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Slow Boat Hell: Chiang Khong to Luang Prubang

Cali
1 post
Slow Boat Hell: Chiang Khong to Luang Prubang

Here is the current situation for the slow boat:

so before the ferry left they said that they would sell us accommodation at some town for the overnight stay. we declined but plenty of other people bought it. after they overcrowded the boat which is supposed to hold 80 people with 150+ people we had a long 6 hour journey. about an hour away from the overnight stay, we stopped the boat and were forced to get off. we were told that the water level was too low to continue. we were marched for 40 minutes down river to where they had setup a makeshift camp to sleep on the beach for the night. they sold food and beer at expensive prices, but we had to buy since it was the only food available. the people who had bought the accommodation were screwed out of their money. once it got dark, 3 or so groups of lao men would come up to our little group and just stand and look at us. finally when we asked what they wanted, they said they were on a walk and moved on. other groups would come up and offer us mushrooms or weed. so we slept on our backpacks and hoped for the best. plus it was freezing cold.

the next morning we woke up and got back onto the boat. it was an 11 hour ride but we finally made it to luang prubang.

London
Level Contributor
19 posts
3 reviews
1. Re: Slow Boat Hell: Chiang Khong to Luang Prubang

I have just been told (by Luangsay Cruises) that all their boats from LP to Houeisay are suspended until at least 15 March. Apparently, the public boats are also suspended as of tomorrow (21 Feb).

Vientiane
Level Contributor
6,598 posts
95 reviews
2. Re: Slow Boat Hell: Chiang Khong to Luang Prubang

The Mekong water level is really down this year - probably thanks to Chinese dams.

toffee_uk_2000
1 post
3. Re: Slow Boat Hell: Chiang Khong to Luang Prubang

I was on this very same boat. Of course it was disapointing when we had to stop off for the night. Firstly, we weren't forced off the boat, as some people decided to stay and sleep on the boat for the night. We slept on the beach for the night, and yes it was cold. But, it was a really great experience sitting by the fire, eating fresh laos food with a cool Beerlao! And, you're in Laos, who doesnt get offered weed/opium, just be polite and say no. There were a few people approaching us, but again, be polite, say hello, and they will move on! We spoke to quite a few of them and learned a bit about their lives and culture. I loved the slow boat, was long but the scenery easily makes up for it! And what do you expect the meekong to be like at the end of the dry season! On the other hand, when people sell the tickets, i suppose a little warning wouldnt go amiss!

We could have just been told to sleep on the beach, at least the villagers came down to cook and sell drinks and food. The prices were reasonable I thought. And the beer was cheaper than the boat! the boat was full, but they make trips like this all the time, so i was comfortable that they knew what they were doing, added to the fun and unpredictability that is travelling!!

Colorado
Level Contributor
3,380 posts
167 reviews
4. Re: Slow Boat Hell: Chiang Khong to Luang Prubang

Kyledub and toffee-uk:

I'm wondering if either of you would mind if I 'hijaked" your varying view point on your posts and placed them on the Chiang Rai forum (or you could do so). People wanting to travel from Chiang Khong to Luang Prabang often ask questions about the slow boat on the Chiang Rai forum. Having never experienced the boat, I don't have a response for them so I'd love to share your differing perspectives.

Broder

Estonia
1 post
5. Re: Slow Boat Hell: Chiang Khong to Luang Prubang

With us happened exactly the same story.

I´m sure, it is organized namely. Ok. Water was really slow...but there was like small village builted for us.

They waited us already there.:) Moment when we arrived, they kindled the fire, turned music on, offered a sitting place and etc.

After ouer boat was stopped - many speed boats arrived to us and offered themselfs for driving to nearest city. The speed boat trip cost´s now already 3000 baht per boat.

Some people became angry and demanded the money back...local man´s just smiled and told: "You have 2 possobilities, pay for speed boat or sleep on the beach.

By the way...sleeping on the boat cost´s 100 baht.

I´m very sure...it´s just a trick to get a money. And i´m very sure now...they will do it again and again.

*sry my englich:)

On The Ground
Level Contributor
121 posts
24 reviews
6. Re: Slow Boat Hell: Chiang Khong to Luang Prubang

That is highway robbery.

On The Ground
Level Contributor
121 posts
24 reviews
7. Re: Slow Boat Hell: Chiang Khong to Luang Prubang

What sort of tricks do they do when the water is high like sometime during the rainy season?

sydney
Level Contributor
389 posts
35 reviews
8. Re: Slow Boat Hell: Chiang Khong to Luang Prubang

I can see the pro and cons of both perspectives. Comes down to personal tolerance I guess. I hope to be visiting Laos this August so I've inserted a little reminder for myself if I decide to forego Nong Khaiw and Muang Ngoi and take the slow boat. Though I'm expecting fewer travellers and plenty of water in the Mekong at that time of year. Sleeping on a 'beach' along the Mekong is not on my to do list. Those who paid for accom. at Pakbeng and not reimbursed were totally ripped off IMHO.

Trail, Canada
Level Contributor
7 posts
46 reviews
9. Re: Slow Boat Hell: Chiang Khong to Luang Prubang

Dec-Feb are the "HIGH" Water months. June-Nov are the LOW Water months. The "high" water is really snow melt run-off from the Himalayia Mtns in Northern China. It takes about 4 months to reach Thailand. Although the rainy season is June-Aug, they still are the Low Water Months on the Mekong River in Thailand/Laos/Cambodia. Welcome to upstream Chinese Dams & Global Warming; which has radically reduced the Himalayan Glaciers. I was in Nong Khai, Thailand on 2009/12/22. There is an old 75 tonne Steel Ferry beached 20m up the river bank, just south of the Friendship Bridge crossing to Vientiane. I'm going back to Thailand in Sept 2010. Looks like I'll skip the Slow Boat ride.

Vientiane
Level Contributor
6,598 posts
95 reviews
10. Re: Slow Boat Hell: Chiang Khong to Luang Prubang

"Dec-Feb are the "HIGH" Water months."

Hardly! When the Mekong floods it is usually in August/Sept. It has never flooded in Dec - Feb. The Mekong is usually well down in these months, and this year has been even lower than usual.

Edited: 04 May 2010, 03:09