Built in: 2006
Good For: world class travelers who would like to visit lovely UNESCO World Heritage Site Luang Prabang, traveling along the secluded and impressive landscapes in northern Laos and into the once notorious region of the Golden Triangle.
The river vessel Mekong Sun is a very comfortable ship capable of mastering the wild sections of the upper Mekong. Accommodation and service is top level and guests enjoy a very exclusive yet casual travelling experience, while they reside in comfortable cabins or enjoy the services of the reataurant or bar . A selection of Asian and continental food is provided throughout the cruise. Special requirements can be catered for and wine, beer as well as spirituous beverages are available.
On the Mekong Sun there will be neither captain’s dinner nor any entertaining games like bingo. Rather than that, guests will go on exciting offshore excursions and enjoy a programme with profound travel information in form of presentations, speeches and films on relevant topics. Among many others, the French Mekong Expedition of the 1860s, the daily life of a Buddhist novice or the plants and fruits of the Mekong region will be the subjects.
The exclusive river vessel Mekong Sun (built in 2006) enables you to go on a comfortable journey, which seemed impossible for ages: over 450 miles of travelling along fantastic river landscapes, passing by World Heritage Sites and aboriginal villages. Safe and comfortable travelling with only 28 guests on board is guaranteed, while you watch the incredible landscapes of this partly untamed river pass by.
The upper Mekong is one of the most difficult rivers in the world to navigate. Your comfortable cruise ship Mekong Sun masters tight gorges, labyrinths of sandbanks and mounts violent chutes. Water levels are prone to drop or rise about 2 m overnight on this part of the Mekong and quiet and calm parts of the river alternate with most dramatic and exciting shore sceneries: Tropical lush green mountains, impressive rock formations and secluded villages along the river banks.
Your journey includes visits to the lovely UNESCO World Heritage Site Luang Prabang, one of the most beautiful towns in South-East Asia, travelling along the secluded and impressive landscapes in northern Laos and into the once notorious region of the Golden Triangle. As of today, the Mekong Sun and Mekong Explorer are the only cabin cruisers sailing between Thai Chiang Saen and the Laotian capital Vientiane. Guests can lean back and indulge themselves unworried during this extraordinary trip. With 14 exclusive passenger cabins and high quality full board service, the Mekong Sun is perfectly suited for travelling in small groups with a most unique character.
Kindly note: Every river cruise on the upper Mekong is a pioneering experience and is subject to ever changing river conditions, e.g. flood waters or shallows. Therefore, changes to the itinerary or schedule are not unusual and each journey will be individually adapted to ensure that all highlights are included.
Mekong Sun Cruise - Technical information
The Mekong Sun – Facts
• Built in Laos in 2006
• 2 decks with 11 classic cabins on the main deck (12 m²/129 sq ft), all facing out onto the water and with wide sliding windows with a French balcony providing a fantastic view of the passing landscapes
• 3 superior cabins, one in the bow of the main deck (16 m²/172 sq ft), two on the upper deck (18 m²/194 sq ft). The two cabins on the upper deck have their own small private balcony; the one in the bow has a superb panoramic view to the front
• All cabins with en-suite shower/WC and air-conditioning
• Large sun deck with bar service and restaurant/bar area
• All guided offshore excursions and meals are included
Mekong Sun - Technical information
• Catamaran, two steel hulls, two decks, with teak and mahogany superstructure
• Weight: approx. 100 tons
• Length: 40 m
• Width: 7,5 m (at its widest part)
• Depth: approx. 0,9 m
• Two diesel motors with 550 hp each
• Fire alarm
• Crew: 16
• Construction completed in 2006
8 Days Luang Prabang - Golden Triangle by Mekong Sun Cruise Highlights:
• Discover some of the most remarkable, most impressive landscapes of this still-untamed river.
• Take picture at the most beautiful Pak Ou cave in Laos.
• Explorer Luang Prabang by visiting Wat Visoun, Wat Manorom and Sa-Paper-Village and learn about Buddhism in Laos.
• Travel to hidden charms of Laos rural area as peaceful & exotic village Walking through evergreen tropical forest.
• Watch local Laos fishermen catching Mekong giant catfish along the shore.
• Tour to Golden Triangle area at Chiang Saen, where you will visit the Golden Buddha of Sop Ruak and the new Hall of Opium.
• Experience, enjoy and relax on The boutique Mekong Explore Cruise with delicious food, drinks and tastefully spacious cabins.’
Day 1: Welcome aboard – embarkation (D)
Your cruise director and friendly crew await you this afternoon (after 2pm) with a warm welcome upon embarkation near the town of Nong Khai. (Nong Khai can be reached by a short flight or by train from Bangkok to Udon Thani (UTH) as well as onland with a transfer from the Lao capitol of Vientiane across the friendship bridge. Upon request we will be happy to arrange transfers accordingly.) Attend our welcome reception and enjoy Southeast Asian specialties served during your dinner menu on board. Overnight onboard your river vessel.
Day 2: Your cruise experience begins today (B/L/D)
Breakfast is served on board. In the morning we will take you on a excursion to the historical park of Phu Prabat, impressed with natural rocks shaped almost mushroom like. Phu Phrabat has also been a sacred place for centuries and has recently enlisted to become a UNESCO world heritage site. From a temple close by you can enjoy one of the most impressive Mekong-views along the river in this region. Upon returning aboard your cruise experience begins. Lunch is served aboard while cruising leisurely in a few hours from the small town of Sri Chiangmai downriver towards Nong Khai. In the evening you can stroll along the river promenade or bargain at the colorful Indochina market in town. Dinner and overnight aboard your cruise vessel.
Day 3: Bizarre sculptures in Nong Khai (B/L/D)
In the morning, a guided tour will get you acquainted with the bizarre, yet interesting Buddhist-Hindu sculpture park. Upon your return aboard your cruise experience continues. Along both sides of the quiet river banks you may spot every once in a while small golden temple spires, while a presentation on tropical fruits grown in this region provides with possibly surprising insight benefits used in traditional local medicine. This cruise caters especially to those travelers who fancy discovery tours and an authentic Asia more than a fixed cruise schedule without having to miss the comfort and atmosphere of a Boutique river cruise ship such as the Mekong Explorer. At night your vessel is moored at a secluded sandbank or at a small village pier. After dinner, a documentary shows the river flow of the Mekong from the Tibetan highlands all the way to the South China Sea. Overnight onboard your river vessel.
Day 4 - 5: Pioneering cruise expedition through remote North-East Thailand (B/L/D)
While enjoying your breakfast on board you will reach the starting point for your next shore excursion. A short drive brings you to an impressive cliff monastery, which stands seven levels high above local rice paddies. Western visitors are welcomed very seldom – just like most of the times during your entire tour. On the fifth day you will go on a short and easy trek (approx. 1 hour) through the tropical environment of Phu Wua National Park. In the afternoon you will cross the river into Laos (as the next immigration office is several driving hours away Mekong River Cruises arranges for a special permit by the provincial Lao government that their guests can enter Laos today without having to pass immigration). Continue to the small village of Pak Khading where we join a long-tail boat for a trip up the Nam Khading River to visit a remote village. Returning back to Thailand and your cruise vessel; continue your cruise further south. Overnight onboard your river vessel.
Day 6: Nakhon Phanom (B/L/D)
In this region picturesque karst-mountains pass by on the Lao side of the river. After a few hours cruise along the mighty Mekong – “the mother of all waters” as the locals call the river here – you will reach the provincial town of Nakhon Phanom. You will get acquainted with the town during a short city tour on a motor-rikscha/TukTuk or by foot. The governor’s palace was formerly the residence of the Thai kings while visiting this part of the country, today it serves as a local museum. In the late 1920s Ho Chi Minh planned and organized the Vietnamese communist movement from his exile in Nakhon Phanom. Your will visit the house where he lived during these years. In Nakhon Phanom we recommend to join your tour guide to have a drink in a local bar – menus with latin characters will probably be not available anywhere, though. Overnight onboard your river vessel.
Day 7: Thailand and Laos - two worlds apart yet so close (B/L/D)
This morning you will cross the river into Laos (see below for visa requirements for Laos). In the town of Thakhek you will find many remaining buildings from the French colonial era. Once planned to become the capitol of Laos under French rule, today’s Thakhek is a typical charming and sleepy Lao provincial town that you get acquainted with during a guided stroll. In the surroundings of the city at the foot of a karst mountain panorama a Buddhist-grotto was discovered only a few years ago in 2004 and will also be part of your visit. After returning back to Thailand you will reach the holy pilgrim center of That Phanom. Legend has it that Buddha himself came here to command that after his death one of his breastbones be treasured in That Phanom as a reliquary. The devoutness of the local pilgrims which you will notice during your visit of the temple and its Buddhist mural-walls and well kept garden is quite impressive. At night you will celebrate your farewell dinner together with your crew and captain! Overnight onboard your river vessel.
Day 8: Farewell to Isaan (B/L)
After breakfast you will disembark and leave with your entire luggage. You can leave towards Ubon Ratchathani (UBP) from where frequent flights to Bangkok are offered by Thai Airways. If time allows you will be visiting the Ubon national museum after your lunch in a local restaurant. End of service in the afternoon upon reaching Ubon Ratchathani airport. *
There are many other possibilities to continue your exploration of Thailand and/or Laos, e.g. spend a night in a lovely river lodge in Khong Chiam or cross the Mekong Bridge into Southern Laos to Pakse (where you can enjoy another fantastic cruise through the region of 4,000 islands on the Mekong Islands river vessel). Whatever you prefer, we will be happy to arrange your individual tour services upon request!
NOTE: Every river cruise on the Mekong is a pioneer experience and is subject to constantly changing river conditions, including from floodwaters and shallows. Therefore please understand that we must reserve the right to alter the itinerary of this tour due to the logistical complexities involved. Small deviations in the tour program are sometimes necessary, depending on weather, local authorities and river and/or road conditions. For safety reasons and according to navigating conditions, these programs may be amended without previous notice.
* The cruise is also operated in the opposite direction starting with the bus transfer from Ubon Ratchathani airport in the morning and ending with the transfer out to Nong Khai. All services are identical and the same program will then be conducted from south to north!
* After mid-January, due to lower water levels, the ending point of the downstream cruise will be approx 50 - 80kms north of Nakhon Phanom. For these departure dates the excursion on day 6 - 7 will be operated by bus, no visits will be missed. The checkout will be in the morning of day 7 and the last night is spent in panoramic hotel at the Mekong instead of the boat. The same itinerary is applied for the Upstream departure for the first night.
• Transfers to and from Nong Khai or Ubon (depending on cruise direction)
• English speaking guides.
• All meals, coffee and tea, mineral water.
• Admission fees for all sightseeing places.
• Presentation and lectures by cruise director.
• All excursions and entrance fees.
• All visa cost.
• Personal expenses.
• Drinks at bar, laundry.
• Tips and gratuities.
6 Days Vientiane - Luang Prabang by Mekong Sun Cruise Hightlights:
• Visit the national symbol of Laos : Luang Temple, and picturesque Arcde Trioumphe.
• Enjoy great Mekong River Scenery along riverbank Such rural area as villages, rice paddy and natural beauty.
• Discover some of the most remarkable, most impressive landscapes of this still-untamed river.
• Enjoy the beautiful views and watch nature’s wonders along the riverbanks.
• Watch local Laos fishermen catching Mekong giant catfish along the shore.
• Take picture at the most beautiful water fall in Laos.
• Learn about the former capital Luang Prabang and now UNESCO - World Cultural Heritage Site.
• Experience, enjoy and relax on The boutique Mekong Explore Cruise with delicious food, drinks and tastefully spacious cabins.
Day 1: Embarkation in Luang Prabang (D)
After lunch you will embark on your Mekong Cruise vessel, a comfortable new boutique-cruise ship. (Check in is after 2 PM). This unique boutique vessel is a German-Laotian owned river ship with stylish cabins. Settle into your accommodating cabin and unpack for a six-day cruise. Begin with a guided walk up Phou Si-hill, which offers a spectacular sunset view over the Mekong as well as the Khan River and the surrounding mountains. In the evening, enjoy strolling along the Mekong promenade or visiting the colorful night market of the local Hmong minority. Enjoy the spacious decks, lounge on board and attend our welcome reception this evening. A selection of Asian and European food will be provided throughout the cruise. Overnight in your cabin aboard your river vessel.
Day 2: Departure from Luang Prabang (B, L, D)
In the early morning you will able to observe the traditional giving of alms in the streets of Luang Prabang. Breakfast is on board and the rest of the morning will be spent on a guided city tour with visits of the famous Wat Xieng Thong temple, Wat Khili and the Wat Sene temple as well. Your spectacular cruise begins with the departure from Luang Prabang after lunch from where you will cruise north through beautiful scenery. The night is spent on a secluded river bank or sandbank. Overnight onboard your river vessel.
Day 3: Pak Ou Caves (B, L, D)
After breakfast on board you will explore the famous Pak Ou Caves, with thousands of small Buddha statues inside the caverns. After a short walk through the jungle (optional) you visit a Laotian village. In the village you can observe how the local liqueur Lao-Lao is being distilled traditionally. Before returning to your Mekong vessel, you will see elephants in action (unless they are busy with an off-site contract by the time of your visit). After re-embarkation you will enjoy a few hours of cruising down the Mekong River amidst beautiful landscapes. Overnight onboard your river vessel.
Day 4: Wild nature along the mighty Mekong (B, L, D)
The ship will head south to the Mekong ferry crossing at Tha Deua, connecting Luang Prabang Province with the Sayaboury province. Further downstream you will discover some of the most remarkable, most
impressive landscapes of this still-untamed river. The landscape becomes more and more spectacular: hills covered with tropical vegetation, awe-inspiring rock formations along the river banks, and a fascinating array of fast currents and slower river parts. The power of the mighty Mekong will give your cruise the feeling of a real expedition (due to sudden drops in water level on some days, it may be necessary to make the afternoon excursion down south and upstream again – the wildest and possibly most exciting part of the Mekong – in a local Lao slow boat before returning back onboard). You will visit a local village school, which is supported by guests of the Mekong River Cruises fleet. Enjoy the beautiful views and watch nature’s wonders along the shores before you head north again and stop at a sandbank for the night. Overnight onboard your river vessel.
Day 5: Kuang Si – Luang Prabang (B, L, D)
After breakfast on board, enjoy the beautiful view and spot local fishermen onshore as you cruise upstream again. After a few hours of cruising up the river, you will stop and continue by bus to visit the famous Kuang Si-waterfalls, some of the most remarkable waterfalls in Laos. On the way you will stroll through the small village of Tha Pan, where you can observe how the local communities live in Northern Laos. In the afternoon you will return to Luang Prabang. This last evening on board will be celebrated with a farewell dinner with a traditional Lao Baci-friendship ceremony.
Day 6: Disembarkation (B)
After breakfast you will say goodbye to your Laotian crew. Check-out and disembark. End of service with the transfer to the airport.
NOTE: Every river cruise on the upper Mekong is a pioneering experience and is subject to constantly changing river conditions, including floodwaters and shallows. Therefore please understand that we must reserve the right to alter the itinerary of this tour due to the logistical complexities involved. Small deviations in the tour program are sometimes necessary, depending on weather and river conditions. For safety reasons and according to navigating conditions, these programs may be amended without previous notice.
Transfers to and from Luang Prabang airport or hotel in town from/to Mekong Sun Cruise
English speaking guides.
All meals, coffee and tea, mineral water.
Admission fees for all sightseeing places.
Presentation and lectures by cruise director.
All excursions and entrance fees.
All visa cost.
Drinks at bar, laundry.
Tips and gratuities.
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