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Review Highlights
A must do

Firstly, we have to thanks our tour operator and guide Cham for all the hard work he put into... read more

Reviewed 2 days ago
Chiang Mai, Thailand
via mobile
Wonderful introduction to Laos

We were picked up from Chang Rai exactly when promised, and helped across the border into Laos... read more

Reviewed 1 week ago
Chris A
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All reviews pak beng pak ou caves chiang rai slow boat relaxing trip public boat two days thai border border crossing boat captain beautiful boat hill tribe village english speaking guide visa process dropped off low season great trip
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Reviewed February 10, 2016 via mobile

From our first email require from the final drop at our hotel, Mekong Smile was fabulous! The value for the money is great. The boat was comfortable, not crowded at all. The tours along the way were nice excursions. A tip for the next group -- bring along pens and notebooks to give to the village children. The tour groups help support their schools. Our guide Mr Ca was knowledgeable and super friendly! The food was great and the beers were cold. Accommodation in Pak Beng was fine; they gave us a few options and we booked in at Mon Sa Van. They even called vans to take us directly to our hotels in Luang Prabang! I would definitely recommend this over the public boat or the speed boat. The value is great!!

Date of experience: February 2016
2  Thank sam16286
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 10, 2016

I had traveled up the Mekong from Luang Prabang to Huay Xai in 2008. At that time, the vast majority of travelers were going downstream, so the boats going upstream were empty or nearly so. With an empty boat there was the luxury of moving around the boat to get the best views and camera shots of the activity and scenery on the river and its shores. And the choice of seats. And the use of the recliners ... and ...

Fast forward to 2016 and the parameters associated with boats filled with travelers remain unchanged. The public slow boats coming downstream were packed with all 100 (+/-) seats occupied. Those going upstream, well - not so.

The Mekong Smile slow boat pilot came from a village between Luang Prabang and Pakbeng. His wife prepared a wonderful luncheon on both days and their son assisted in every way he could. My wife and I were traveling with a friend and the three of us had the 36 passenger boat and the guide, Kit to ourselves.

Kit was raised in a village located on one of the Mekong tributaries near Luang Prabang. His family grew hillside rice. He learned his English during 6 years in a monastery and had experience with tours in Laos as well as the surrounding countries of SE Asia before going to work for Pheng at Mekong Smile tours. Kit had a great deal of knowledge about the ways of the people and the flora and fauna of the region. The boat stopped at the Pak Ou caves and two villages on the way. Kit explained the differing tribal influences in each village as well as the history of the caves.

With all logistical affairs handled by Mekong Smile (transportation to the slow boat pier 7km north of Luang Prabang, accommodation in Pakbeng and midday meals), we were only left to find dinner in Pakbeng. The breakfast was "take away" from the Pakbeng guest house. Pheng can arrange guest house accommodation in Huay Xai and transportation to/from Chiang Rai or Chiang Mai, including border crossing logistics.

In short - the Mekong Smile Cruise was absolutely first class!

Date of experience: February 2016
3  Thank Roy V
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 10, 2016 via mobile

We enjoyed crushing down the Mekong. It was in every way relaxing and enjoyable all the way from pick up to drop off. The stops on the way made it very interesting.

We didn't want a crowded public slow boat and we didn't want a dangerous and uncomfortable speedboat. We also didn't want to pay the blue for a high end cruise. That made this choice perfect for us! Highly recommend.

Date of experience: January 2016
Thank mogensydemann
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 9, 2016

Every aspect of this river boat cruise was wonderful. All details and logistics are pre-planned so you need only to relax and enjoy the scenery. You will certainly find cheaper means of getting between the countries but if you want a non-crowded boat with excellent tour guides and the ability to really enjoy your experience, opt for a trip with Mekong Smile Cruise. They assist with obtaining visas, offer private drivers between Chiang Rai and Huay Xai (included in the cost), and ensure you arrive to your hotel in Luang Prabang. Highly recommended tour company!

Date of experience: February 2016
2  Thank sletchwo
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 8, 2016

The unusual cold spell in Lao end of January beginning of February was paramount in changing our travel dates and it became necessary to carry on our journey on Chinese New Year. Not our preferred choice but we got on to the internet and Mekong Smile cruises offered a slow boat trip von Luang Prabang to Huay Xai. We booked and then quite a few things did not proceed as initially foreseen; payment via internet was not possible, the Hotel in Pak Beng was fully booked, and communication via the net was cumbersome. We initially expected the worst, but then everything worked like a charm. We were picked up at our Guesthouse in Luang Prabang spot on time, and amazingly we were the only guests on the boat. We assume this is due to the fact that: a.) Most travelers are going downstream, b.) Chinese new year and c.) the boats have to go upstream to Huay Xai to pick up the next load. But who is to complain, we had the guide all to ourselves, plenty of space to feel really comfortable, a competent skipper and his wife as a very attentive cook. To report about the Mekong, the people living next on it and the wonderful scenery would take much more time and space, but should be done by every serious traveller.
There is no doubt that not all Slow Boat Trips are like this but it was an experience and we can recommend Mekong Smile Cruises anytime.

Date of experience: February 2016
1  Thank Herbert S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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