The first day on the slow boat can be a real nerve breaking experience where you might regret that you didn't spend your money on the bus trip instead and you wonder why you ran yourself into this situation. - The boat is a true on-the-water-floating party location under imature young (mostly English speaking) backpackers who behave disrespectful to the Lao culture, drinking beer all day and turning the boat into a drunk party area with music tuning out of their fake Made-In-Thailand portable speakers which sound quality is awefull. Don't expect this party to end during the boat ride. No, it will first end after 8 hours when the boat arrives at the first stop which is Pakbeng. This is a small village full of guest houses for all the slow boat travelers who continue the next day to Luang Prabang which economy is only based on tourism. So everything here is adjusted to typical slow boat travelers: there are restaurants, guest houses and bars everywhere!
The next morning it's time to get on the boat again. But be wise and choose the one that comes first. On the second day the travelers are divided onto two boats. People who are hung over from partying on the boat would take the later one. It's defenitly worth it to get up a bit earlier and to hop on the more quiet slow boat. Sit in front where the engine at the back can't be heard that much and where all the friendly locals get on during the boat trip. The second day was defenitely more like what I was expecting and the view is amazing! Don't forget to bring your own lunch because the boat only offers crackers or instant soup within the 8 hours. You can also buy drinks (water, beer, tea, coffee, soft drinks) on the boat and there's also a small rest room which always runs out of toilet paper so bring your own toilet paper with you.
Have a nice boat trip!
- AJ -