The Mekong: From Laos to China

  • CAD $5,890

  • 15 Days / 14 Nights

Sail the mighty Upper Mekong River all the way from Vientiane, Laos to Jinghong, China. This pioneering two-week expedition reveals little-seen sides of Southeast Asia, including charming villages, pristine jungle, and breathtaking scenery, while also taking you to more notorious destinations, such as Luang Prabang, the Golden Triangle, and the Menglun Botanical Gardens.

Itinerary

Day Destination Activities
1 Vientiane EMBARKATION

Explore charming and colonial Vientiane

2 Ban Paklay Scenic cruising on the mighty Mekong
3 Pak Lai See Pak Lai, including the bustling market
4 Luang Prabang Explore UNESCO-listed Luang Prabang

Enjoy the city’s many bistros and cafés

5 Luang Prabang Observe the monks asking for alms

Discover Khuang Si waterfall

6 Pak Ou Caves Stop to explore Buddhist Pak Ou Caves

Scenic sailing through rapids and pools

7 Pak Beng Morning walking tour of Pak Beng

Take a longboat to a traditional Khmu village

8 Chiang Saen Cross the border into Thailand

Visit a Golden Triangle opium museum

9 Tachileik Cross the border into Myanmar

Discover local monasteries and pagodas

10 Cruising the Mekong Cruise between Myanmar and Laos

Stop in Laos to explore a jungle village

11 Muang Long Visit the Aka tribal villages in Laos

Potential visit to the Nam Ha Conservation Area

12 Into China Cross the border into China

In Gang Lei, go ashore for a walking tour

13 Menglun Botanical Garden Explore some of China’s most beautiful gardens

See rare and exotic plant species

14 Jinghong Excursion to the Mengfeilong Monastery

Visit a Chinese tea plantation

15 Jinghong Breakfast on board

DISEMBARKATION

Note: This program is also available in the opposite direction.

Note: Passengers booking in the low water season months of December to April should be advised that in the event that the ship’s captain decides the water is too low, it will be necessary to transfer passengers from as close to the China border as the ship can reach to Jinghong by speed boat. In the event of such as transfer, guests will stay at the four-star InterContinental Hotel in Jinghong or a comparable hotel for four nights in order to complete the Yunnan sightseeing.

VIENTIANE / EMBARKATION*

Join your luxury riverboat before noon, savouring lunch on board before an afternoon of exploration and discovery in the delightful capital of Laos, a former French outpost. Take in Vientiane’s inimitable mix of colonial and eastern architecture, and perhaps visiting landmarks such as Wat Sisaket, the President’s Palace, Haw Prakeo Temple, and the Patuxai war monument. Tonight, spend the evening in port, enjoying dinner on board the ship or in one of Vientiane’s many cafés, bistros, and restaurants.

BAN PAKLAY

Leave the plains of Vientiane, entering a dramatic environment featuring jungles, mountains, and the wide and fast-flowing Mekong. Take in the amazing rock formations straddling either side of the river, and moor overnight on a sandbank.

PAK LAI

A former French administrative town, Pak Lai boasts numerous colonial buildings and a vibrant local market. It’s also home to the largest elephant festival in all of Southeast Asia, typically taking place in February.

LUANG PRABANG

Located in central Laos, at the sacred confluence of the Khan and Mekong rivers, Luang Prabang offers much to see. Discover this well-preserved and distinctive UNESCO World Heritage Site’s gilded Buddhist temples, libraries, and sophisticated cafes, as well as the Royal Palace Museum. Enjoy dinner in one of the city’s many excellent restaurants or visit the buzzing night market. Mooring overnight.

LUANG PRABANG

Today, leave the ship in the early morning to witness an inspiring local tradition. Every morning, hundreds of monks fill Luang Prabang’s streets, collecting alms from city residents. You’re invited to join in before traveling inland to explore Hmong villages, swimming in deep jungle pools at the Khaung Si waterfall, or, if you’re up to the challenge, trekking the forest’s trails.

PAK OU CAVES / NAM OU RIVER

Cruise to Pak Ou, where you’ll set off by boat on a sightseeing excursion to the nearby Pak Ou Caves, a Buddhist sanctuary. The Nam Ou River boasts remarkable limestone cliff faces. Spend the rest of the day following the river through rapids and vast pools.

PAK BENG

Visit Pak Beng, a small Laotian market village on the banks of the Mekong. At Pak Tha, set off on a long tail boat excursion up the Namtha River to visit a Khmu village.

CHIANG SAEN

Arrive in Chian Saen, Thailand, at lunchtime. In the afternoon, you’ll take a coach to to explore Southeast Asia’s Golden Triangle, including a visit to an opium museum.

TACHILEIK

In the border town of Tachileik, Myanmar, visit the Shwedagon Pagoda, which bears the same name as the famous temple in Yangon but is only one-fifth of the size. Here, you’ll also visit the local market and the Two Dragon Monastery, a Chinese Buddhist temple. Bright colours and ornate carvings make the temple complex an enchanting place to visit. Finally, visit the Chinese Monastery. Built in 1999, this is one of the largest and most beautiful monasteries in the city.

CRUISING THE MEKONG

Continue up the Mekong, with Myanmar to your left and Laos to your right. Today, stop to explore a jungle village on the Laos side of the border, and set off on a possible hiking trek into the jungle.

MUANG LONG

Moor at Xiang Kok and travel inland by car to Muang Long, Laos, where you’ll visit Aka tribal villages. Here, find yourself on the edge of the Nam Ha Natural Biodiversity Conservation Area which you’ll explore if time permits.

INTO CHINA

After exploring a local village, leave Laos to cross the border into China. Here, the Mekong River turns a beautiful shade of emerald green. Continue to Gang Lei, where you’ll go ashore for a walking tour.

MENGLUN BOTANICAL GARDENS

Enjoy a lovely morning visit to the renowned Menglun Botanical Gardens. Built in 1959, this is one of the most significant centres for botanical research in all of China. Discover the impressive gardens, which are home to many rare, exotic, and endangered plant species, including the dragon tree, the poisonous upas tree, the “clock flower,” which opens and closes in time with the sunrise and the sunset, and the “dancing grass,” which is responsive to sound.

MANGFEILONG MONASTERY / TEA PLANTATION

Sail to Jinghong, China, where you’ll embark on a morning excursion to the striking Mangfeilong Monastery. Following lunch, visit a Chinese tea plantation and enjoy a tasting before exploring the Manting Park Temple, one of the most important Buddhist temples in the Yunnan province. After a farewell dinner on board the ship, enjoy a traditional dancing show in Mengbalanaxi Theatre.

JINGHONG / DISEMBARKATION

Following a relaxing breakfast on board the ship, disembark and prepare for your onward journey.

Dates & Prices

Sailing SeasonPrice per person
January, March - May 2019Main Deck* From $8,930
January, March - May 2019Upper Deck* From N/A
September 2019 - December 2019Main Deck* From $9,200
September 2019 - December 2019Upper Deck* From $10,900
January, February, August - December 2020Main Deck* From $5,890
January, February, August - December 2020Upper Deck* From $7,290

Please note September 2019 onwards sail on a different ship “RV Sabaidee Pandaw”.
* Price per person based on double occupancy. Due to the dynamic nature of availability and pricing, please click here to contact us directly for sailing schedule and full pricing |

Ship Information

Masthead-RV-Laos-Pandaw

RV Laos Pandaw

Seeing the quality of this ship it is hard to believe it was built in a hurry. There are no proper ship yards above the Khone Falls and we could not persuade our Vietnamese builders to assemble a ship trucked in in bits on the river bank. We tried our Rangoon builder and he also chickened out. By January 2015 we were taking bookings and selling out for November but still had no ship. Paul Strachan in a panic flew to Vientiane and took a taxi down to the river bank and boarded the first cargo ship we saw, a 40 meter barge used to carry heavy loads of cement and rice up to China. She had two 400hp truck engines and was just the thing for tackling the terrifying fast flow of the Upper Mekong .The captain was the owner and agreed terms with Paul. The owner agreed to stay on as skipper and is still there. He immediately took her up to the Golden Triangle, a week’s sail away.

Masthead-RV-Sabaidee-Pandaw

RV Sabaidee Pandaw

In true Pandaw style this double decked vessel is designed to meet the navigational challenges of shooting rapids in the Laos gorges and sailing through shallow waters all the way to China.

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