Firstly, we have to thanks our tour operator and guide Cham for all the hard work he put into... read more
We were picked up from Chang Rai exactly when promised, and helped across the border into Laos... read more
We had a wonderful experience with the Mekong Smile, right from the booking online, our hotel pick up in Chiang Rai all the way to Luang Prabung. We were very lucky to be the only people on the boat, Our guide Ka was informative and spoke good English. The family who run the boat were lovely and the food was great. All in all a very good experience.
When I planned my Laos trip, I looked for a luxury boat tour on the Mekong. Unfortunately some of the provider like Luang Say or Shompoo were not very responsive (very slow response time to email, not helpful information, no flexibility etc.), therefore I checked for an alternative, this is how I found Mekong Smile Cruise, and I am happy to have found them as it was a great experience!
When I contacted the company, the owner was very responsive, he immediately replied to my emails, he was very helpful and flexible. I booked a private cruise and the rate asked was very reasonable.
All was well organized. All people were ahead of time which was very much appreciated. The transfer from Chiang Rai to the boat was very nice and comfortable, with a nice and friendly driver who was fluent in English. He helped us up to the Thai border and explained how to get to the Laos border where the guide would pick us up. There the visa form was already prepared and I only needed to sign, really great service. The guide Kae was very nice, he did his best to accommodate us during the whole trip. The captain and his family were nice.
The boat was large (usually the offer the trip up to 30 people). Relatively comfortable, there are also some day beds where you can relax. The food was very good on both days. Please note the boat is simple and not luxurious and the bath rooms are very basic, so be prepared, however it was really well done therefore the luxury was not really needed.
The trip is really fantastic, the scenery is so beautiful!! And due to low season there were almost no other boats, really nice, beside of the trip where you always see great scenery, there are several short trips to some villages and caves, very interesting.
I booked the hotel in Pakbeng where you stay over night, on my own as I wanted to be sure to have the best hotel available (see related review).
Overall a great experience, one of the highlights of my Laos trip!
I can recommend this cruise, as the owner manages to organize it well.
From hotel pick-up in Chiang Rai till hotel drop-off in Luang Prabang everything was as promised. Mekong Smile Cruise helps you pass Thai and Lao immigration, transport to the boat and then 2 days of relaxation with a magnificent scenery. Our guide was very good, the same goes for the captain and his wife (who made us excellent lunch). Our sun of four had the time of his life. Also the night in Pakbeng was very nice (Mekong Riverside Lodge). This will surely be one of the higlights of our trip trough Laos.
The 2 day cruise upstream from Luang Prabang to Huay Xai was the highlight of our trip to Laos and should not be missed by anybody travelling in this area. Mekong Smile were excellent to deal with, promptly replying to our email enquiry and confirming a boat would be running once we confirmed the date we wanted leave Luang Prabang. Payment was easy using Paypal and our guide contacted us at the hotel the day before to confirm our pickup time and check to see if we had and special diet requirements. Pickup was on time and when we arrived at the boat, found out that we were the only guests as it was low season and less people travel upstream than down.
Our English speaking guide was full of knowledge and answered all our questions of life on the Mekong.
The Captain and his crew handled the boat very proficiently in the sometimes fast flowing current and as others have commented, the food cooked by his wife was excellent, up with the best we ate.
I would strongly recommend Mekong Smile to anyone looking to do the 2 day cruise on the Mekong.
My family of four (including two teens) made the trip upriver from Luang Prabang to Huay Xai during the end of June. We were on the boat with two other passengers, Kat (our guide) and the captain and his family. We had ample room to spread out, play games and play with the captain's boys! Food was good and ride was comfy. In fact, it was even a little chilly during the trip. Take board games, cards or books to pass the time. We booked our own accommodations at Sanctuary Lodge Pakbeng and were only people in entire resort...a tad spooky, but nice. Had dinner with Kat in town (can't remember name of place) and it was delicious local food. Highly recommend and I wouldn't hesitate to travel again with Mekong Smile!
My recent 2-day cruise from Huay Xai, Laos to Luang Prabang, Laos with Mekong Smile was one of my best experiences on a 5 week Southeast Asia tour. The company arranged my ride from Chiang Rai, Thailand to the cruise departure point in Chiang Kong, my bus fare for the trip over the bridge into Laos, and arranged to have a guide meet me on the Laos side of the river to help me with the visa process, and then the shuttle van to the boat dock where we boarded the boat on the river. The guide, Kae, was great fun. His humor and energy were contagious. The boat itself was huge, beautiful and very comfortable, with places to lay down and snooze and lovely teak booths to sit and write, munch on fresh fruits and coffee, or just get hypnotized by the flow of the river. There were only 2 other passengers on my cruise, so we got to know one another pretty well over our 2 days together.
The boat stopped each day at Lao hill villages so we could stretch our legs and get a glimpse of the lives of Lao villagers along the Mekong. We also stopped to see the Pak Ou caves which was a nice excursion.
The RiverView Hotel I was booked into at Pak Beng - the midpoint on the cruise was lovely, but my room was not air-conditioned. There was a strong ceiling fan, and good mosquito netting around the bed, and I slept fine. However, I understand the other two people from my cruise stayed at a different hotel which was not situated on the river, but they did have air-conditioning.
Our experience was enhanced by the fact that our guide, Kae, had his birthday celebration while we were in Pak Beng. We had a super fun celebration with Kae and his friends from Pak Beng. It was a great introduction to Lao warmth and hospitality.
Finally, special thanks to the Captain of the boat and his wife. The Captain made navigating the complex currents and shoals of the Mekong look simple. And the lunches prepared by the Captain's wife for us in the boat's onboard kitchen were sensational. Great, local, authentic Lao dishes.