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Between the northern border town of Chiang Khong in Thailand and the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Luang Prabang, Laos, there is a slow, slow boat. You always hear about it along the backpacker trail as a ‘must-do’. It sounds charming, taking a long wooden boat along the river to your destination instead of a sketchy mini-bus, and the ride is gorgeous. But by slow they mean, it will take you two days. This means you have to essentially buy all your food (only cup of noodles and instant coffee on deck) and pay for a guest house overnight in the middle of nowhere.
Worth it? Maybe. Depending on where you are in your travels and how much time you have, the slow boat is definitely something to ‘check off your list’ and a good story (whether you had smooth sailing or were cramped with too many other backpackers on board). When I took the boat, I was actually coming from Laos into Thailand after three months on the road (including many boat rides…and train rides…and bus rides…) and itching to get back to Chiang Mai and start settling down. Two days on a boat drove me a little stir-crazy.
That said, I wouldn’t not recommend it…you just need to be aware of what you’re getting yourself into.
Have you ridden the slow boat between Thailand and Laos? What did you think? Any words of wisdom for other travelers considering it?