The Monsoon cruise: a must for visitors to Luang Prabang

Welcoming Visit Laos Year 2018, Vientiane Times is publishing a series of feature articles and images inviting you to experience the authentic nature, culture, history and hospitality of Laos, Jewel of the Mekong.

Guests aboard the boat.

For travellers headed to Luang Prabang and looking for a pleasant cruise on the Mekong River at a reasonable price, Monsoon of Avani Hotels and Resorts may just be the perfect choice.
Monsoon, one of several cruise services available in Luang Prabang, uses a shuttle boat that takes visitors to Pak Ou cave during a four-hour trip. The boat is capable of seating 25 passengers.
This writer and a few colleagues recently had a chance to join the cruise on the Monsoon. It was the first time we had been on a boat along with domestic and international visitors and we found it was a fantastic ride.
It was such a great experience; we loved it and everyone was very excited to be on this large boat as it made its way down the Mekong. We enjoyed cooling off, breathing in the fresh air, taking photographs and selfies, and watching the stunning views along the river, with the mountains lining the river between Luang Prabang and Chomphet district on the opposite bank.
We also caught a glimpse of the lifestyle of the people living along the river, and activities that are a part of their daily lives, such as fishing and farming.
We passed several other boats carrying tourists from time to time and the passengers on them greeted us by waving.
The boat is large and luxurious, and the guide and crew members are very friendly and welcoming. The service throughout the cruise was good and the food fresh and tasty.
The Monsoon makes two stops during the cruise, and at each the guide leads passengers ashore and talks about the background and history of the places they are visiting.
As we headed upstream, the first stop was at the island shrine of Vat Donekhoun Nelamith, 16km from the centre of Luang Prabang. The temple is located on a large island surrounded by the Mekong. The fascinating temple and its monks get few visitors.
The shrine itself is new but the island has a long history and there are many stories associated with it.
The cruise then took us north to the famous Pak Ou Cave, well known as Tham Ting or Ting Cave, located on the riverbank, about 10km from Vat Donekhoun Nelamith. The cave is very beautiful and filled with thousands of Buddha images and has long served as a pilgrimage site for all kinds of people, including members of the former royal family.
The cave is always crowded with visitors from Laos and other countries.
The boat then headed back downstream as we savoured a lavish lunch on board.
The Monsoon is 40 metres long and 4.2 metres wide, and the four-member crew includes the captain and highly-trained staff. It cruises along the Mekong twice a day, with the trips running from 8.30am to 12.30pm, and from 1.30pm to 5.30pm.
The fare for the cruise is US$48 per person, including the entrance fee to Pak Ou, a buffet lunch on board, cold towels, boat insurance, an English-speaking guide, a welcome drink, and transfers from and to hotels. The cost of beverages, personal insurance, and crew gratuities are not included.
There are other packages on the Monsoon, such as a trip to the Kuang Si waterfall that costs US$48 per person and lasts from 8.30am to 1.30pm; the Sunset Cruise that costs US$39 per person and lasts from 4pm to 6pm; and the Dinner Cruise that costs US$39 per person and lasts from 5pm to 7pm.
Guests can party on the river during the sunset cruise, chill and make friends, all against a backdrop that includes the splendour of the mountains and the mists of Luang Prabang.
You can say cheers with a glass of champagne to the music of the river’s gentle waves, or sink anchor so you can explore amazing waterfalls and sacred caves.
Besides Monsoon, the Avani Hotels and Resorts has other kinds of boat services with more destinations but all of them ensure the safety and satisfaction of customers. Visitors can check details or book trips through the services of Avani Hotels and Resorts on its webpage or at MEKONGKINGDOMS.COM.
The cruise is a great choice for visitors to Luang Prabang who want to relax or rest by the river or to indulge in other activities after visiting cultural and historical attractions in this timeless world heritage site.

By Visith Teppalath
(Latest Update June 8, 2018)

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