Slow boat from Huay Xiai to Luang Prabang, Laos - everything you need to know
Updated: Dec 12, 2019
After the border crossing to Laos (read here how to do it on a budget) you have several options to go to Luang Prabang from Huay Xiai.
We decided to choose the most scenic one, which isn’t the cheapest one as well - we booked a slow boat, which took us in two days to Luang Prabang.
Where can I buy the slow boat ticket?
Buy your ticket directly at the slowboat harbour.
There are several counters, hotels etc. that offer tickets as well, but they always charge a commission. The counter at the harbour opens at 8 am in the morning and the ticket costs 200.000 kip (about 20€) per person. Make sure to be there right in the morning to reserve your seats.
How long will the slow boat to Luang Prabang take?
In total you will need two days to arrive in Luang Prabang.
The journey on the first day will take about 7 hours and 8 hours on the second day.
When does the boat leave?
The boat starts from Huay Xiai at around 11/11.30 am, they tell you to be there at 10 am.
The earlier you’re there, the better seats you get. (Even though you can reserve your seats in advance, not everybody sticks to it...)
Make sure you’re not sitting in the back, because the engine is really loud.
You’ll arrive around 5-6 pm at Pakbeng, where you have to stay the night.
The boat to Luang Prabang leaves at 9.00 am on the next day. Be sure to be there earlier again to get good seats.
You will arrive at around 5.30 pm in Luang Prabang.
Can I buy food and drinks on board?
You can purchase food, drinks and alcohol on board. But be aware that the prices are about the double amount compared to the main land. We bought everything in advance. In Huay Xiai are many restaurants that offer sandwiches for take away
Where does the boat stop in Luang Prabang?
The boat sadly doesn't stop directly at Luang Prabang. You have to take a took took to get there. The took took mafia will be waiting for you at the harbour and they will tell you, you have to buy your ticket in advance. Don't listen to them and just walk past them.
As soon as you're a bit further, the driver will offer you cheaper prices to get to the center. Try to ask other travelers, if they would like to share a took took, to save more money. We ended up paying 20.000 kip per person, which was half of the price they offered in the first place.
Where to stay in Huay Xiai
When doing the border crossing, you probably won’t make it to the boat in time, as it leaves only once a day at around 11/11.30 am.
So you have to stay over night in Huay Xiai.
There is a little walking street with restaurants and a nice little temple up the hill. But we would recommend to stay next to the harbour, so you don’t have to get up that early on the next day.
Just walk around the area and ask the Homestays for a room, this way you can check it out before booking. We paid about 7€ for a double room.
It’s about 15 minutes walking distance to the walking street, so you can still have dinner over there.
Where to eat in Huay Xiai
When walking up the hill to the temple (which is a must for sunset! We were completely alone, besides singing monks!) you can find a cute little restaurant with reasonable prices and a view over the Mekong. It’s called Terrasse.
Where to stay in Pakbeng
When arriving you’ll be greeted by many people offering you a room. We honestly always ignore all of them and just walk past.
Make your way up to the little street (there is only one, you can’t miss it) and ask yourself around. We ended up staying at Monsavanh Guesthouse which was about 6 € per night and absolutely fine.
Where to eat in Pakbeng
We had dinner at MK, which was nice and cheap as well. Directly across the street of the Homestay is a little bakery, where we had a chocolate croissant for breakfast and ordered our sandwiches for take away as well.