- Encounters with locals
- Culture (paddy field, coffee, tea ...)
- Off the beaten track
The only thing you need to remember when going to Pakbeng is to wrap up warmly! It's not hot in this region, especially if you go during the dry season. You can get there by taking a boat along the Mekong between Luang Prabang and the Thai border or catch a bus at Oudomaxay.
It's a stopover town, where you can spend the night and eat a hearty meal. Other than that, it's a chance to meet people and have some fun during the boat or bus journey. There are great photo opportunities along the Mekong, the sunrise and sunset in particular. You'll also need to negotiate hard with the locals who'll try to charge you more than you'd be expected to pay in a city.
I spent a great evening in Pakbeng with my fellow boat passengers, when we went for a meal at a restaurant at the end of the town's main road. The owner fluently spoke 4 languages - English, French, German included - and claimed to have learned them all by himself!
The plus side? The nighttime peace and quiet.
The downside? Not much to do; one night was enough.
During my trip to Laos I passed through the lovely village of Pakbeng, in the north of the country.
A single, partially tarmacked road runs through this village, which feels like the world's end. The population is largely Hmong and they live in typical bamboo stilt houses. The scenery is breathtaking. To give you an idea, this village sits on the flank of the mountain, beside the River Mekong. Only Laos can boast such a stunning landscape.
When you decide to leave this little, idyllic retreat, I suggest you hop on a boat and head down the Mekong. In about 8 hours you wll reach Houeisai to the north or Luang Prabang to the south.
As soon as you arrive in the little village of Pakbeng, you'll know that you're in the heart of Laos. My time here gave me the chance to meet numerous tribes, such as the Khamus and Laos Theung, who live close by.
Laotians are really friendly, smiley and happily approach visitors. Children in the village tried to sell us crafts, such as textile bags and wooden spoons. The level of poverty was apparent in some villages, where the houses were very basic.
If you've always wanted to ride on the back of an elephant, then head to the Mekong Elephant Camp where you can go on jungle treks and also watch the elephants taking a bath! They seem to be far better treated in this camp than elsewhere.
Learning about the daily life of these villagers was one of the most remarkable parts of my trip to Laos.