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Transportation Slowboat vs. Speedboat

Dresden, Germany
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Transportation Slowboat vs. Speedboat

We ve been in Huay Xai in August for our first time and didn't decided upfront how we get from there to Luang Prabang. We were very irritated about the costs and time for travelling.

There are 2 options to get to Luang Prabang:

1. with the Slowboat in 2days to Luang Prabang with a separat stay in Pak Beng for 170.000kip p.P. plus overnight stay. People told us different stories about travelling with the Slowboat depending in the travel season. In the wet season the boats where very empty and you could sit. In the dry season it should be quiet different because then the boat is packed with more people then seats. So 2 days can be very hard and long. The luxus boats take the same time but cost more than 100$ p.P. (or even 400$)

The 2. option was going by speedboat: 1500THB p.P. in 5-6hours to Luang Prabang. We thought we give it a chance even though the internet recommended not to do so.

As we arrived at the peer 4 Travellers were waiting with us. The boat was very small and the boat was packed full with local people and their luggage. There were no seat or anything to sit on. We had to sit on the ground (space: 70x70cm). We made sure that our backpack was securly fasten and started the trip. So far everything went well but after a while the seating position became very uncomfortable because of the small space. After a short stopp in Pak Beng (after 2,5h) we went further on. The biggest problem that came then was the rain. Because the boat was going quiet fast and the rain drops hit the face like small needles. Even rain jacket and Rain poncho didn't help at all. So we drove 3h in the rain and we got totally wet.

The wet cloths and the wind made everthing very cold but we where happy when we reached Luang Prabang.

For sure the Trip was a real adventure and we might not do it again but if you don't want to travel in an maybe overgrowded boat or want to pay for a luxus version more then 100$ the speedboat was the Option for us but sure not for everyone. You should have faith in the driver and be careful and still then nothing is 100% safe.

Espoo
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1,964 posts
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1. Re: Transportation Slowboat vs. Speedboat

We took a speedboat from Luang Prabang to Huay Xai and back just a month ago; it was great fun! What comes to seats (or lack of them): we are both approaching 60 and I have already one artificial hip joint and other one is in bad shape from osteoarthritis also. Still I did not find the cramped conditions all that bad, maybe we old folks are just more resilient or something... All in all I do not understand all the warnings about the speedboats all guide books and travel sites have, if you want to be safe and travel like at home, stay at home!

There should be helmets with vizors available for all passengers, they are not so much for accidents, but the rain, which hits quite hard at 40 knots.

Why did we take the speedboats? In a hurry to get to the Gibbon Experience...

Melbourne, Australia
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2,578 posts
146 reviews
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2. Re: Transportation Slowboat vs. Speedboat

obviously you did not see the one that crashed and killed all those on board.

Melbourne, Australia
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1,797 posts
211 reviews
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3. Re: Transportation Slowboat vs. Speedboat

Wow - you two are brave... we saw them fly past us when we did the slow boat and thought you'd have to be mad to get in one... We had read reports about crashes and people dying so we didn't even consider them. Thanks for sharing your experiences,

- K

Vientiane
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86 reviews
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4. Re: Transportation Slowboat vs. Speedboat

Travelling by speedboat is a good option if you want to suffer serious injuries or worse.

Espoo
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1,964 posts
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5. Re: Transportation Slowboat vs. Speedboat

I they were as dangerous as you sissies claim, they would be driven by convicts, not voluntary professionals...

Besides locals ride them also, happily. Road traffic is also much more dangerous over there, please, do not use any motor vehicles while traveling in those parts of the world! Tens of thousands of people die in road accidents in SAE annually.

Oraison, France
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480 posts
118 reviews
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6. Re: Transportation Slowboat vs. Speedboat

we are in our mid fifties, still in good condition but not audatious or stupid enough to use this speed boats ..

of course one can consider that 2 days slow boat can be long travelling from huay xai to LP but we saw how people were shaken like hell, helmeted and sitting likes parcels in the bottom of these boats

they were driven an insane speed, do not forget that there are rocks everywhere in the mekong river

please enjoy your holidays in laos but do not jeopardize with your life

Espoo
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1,964 posts
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7. Re: Transportation Slowboat vs. Speedboat

If a bus falls off the road killing all inside, do you quit using buses? Hundreds of buses have been destroyed this way. So I am not worried about a boat having an accident every now and then.

Besides it was fun.

Vientiane
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6,184 posts
86 reviews
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8. Re: Transportation Slowboat vs. Speedboat

Idiotic post above. The boats are dangerous. If you have a death wish, that is fine - no one cares. However don't encourage others to risk their lives on a public forum.

Espoo
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1,964 posts
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9. Re: Transportation Slowboat vs. Speedboat

Well, at least compared to typical tourist activities like bungee jumping, rafting, tubing and rock climbing, taking a speedboat serves also a practical purpose of taking a person form point A to point B, while saving considerable time compared to bus of slow boats. What escapes me is why some presumed danger in this activity is so strongly condemned and warned against, but not in those activities which actively seek danger.

I repeat: we enjoyed the rides and would take them again instead of bus or slow boats. Maybe us old folks are just tougher.

Sydney, Australia
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109 posts
123 reviews
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10. Re: Transportation Slowboat vs. Speedboat

Well put!

Let us all remember that there is danger in many aspects of travel. While I used to rock climb I do NOT anymore. On the route I broke my ankle on in Wyoming, there were 2 climbers who dies in each of the 2 previous years. Result of the 3 accidents and 2 deaths?

More climbers than ever!

The speedboat is an uncomfortable but fast option to the speedboat.

I personally travel by VIP bus (because of wanting some degree of comfort now) and am WILLING to pay for it. Don't rubbish me for wanting to spend extra money on that. Similarly, it shows "bad breeding" when folks taking speedboats (including local Lao people) are rubbished.

Their money, their choice, their time, AND their sense of danger.