Top Ten Southeast Asia Classic Adventures

Explore the Middle Mekong
By Andrew Forbes
Mekong River
Dig in: Paddling the Mekong

At least half the fun of visiting Luang Prabang, the former royal Lao capital, is getting there. At least, that is, if you go by boat. A short ferry ride across the Mekong from the northern Thai town of Chiang Khong is the small Lao town of Huay Xai, dominated by an old French fort. From here, fast long-tail boats (which seat six and can be chartered) leave on a regular basis for Luang Prabang, some seven hours distant. Helmets and life jackets are obligatory, as the vast expanses of the Mekong River allow the speedboat jockeys to propel their light but powerful craft at high speeds. Seven hours of this may rattle even the most stout hearted, so consider breaking the trip up with a night in Pakbeng, a pleasant town located at the confluence of the Mekong and Beng Rivers with several adequate guesthouses and restaurants. The trip to Luang Prabang is distinguished by spectacular mountain scenery, narrow gorges, and pristine rain forest. Expect elephant sightings, as they bathe in the river's shallows.

Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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