Pak Beng is a tiny harbour village on the Mekong-river. It is half-way between Huay Xai in north-western Laos and Luang Prabang, a world heritage town of UNESCO. As the trip takes two exhausting days with the slow river boat, back-packers have to stay overnight in Pak Beng. A much quicker but somewhat dangerous choice is to travel on the speed boat. Every year many speed boats run into rocks or sand banks and sink, particularly during the dry season when the waters are shallow.
We found Pak Beng to be an exciting place and stayed there for a couple of days. It felt as if one had moved many hundreds of years backward in time.
View of the Mekong River
It is advisable to get the visa for Laos yourself in some Lao embassy, e.g. in Bangkok. It is also possible to arrange for the visa at some of the border crossings and at the international airport of Vientiane "on arrival". Check this before leaving, rules may have changed.
Many Thai travel agencies also take care of visa issues. Try to find a reputable one as prices and delivery times differ a lot.
Onboard a speedboat
Part of the Pak Peng harbour
Water level is low during the dry season
Liz is enjoying the sunset in the harbour
There is probably not even one Lao village without at least one Buddhist temple
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