Pak Beng sits prettily half-way between Huay Xai and Luang Prabang, thus, if you’re making your way between these two favorite destinations of Laos on the two-day Mekong slowboat trips, you are almost guaranteed to make a one-night stop in Pak Beng. As a result, this sleepy town in Bakeo Province of Northern Laos boasts a number of guesthouses catering to passing tourists.
Set on the particularly scenic banks of the Mekong River, the sleepy riverside town of Pak Beng has little to attract tourists for a long stay. Most tourists likely see that the town is simply an unavoidable stopover where you can find a bed, eat something and have a good night's sleep before continuing your onward journey. As the voyage between Huay Xai and Luang Prabang is a spectacular route which is popular with travelers seeking the river life experience, Pak Beng is bustling with the madding crowds once the boats arrive in the afternoon, then become lazy quiet when they depart the next morning. The main tourist activities you can enjoy are walking around a few streets, sampling local sweets and pastries, relaxing at one of Western-friendly cafes with balcony for a stunning sunset view over a long stretch of the Mekong, and having fun at some bars in the town.
However, for visitors with more time, Pak Beng still has it own special features that make you stay for a while. In the morning, taking a walk up to the local market is a great idea. You can see a variety of local produce, get a glimpse of the resident’s daily life and even taste a heartful breakfast. Then, there are several touring choices you can consider, such as trekking to surrounding local communities, venturing out of town by tuk-tuk to the steep hills for nice views down to the countryside and the Mekong below, or taking a 2-day cycling from Pak Beng to Oudom Xay. While in the town, you can also take your time exploring the two wats in Pak Beng, Wat Sin Jong Jaeng and Wat Kok Koh. Though both are not particularly noteworthy, they do offers great views over the town, especially during the sunset.