A jolt of adrenalin as your boat swings out to the side, taking you with it. A thump of your heart, or was that the thump of an underwater rock? There’s no time to tell, the white water is churning around you, the boat is moving fast, and you’re racing downwards towards who knows what. It’s thrilling, it’s scary, and you absolutely love it.
If you’re after adventure, then the Houy Bang Lieng with its class 2 and 3 rapids should be at the top of your list. From the plunging 120m falls of Tad Fane, this lively little river rapidly ducks and weaves into the broader waters of the Mekong, taking many an enthused adventurer along with it.
Down in the calmer, wide waters of the Mekong you’ll find the best way to see the beautiful 4,000 Islands is splashing about on a kayak. Take your own boat out or join a group and silently paddle your way around these spectacular and culturally interesting waterways. It is a very gentle and non-intrusive way to discover the scenic Mekong River, some stunning waterfalls and, if you’re very lucky, to see the highly endangered Irrawaddy dolphins.
You can rent kayaks from your hotel or some private operators. All kayaks come with life jackets and safety equipment, which is strongly recommended to wear as the Mekong has strong currents that you might not always see on the surface of the river.
The rivers of Southern Laos are classified as Class 1 or 2, easy and moderate. The exception is Houy Bang Lieng, which also has Class 3 sets and is recommended for skilled kayakers. The water level also has a marked difference on the experience, so take care when kayaking in the rainy season as the flow of water may be much more swift.