Purple DragonWay Beyond Luang Prabang

From Chiang Mai or Chiang Rai by Luxury Boat to Luang Prabang 

For those with a bit more time and a sense of adventure there are other ways to journey to Luang Prabang besides an airplane. Instead, you can travel by luxury overnight Mekong River cruise to Luang Prabang from Houeyxay, near Chiang Rai, Thailand in the safety and comfort of a purpose-built teak river boat. Not long ago this was a trip only for backpackers. Boats were rickety and unreliable and also served as an overnight hotel. Nowadays you can make the same trip in comfort on a first class boat with an overnight stay in a magnificent four-star lodge overlooking the Mekong River. Most of our guests say this was one of the best vacations they can remember. This program is available only to guests who are also using our Leisurely Luang Prabang program.


Way Beyond Luang Prabang is a luxury overnight journey by boat from Thailand to Luang Prabang that gives you a close look at village life along the Mekong River as well as some spectacular scenery. You may also reverse this itinerary and commence your journey in Luang Prabang and cruise upstream.

You must spend at least one night in Chiang Rai or Houey Say before the trip because you need to travel early on the morning of departure to nearby Chang Khong, pass through Thai immigration formalities, cross the Mekong River to Houey Say, formally enter Laos, and find your way to the boat. This program includes private transportation from Chiang Rai to Houey Say with a guide who will help you deal quickly with the red tape, assist you and your luggage across the river, and find your way to the boat.

The overnight stop is in Pak Beng, where you stay in a luxury eco-resort overlooking the river. The boat makes several stops along the way to visit picturesque villages, where you will have time to visit rural markets and meet the local people. You will also make a quick stop at the Tham Thing Caves to see the thousands of Buddha statues that have been left there over the last century.

We offer three different options at the beginning of the trip. You can travel from Chiang Mai to either Chiang Ray by road with our private car, driver and guide, spend one or more nights there, and enjoy local sightseeing and nightlife. The trip from Chiang Mai is identical to the Chiang Rai & the North trip. You can also drive directly to Chiang Khong and spend the night before the cruise departs there.

If you have already visited Chiang Rai or do not wish to spend much time there, you can fly from Bangkok to Chiang Rai (there are no flights from Chiang Mai) any time on the day before the river trip and we will provide airport transportation and accommodation. You can add local sightseeing, including a trip to the Golden Triangle, if you stay two or more nights..

You may also reverse this itinerary and commence your journey in Luang Prabang and cruise upstream.

Two Night Itinerary Includes Kamu Lodge

You may have noticed our overnight Beyond Luang Prabang trip that includes an overnight trip to Kamu Lodge, a unique eco-lodge on the banks of the Mekong. You can combine Way Beyond Luang Prabang with Kamu Lodge by adding an extra night either upstream or downstream.

The Schedule 

Downstream operation: Depart from Houey Say at 09:00. Lunch served aboard. From May through September departures are every Monday and Friday. From October through April departures are on Monday, Thursday and Friday. Arrive Luang Prabang before sundown.

Upstream operation: Depart Luang Prabang at 07:30. Light breakfast and lunch served aboard. May through September departures are every Wednesday and Saturday. October through April departures are Tuesday, Wednesday Saturday.

Boats do not operate in June.

The River Boat 

The Luang Say river boat combines the traditional design of wooden Lao river craft with modern engineering. The boat has a steel hull and carries all the necessary safety equipment. A trained mechanic travels with every sailing. There is snack and beverage service aboard.

Chiang Rai Hotels 

Choose between the three-star Wiang Inn,  the four star River House Resort and Spa, or the five star Legend Hotel in Chiang Rai. In the village of Pak Beng, the mid-point in the cruise, you stay in the Luang Say Lodge, overlooking the Mekong River. It is as luxurious as a hotel can be so far from any major town or highway. Dinner and breakfast at the Lodge are included.

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