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Upper Mekong River Cruise

Oct 28 - Nov 12, 2021

16 days | Laos | alumni UBC Travel Club

The mighty Mekong runs the length of Laos, its course shaping the country’s history and culture. In a place where life is lived to the rhythms of “Mother River,” the Mekong is a valuable spiritual and material resource: a holy waterway lined with temples. A source of water for rice paddies and coffee plantations. A provider of food, in the form of endless varieties of fish. An indispensable thoroughfare for trading goods and transporting people. As Laos develops, an increasingly important yet deeply controversial source of hydroelectric power.

Our ten-night, exclusively chartered Upper Mekong River cruise is the perfect way to discover the cultural and ecological richness of life along this fabled river. Our journey combines visits to major cultural and religious sites and traditional villages with ample sailing time to enjoy the panorama of the brilliant green landscape.

We have exclusively chartered the newly built (2021) R/V Mekong Muse just for our group; enjoy all the comforts of handcrafted luxury, superb cuisine, and the intimacy of vessel with just 28 passengers. The boutique river ship features romantic French colonial décor inspired by the spirited heritage of the region, combined with elegant spacious suites with modern facilities. Picture yourself relaxing on the sun deck and watching the unfolding scenery as you cruise along the mighty Mekong River. Enjoy elegant and artistic furnishings, tempting signature dishes created by the chef to reflect exotic regional flavours, and outstanding hospitality.

Our adventure starts in the capital, Vientiane, where traditional Buddhist stupas sit alongside beaux-arts villas, a legacy of decades of French rule over Indochina. Friendly Vientiane offers excellent markets and plenty of cafés serving strong Lao coffee and baguette with local pâté. We then leave urban life behind to immerse ourselves in the northern Lao backcountry, where the lush jungle occasionally gives way to small market villages and natural treasures such as the Khaung Si waterfall.

We have two full days in the city of Luang Prabang, a Unesco World Heritage site full of beautifully preserved temples and boasting a dynamic culinary scene. Our river voyage ends at the Golden Triangle, a corner of Southeast Asia that’s had an outsize effect on global geopolitics owing to its role in opium production.

Our trip continues with four nights in the beautiful mountains of northern Thailand. Traditional and contemporary meet in Chiang Rai, where we’ll visit the workshops of prominent Thai artists and stop at a modern Hindu–Buddhist temple/art installation that combines religious and pop culture imagery. In Chiang Mai, historic temples take centre stage. We’ll admire the magnificent naga (dragon-headed serpent) staircase at Wat Pra That Doi Suthep and have an opportunity to meditate in the peaceful wooded setting of the 12th-century Wat Umong.

An optional pre-tour visit to the mystifying Plain of Jars and a post-tour stay in Bangkok round out this exceptional experience.


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alumni UBC Travel Club Expedition Cruise Cultural Explorations Alumni Expeditions Classic Explorations
Tour Cost (per person):
Approx. US$5995 - US$7995 (depending on cabin type)
Group Size:
Limited to 26 participants
Reserve my spot now!

What’s included: Accommodation for 5 nights based on double occupancy in hotels; ccommodation for 10 nights based on double occupancy on board the RV Mekong Muse; meals during the land itinerary: 4 Breakfasts, 2 Lunches, 3 Dinners; all meals while on board the RV Mekong Muse; presentations by our study leader and local guides; sightseeing with qualified English-speaking guides; all activities and entrance fees; airport transfers; taxes and gratuities; fully escorted by your Worldwide Quest tour leader.

On board the RV Mekong Muse: Complimentary coffee, mineral water, tea, soft drinks, local beer, local spirits, and juices while on board; complimentary imported house wine during dinner; complimentary local beer, soft drinks refreshed daily in suite minibar; complimentary aluminium water bottles for refilling; complimentary wifi; kimonos and slippers in your cabin.

"My favourite memory is our barbeque on the sandy beach near the caves in Laos" - Caroline. Y
"I greatly enjoyed interacting with the genuinely friendly people of Laos." - Quest Traveller
"Dancing with villages at a local festival was an amazing spontaneous experience" - Brenda. M

Itinerary at a Glance

DayActivity
1Meet in Vientiane
2Embarkation in Vientiane and a tour of the capital’s highlights
3Sailing the Mekong and an introduction to Lao culture
4Morning river cruise and afternoon exploration of Pak Lai market town
5Ban Mouang Village and an ambitious power project
6Xayaburi Dam to Kuang Si Waterfall
7Kuang Si Waterfall to Luang Prabang
8Luang Prabang
9Luang Prabang to Pak Ou
10In the backcountry - Pak Beng market town
11Pak Beng to Huay Xai
12Disembark and transfer to Chiang Rai
13Chiang Rai
14The “White Temple” and scenic drive to Chiang Mai
15A tale of two temples: Peaceful Wat Umong and golden Wat Doi Suthep
16Depart Chiang Mai
Download Itinerary

Ship Information

We have exclusively chartered the brand new 14-cabin Mekong Muse. This ship will begin sailing in summer 2021. The boutique river ship features romantic French colonial décor inspired by the spirited heritage of the region, combined with elegant spacious suites with modern facilities.

More photos and information for this new ship forthcoming!

Your Tour Leader

Paula Swart is a museum curator and expert on Asian culture and history. Paula has degrees in Sinology, Asian art history, Chinese history, and archaeology and has published several books and numerous articles on the art and architecture of Asian cultures. Paula is a lecturer at the University of British Columbia and has recently been teaching courses on UNESCO World Heritage sites at the UBC Summer Institute and the University of Victoria.

Email Us

Or call 1-800-387-1483 with any questions or to reserve your spot!

alumni UBC Travel Club Expedition Cruise Cultural Explorations Alumni Expeditions Classic Explorations
Tour Cost (per person):
Approx. US$5995 - US$7995 (depending on cabin type)
Group Size:
Limited to 26 participants

What’s included: Accommodation for 5 nights based on double occupancy in hotels; ccommodation for 10 nights based on double occupancy on board the RV Mekong Muse; meals during the land itinerary: 4 Breakfasts, 2 Lunches, 3 Dinners; all meals while on board the RV Mekong Muse; presentations by our study leader and local guides; sightseeing with qualified English-speaking guides; all activities and entrance fees; airport transfers; taxes and gratuities; fully escorted by your Worldwide Quest tour leader.

On board the RV Mekong Muse: Complimentary coffee, mineral water, tea, soft drinks, local beer, local spirits, and juices while on board; complimentary imported house wine during dinner; complimentary local beer, soft drinks refreshed daily in suite minibar; complimentary aluminium water bottles for refilling; complimentary wifi; kimonos and slippers in your cabin.

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Upper Mekong River Cruise

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