Across the Mekong to Don Sao Laos

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While visiting Northern Thailand on our honeymoon we found ourselves in the Golden Triangle. What is the Golden Triangle you ask? This is the area where Thailand, Myanmar, and Laos meet on the mighty Mekong River.

This area is known for its involvement and use in the Opium trade through the years. The river enabled the Opium to be transported from Myanmar and Thailand to China and Southern Southeast Asia.



Prior to our trip I had done some research on the area but hadn’t thought of taking a boat trip on the Mekong. When we heard that it would allow us to step foot on a province of Laos we decided, why not? We didn’t have enough time to visit Laos so we figured this was a good way to take a peek at the country.

We weren’t required to have a Visa but we were given a stamped card with the date. ( Cool, but nowhere near as cool as a passport stamp would have been!)

165137_10150108005667533_885385_nTo reach Don Sao, we boarded a boat that would sail up the Mekong- showing us some landscape views, a casino, and a giant Buddha before docking on the Laos side. The first thing you see as you near the Laos side is a trove of children that run down the hill and onto the banks of the river.

They are quite polite but very clear that they are there to beg for money from you. They are aggressive but harmless and I didn’t see one of them attempt to pickpocket (and I watched closely!)


No doubt about it, Don Sao is a tourist trap. However, it does give you a small glimpse of some of the Lao culture.  You walk off the dock right into a market. You can find anything imaginable therefrom knock off designer purses to authentic snake whiskey. 

Overall we spent 2 hours walking through the markets and watching as people bravely bought shots of the whiskey. NO thanks for this girl! Snakes alone give me the willies, not. gonna. touch. that.


You aren’t able to wander too far outside of the village and market area, but if you push yourself to the outskirts of this area you are able to witness some of the everyday life that goes on outside of the tourist area.

We saw children playing in the sand, chickens wandering in the bushes, mothers doing laundry and men fishing on the banks of the mainland.


It wasn’t much of Laos, but the experience left us wanting more and we plan to spend some time in mainland Laos on our RTW next year. As for those wondering whether it is worth the 500 baht boat trip, CERTAINLY. 

Grab your cameras and prepare to find some great items and see some crazy snake whiskey displays.

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About Lina Stock

Lina is an award-winning photographer and writer that has been exploring the world since 2001. She has traveled to 100 countries on all 7 continents. Member: SATW, NATJA, ATTA, ITWA

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5 thoughts on “Across the Mekong to Don Sao Laos”

  1. Hi! I am looking forward to doing this over the weekend! I was curious, I understand that you got a stamped card in Laos, correct? However did you have to pass passport control leaving/entering Thailand at all? Thanks!

    • No we didn’t. It is one of those loophole places. It was heavily guarded to ensure no day trippers wandered away into Laos undocumented though! Enjoy, it’s interesting.

      • Have you done it more recently? When we did something similar in 2017 they took our passports and gave us a temporary receipt for them, and our passports were stamped.

  2. Thanks for the information in this helpful post. We recently made the same short trip up the Mekong River and had a similar reaction. I guess it’s a good place to buy knock-off purses, but most of the other trinkets can also be found in the Night Markets in Chiang Mai.

    • Thanks for stopping by! Yes, it was a cool experience but more or less a market in Laos. The Mekong was pretty cool though!


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