Traveling from Thailand to Laos by boat is an interesting option if you are trying to get from north west Thailand (including Chiang Mai) to Luang Prabang in Laos. The region is mountainous and the roads are winding making bus trips long and motion sickness inducing. Cruising down the mighty Mekong river avoids these headaches.
For us cruising part of the Mekong River proved to be a great idea. Especially since we chose the Nagi of Mekong to take us from Huay Xai to Luang Prabang in Laos.
When we started researching getting from northern Thailand to Luang Prabang in Laos and found the Nagi Of Mekong slow boat cruise website we knew we were on to something. The website had a lot of information written in English which is always handy for us English speakers.
After reading through the details on the website and deliberating whether or not we should actually go on a slow boat down the Mekong, we decided to contact Adisak via his email address found on the website.
To be honest, neither of us was looking forward to spending two full days on a boat. A large old fashioned long boat. Sure, the pictures on the website showed a beautiful boat, but after all the stories we had heard about the slow boats that run from Huay Xai to Luang Prabang, we were still a little worried.
We had heard stories of people sitting very uncomfortably on a wooden bench with a crappy cushion for their bottom, if that. No back to the seat. Knees touching the backside of the person in front of them. Seventy plus people on the boat for eight hours a day. What where we getting ourselves into!
Thankfully, Adisak responded to our query and advised us that yes, a slow boat cruise would be running from Huay Xai to Luang Prabang. His emails were extremely thorough. He provided a lot of helpful information and requested a similar amount of information from us.
The Nagi of Mekong went above and beyond to make sure that their customers were looked after right from the first moment of contact. Immigration forms were dropped off at our accommodation the night before so we could fill them out in advance. Our smiling morning pick up was on time. After many months in south east Asia we weren't used to this kind of treatment. We chatted to the other people on the cruise and they also had the same positive experience as us. That was nice to know.
The long boat was beautiful. And pristinely clean and well looked after. The captain and his family smiled and happily tried to speak English with us. The lady's cooking was amazing. The fish on the first day was sensational. On the second day we had fried chicken for lunch. I am not sure what she put in that batter but it was delicious!
Kae, our tour guide, spent a lot of the time on the boat, and in Pakbeng, making sure we were all ok, had enough to eat and drink and that we were having a good time. He spoke great English which helped with the cruise enjoyment. Everyone was able to communicate well with him. We asked a lot of questions. Like, a lot. He always answered them, even if they were so obscure that he had to make a call to find out the answer.
The limited number of customers on the long boat, 15 on our trip, was really awesome. I am not sure if this number is a normal amount of customers on the boat but I would doubt that any more than 16 to 20 people would be on the cruise at one time. Over crowded boats are no fun.
The cruise was really worth it. The price is high at 4600 Baht per person ($150 AUD) however, we did get looked after really well. It really helped that we had accommodation provided (included in the cruise price) and our rooms were all ready for us when we got to Pakbeng. One less thing on our minds.
A couple things I would like to suggest to the Nagi of Mekong Slow Boat Cruise:
We ran out of tea bags by 9:30am on the second day. Make sure you have a spare stack of 100 or so tea bags in the cupboard. A lot of tourists will happily drink 4 or 5 cups of tea on one of the slow boat days.
The scrabble board game that we had in our backpack was a total hit with everyone. Perhaps you could set up an entertainment corner on each of your boats that has a few board games, some books and magazines for guests to use while they are on the boat. Spending two days on a boat even when the view outside is gorgeous can get boring.
The buffet lunch on both days was too delicious for words. And perhaps a little too big. There seemed to be a lot of wastage on both days. Even when most of us went up for a second helping. Saying this, we still got hungry at both morning tea and afternoon tea time. There was a fruit bowl that we could pick from through out the day but there is only so much fruit one can eat. Possibly this is a cultural difference, single large meals Vs multiple small meals, but we suggest Nagi provide a smaller buffet lunch and include a morning tea and afternoon tea. Just some biscuits or cake or something. Don't forget the tea!
Kae, our tour guide was great. He did answer every question we had. Looked after us all and made sure everyone was comfortable. He did a wonderful job. We cannot fault him at all.
One last suggestion, include maps of Luang Prabang and Huay Xai or Chiang Khong for people to have before we reach our final destination. We could then be familiarised with the town. There was a folder full of things to do in Luang Prabag that was great but would have been even more great if there were maps we could take with us at the end of the cruise.
We really enjoyed the Nagi of Mekong slow boat cruise. We would recommend it to anyone. It isn't cheap but it was totally worth the money. Everyone thought so.
- Nagi Of Mekong Slow Boat Cruise From Chiang Khong To Luang Prabang - Pre Day 1
- Nagi Of Mekong Slow Boat Cruise From Chiang Khong To Luang Prabang - Day 1
- Nagi Of Mekong Slow Boat Cruise From Chiang Khong To Luang Prabang - Day 2
- Nagi Of Mekong Slow Boat Cruise From Chiang Khong To Luang Prabang - Review
Disclaimer: We received complimentary Nagi of Mekong slow boat tour tickets in return for our complete and honest review - good or bad. Click here for more information about Nagi of Mekong.