If you are looking to take a slow boat from northern Thailand to Luang Prabang, Laos you have a few different transportation options. The most affordable and quickest way to travel down the Mekong to Luang Prabang is by speedboat but we aren’t even going to talk about that because it is downright dangerous- just don’t do it.
Your safest, most affordable option is to travel by public slow boat which should cost you around 210,000
Shompoo’s boats are much longer and wider than other boats you will see traveling the Mekong so we had lots of space to move around and stretch our legs during the two-day journey. Plus they cap all their trips at 40 travelers so the boat never feels overcrowded. There are a few different seating options on board. There is a sundeck in the front of the boat and behind the sundeck is a dining area with comfortable booths you can settle into. You can also sit in front of the captain in the bow of the boat or lounge around on some cushions in the back of the vessel. There is a bar on board that sells beers and snacks and serves coffee and tea for free. When it comes to boat bathrooms, we always expect the worst, but Shompoo’s bathrooms were immaculate. As a matter of fact, they were actually the cleanest bathrooms we have seen in all of Southeast Asia.
The first day our guide, Vong, met us at 8:30 am in Houay Xay at the Lao immigration office. All
Wow! We were shocked-
Our tour guide, Vong, was fabulous. He was friendly and knowledgeable and was available to answer any questions we had along the way. He helped us navigate immigration in Houay Hai and made sure we knew where we were going once we got to Luang Prabang. On our second morning, it was very cold on the boat and he gave us all blankets and served us hot tea.
The boat is owned by a family who comes along to take care of you on the journey. The father drives the boat and the wife and daughters cook meals and take care of anything else you need. They don’t speak much English but they are so warm and friendly that you automatically feel at home on their boat.
The whole scoop:
We highly recommend Shompoo cruises. Although it is more expensive than taking the public boat, in this situation, you get what you pay for. We had a comfortable boat, delicious food and an expert guide to facilitate our journey. You can book your ticket with accommodation in Pakbeng included but we recommend getting a ticket without accommodation and booking the accommodation on your own at Sanctuary Lodge or any other Pakbeng hotel. Overall we thoroughly enjoyed our relaxing journey down the Mekong and are happy we chose Shompoo cruises.