The Mekong River between the Laos border and Stung Treng is very heavy on stunning scenery and light on population. Wide sweeping stretches of river, swirling pothole currents, numerous sets of rapids, boulder outcroppings and forested landscape along the banks all await the boat travelers. Either for the travelers who want to continue on to Laos or for those who are interested in enjoying a wild stretch of the Mekong in Cambodia, it makes for a great trip. Indochina travel Laos
With a virtual forest of trees growing and countless sunken islands right in the middle of the river, the trip is difficult to downright impossible to make on this shallow stretch of the Mekong during the dry season. As they carefully try to choose the best way to guide their craft through the maze which is created by nature without losing a propeller to the river, the trip becomes a barrier course for the boat drivers during this time of the year. The period from May to November when sufficient upstream rains have increased the river to a level that allows the boats to carefully pass through, is the best time of the year to take this trip.
Although once getting to the border area, there is not a whole lot to do, travelers can leave their passport with Cambodian immigration (at the small checkpoint on the river’s west bank) and cross to the Laos side to look at the tiny market in the Laos village of Geedahn and have meal at a riverside restaurant.
Although you may be asked to see Cambodian immigration officers, you do not have to pay for it as it is not a fee set by the central government. On the Laos side of the river, you can also find a guesthouse to stay at near this village.
Which was built here for border traders that need a place to spend the night while losing the day light hours? Although overpriced, it is a nice enough place with a room including a fan and two big beds going for US$ 8 a night. Between dusk and midnight electricity is running. Ho Chi Minh city to Phnom Penh by boat
Head down to the riverbank area in Stung Treng town before 8:30 am and tell one of the operators of the small freight boats if you want to take the trip. The trip to the border area takes about 5 hours with the fare of 15,000 riel for one way trip, but as the swift current on this stretch of the Mekong pushes the boats right along, on the trip back south, it is cut down to just more than three hours.
Approach one of the small fiberglass boat operators, which have the 40-hp outboard motors and want US$20-$25 to make one-way trip if you want a faster journey- but as the trip time going upriver is cut down to only 1 hour, it is ideal if you are looking for fast fun or a quick trip.
On the return trip, you could save money by grabbing one of the slow boats, which are fast enough coming back downstream. A Lao visa in your possession and a stop at the main police station in Stung Treng town to get a letter of permission to cross the border at this point are essential if you want to cross into Laos using this route.
IV Team Blooging