We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.
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
Read all 174 reviews
Reviews (174)
Filter reviews
174 results
Traveler rating
Traveler type
Time of year
LanguageAll languages
More languages
Show reviews that mention
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
Updating list...
116 - 121 of 174 reviews
Reviewed February 13, 2016 via mobile

I can only continue with the good reviews already posted so far. The whole cruise was very well organized: Starting from the pick-up in Chiang Rai, through the accommodation in Pakbeng up to the taxi service in Luang Prabang. Mr. Pheng and our guide Kae even helped us with all the formalities required to cross the Lao boarder before entering the boat!

So if you are looking for a good alternative to the slowboats, Mekong Smile Cruise is definitely a good choice. The boat is very nice with enough space to enjoy the sun and the Lao beer. Included in the trip are also three stops (we visited two villages and the Pak Ou caves).
Our guide Kae was always very concerned about our well-being and provided us with lots interesting information.

All in all it was a really wonderful and relaxing trip, I would highly recommend!

Date of experience: February 2016
2  Thank laoghaire1980
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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.
View more reviews