In a few days time i'm planning to take the slow boat down the Mekong from Houei Xai to Louang Prabang and just wondered if anyone had any advice or suggestions on that - i've heard that some people really love it, while others hate it. If anyone could update me on the weather in Laos at the moment then that would be grand too.
i did the fast boat and its seat of your pants stuff but good fun - heard stories about the slow boat being shocking the second day when there isnt anything to eat and people get fed up of it all.
take your choice and see it out - its what travelling is supposed to be about
the slow boat allows you to actually see and experience the scenery and life on the river, however they really do pack the people in. Maybe you could do one day slow boat and one day fast.
It's worth keeping in mind that the speed boats have been known to crash at fairly frequent intervals!
One option (if you can get a group of you together) is to charter your own slow boat. It can cost surprisingly little (maybe $15-20 each, depending on numbers) and will give you a sense of smug superiority as you pass other slow boats loaded up with hundreds of backpackers, locals, chickens etc.
Or, one final option. Do what I saw one mad Israli do and build you own bamboo raft and go the whole way on that
i did the slow one and it was just awesome! i loved it and i actually thought it was much nicer than the noisy and uncomfy fast one; but i agree with budjude, travelling is about taking the risk and the chance, what's been great to me or budjude might be horrible for u.
the weather at the moment should be quite wet but it's great fun and the nature's at its best. i did it around end of august/ beginning of september too.
good luck and enjoy the mekhong, it's gorgeous!!!!!
I took the slow boat and it was like a 2 day cruise!
The scenery is fantastic and not someting you want to miss by going 100 km/h in the speed boat.
It may have been slightly more bearable because of all the samsung we drank on it, but there was a great party atmosphere and the lack of comfort just wasnt an issue.
Word of advice....Dont jump off the boat!!! The waters not as beautiful as it looks!
the slow boat was cool but a tad uncomfortable. take a jumper or better a cushion to sit on. scenery was cool and if you are with a good group it is fun as well. pakbeng is boring but you can sllep and eat and guesthouse we stayed in was clean and cheap. slow boat seemed better than fast boat. good luck
Thanks for everyone's advice and suggestions. I decided to go for it in the end and can now say that I highly recommend it to anyone else considering doing the same. The scenery is beautiful, especially at and after the midway point of Pak Beng, and although it's fairly uncomfortable there's a good atmosphere and Beer Lao is available to pass the time !