I have always dreamt of cruising the Mekong River. This week that dream came true. There are cheap public boats, but I have heard horror stories about how overcrowded they can be. This is high season, and its a long two day trip. I felt this is one of the times I must realize I am not that young. For those reasons I decided to book a cruise. I booked with Smile Mekong River Cruises and what a great choice it was.
The boat was big and beautiful, a great guide, non stop good food, serene scenery, interesting and informative stops at two villages, and some famous caves. We were a fun crowd of 13. Our guide Kae and the boat crew could not do enough for us – we all felt so pampered. It was lovely to be able to move around and sit inside or out. The boat was over 100 feet long, and all beautiful wood. The Captain and his family have living quarters at the back of the boat. We stopped at a hill tribe village that to this day does not use money – everything is bartered, including their electricity. We stayed in guesthouses overnight in Pak Beng, and a group dinner with free whisky from the cafe was lots of laughs. Our second day started seeing a working elephant having a bath in the river. It was an early morning start so we could stop at another village where three different hill tribes, that speak three different languages, all live together. I found it interesting the village with no money has electricity, and the one with money does not. Our last stop was famous caves full of Buddha statues. The scenery was incredible, the action on and along the river was interesting, and I now know why the company is called Smile – I smiled the entire time.