentation, in which he shares some of his expertise on Laos and Luang Prabang’s rich cultural heritage and fascinating history.

You finally arrive at the enchanting town of Luang Prabang in the afternoon (approximately 15:00). The crew will assist with your check-out and help with your luggage.



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

Dates & Prices

My Preferred Start Date


Early Bird Discount
Book your cruise with Heritage Line in advance to secure your cabin together with an ‘Early Bird’ discount on your journey along one of Southeast Asia’s most enchanting waterways. The ‘Early Bird’ is available on any published departure date in any cruise destination, on any ship, and any itinerary. Kindly note that this offer is only available on entry room category. Please contact us for details.

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.
  • 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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