Mekong Kingdoms Sunset Cruise: the sunset cruise in Luang Prabang you cannot miss

Right before the daylight dips behind the jungle-covered mountains of Luang Prabang, tourists sit on the banks of the Mekong to witness the end of the day that was. Basking in the golden light of the low-hanging sun, Luang Prabang steps fully into its best self.

It’s because of this, its “unspeakable beauty” as the late Anthony Bourdain put it, that sunset cruises along the Mekong River has become a “must-do” for most travelers visiting this tiny UNESCO town.

For only the second time ever throughout my collective time in Luang Prabang, I got the opportunity to ride in a long, wooden boat as the night kissed the sky. This time, I wasn’t on a friend’s boat, but rather an eco-luxury cruise with Mekong Kingdoms. Canapés, cocktails, and captivating scenery filled my two-hour float with Mekong Kingdoms, and it’s a night I won’t easily forget.


READ ON FOR MY FULL REVIEW OF MEKONG KINGDOMS’ SUNSET CRUISE + PHOTOS FROM AN UNFORGETTABLE NIGHT


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ALL ABOARD

Walking into the beautifully designed Avani+ Hotel, I was overcome by the warm greeting we received. We were welcomed and escorted to a cozy seating area to wait until the private golf cart drove us to the boat pier on the Mekong. Upon reaching the pier, our driver walked us down the concrete steps to the river where our boat and attendants greeted us with a welcome drink cocktail made with lemongrass and ginger. It was remarkably good. Like, dangerously delicious. I genuinely could have downed way too many more and gotten way too loose, but self-restraint prevailed {read: it was a Monday night and I had articles due the next day}.

We were hosted on the Mekong Kingdom’s 42-meter long “Play” boat. This sophisticated boat was perfect for a night of mini-luxurious and relaxing ambiance. The boat featured open sun beds at the front and an enclosed lounge room in the back. In the middle, near the bar, were couches and cozy chairs. No matter where you sit on board, there are full views of the Mekong and the mountains on either bank.

The supervisor and the captain gave the group a quick safety briefing and let us know that snacks would be provided as we cruised. They also let us know that the boat would slow down nearer to sunset so that we could get beautiful views of the sun setting between the mountains. Then we were off!

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A TASTE OF LUXURY

As a traveler with a mid-range budget, I get the biggest kick from the littlest of luxuries. And, by no means were the luxuries offered on Play little. As soon as the boat engine began to hum, food service started. Unlimited banana chips, full-portioned salads, endless fresh fruit, and cashew brownies were some of the many dishes that graced our table. For the carnivores onboard, a sampler platter with various chicken snacks were served, including chicken curry in a tart crust, shredded chicken in a miniature baguette, and chicken spring rolls with sweet chili dipping sauce.

Every single dish brought out from the kitchen was a delight. The salad was crunchy and the fruit was fresh and juicy. The carnivores on deck seemed to rave about the chicken platter, especially the chicken curry. While the cruise was only supposed to be serving snack foods, I felt full. I was afraid I might sink the boat after eating all the goodies, but it seemed to float fine despite my high caloric intake.

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CRUISE COMFORTS

As the boat glided through the Mekong, I couldn’t help but notice how comfortable I was. With a variety of seating options and viewpoints onboard, there wasn’t a bad seat to be had. Air-conditioning was available in the enclosed part of the cabin, though it wasn’t turned on the particular January evening of my cruise since it wasn’t needed. The lights dimmed with the evening and music set the perfect ambiance. Fresh floral arrangements sat on the tables. The toilets on board were clean with sweet-smelling soaps. Everything about the cruise whispered comfort.

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SUNSET SPOT

The boat slowed and everyone gathered quietly to watch the day lay down behind the mountains. The sky turned from bright white to a deep orange and then, within minutes, it was gone. I had plenty of time to take approximately 123,456,544 photos of the sunset but, more importantly, I had plenty of time to reflect on the day, on what I had accomplished, and what I desired to do before the next sunset. Life in Laos tends to move slowly, especially in Luang Prabang. It’s something I love about this little corner of the world and something I’ll miss most after leaving. I’m so thankful that I had the opportunity to join Mekong Kingdoms and appreciate this dot on the map.

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A CHANGE IN PERSPECTIVE

Truth be told, I’m a sunrise girl…I mean, if there were such a thing. I like waking up early. I like my morning routine. I like starting the day. I like the freshness and hope I associate with sunrises and new days waiting to be had. But my two hours spent floating down the Mekong in luxury made the sunset feel like a mini-celebration of all that I had accomplished in the past 24 hours. You could say it was wonderful enough to convince me to convert to night delights.

I struggled to find anything wrong with my time aboard the Mekong Kingdoms’ cruise. As someone who prides herself on honest reviews, it’s hard when an experience really is that good, as so many of them are. I was provided vegetarian options. The welcome drink was outrageously good. The seating was comfortable and varied. The music created the right atmosphere for relaxation and conversation equally.

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Disclaimer: I was a guest of Mekong Kingdoms, but all my opinions are my own and my experience is expressed authentically. 


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A FULL REVIEW OF THE MEKONG KINGDOMS SUNSET CRUISE
a full review of the Mekong Kingdoms Sunset Cruise in Luang Prabang, Laos