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A halfway riverine stop between Luang Prabang and Huay Xai (lunch for speedy longtails, overnight for slowboats), Pak Beng is short on architectural charm, but there are some good places to stay and nice spots to eat, including bakeries and Western-friendly cafes.

The best time to enjoy this one-street town is late afternoon from on high at one of the restaurant balconies clinging to its vertiginous slope, watching the Mekong slide indolently by in a churn of gingery eddies, dramatically framed by giant boulders and sharp jungle banks.

Best time to visit

The best time to visit PakBeng is between October to February, when the weather is not hot, and the humidity is manageable. It is an excellent time to be outdoors and enjoy boat rides on the Mekong.

Avoid the wet season from May to September as it rains heavily in Pakbeng.

Hottest seasons occur from March to April but people can still bare the temperature of 25°C (average), this period also considered as the second appropriate time for a visit.

Check the below table for the general idea of Pakbeng weather throughout the year.

Month Avg. High (°C) Avg. Mean (°C) Avg. Low (°C)
Jan 29 20.1 13.4
Feb 32.2 22.4 15.1
Mar 33.8 24.7 17.5
Apr 35 27.3 21.1
May 33.7 27.6 23.2
Jun 32.1 27.5 24
Jul 30.8 26.7 23.7
Aug 30.7 26.3 23.5
Sep 31.6 26.5 23.2
Oct 31.7 25.6 21.3
Nov 30.8 23.3 18.1
Dec 28.7 20.7 14.9

Pakbeng's current weather and 7-day forecast


Pak Beng is a small town in northern Laos which is actually more of a village stop-off than anything else. The reason for its fame however is that this is the place where the boats stop on the way from Luang Prabang to Huay Xai or the other way around.

There are a few temples here that are worth seeing however, and if you have time you can also venture into the neighbouring villages for a slice of local life.

Here are the best things to do in Pak Beng:

1. Take the slow boat along the Mekong

Pak Beng is known as the stop off point between Huay Xai and Luang Prabang, and many people choose to make this trip using the slow ferry.

If you choose this option, then it will take you two days to travel between the two cities, but this is part of the charm of this mode of transportation.

The slow boat harks back to a different era of travel when people were in much less of a hurry than they are nowadays and you will be able to take in the gorgeous views along the way which makes this the trip of a lifetime for many.

2. Try the local tipple

Many visitors tend to think that the local tipple in Laos is Beer Lao.

If you want to try something a little different however, and a little more authentic, then you may want to ask for the ‘lao lao bong’ which is a kind of local moonshine.

This is made from water which is added to fermented rice, and while it may not sound very appetising, it is one of the local delicacies in the country.

Just make sure you drink it through a straw as is the local custom.

3. Trek to a local village

There is not much in the way of tourist infrastructure in Pak Beng but a few tours have started up in the area in recent years.

These include treks which will take you out into the local area.

The countryside around Pak Beng is covered in small villages which are the homes of local communities and you can now hike out to these and see how people have loved here for centuries.

A few of the tours offered from Pak Beng also give you the chance to stay overnight in the village.

4. Have a drink overlooking the water

As Pak Beng is a well known stop off between Huay Xai and Luang Prabang, you will find a clutch of restaurants and bars in town.

One of the most famous is Hive Bar which is located on the main strip and this is known as the liveliest in Pak Beng.

Hive Bar is open later than most other spots in town and they serve cold drinks and play dance music if you want to enjoy the only real nightlife on offer in Pak Beng.

5. Shop at the market stalls

As you would expect, there is not much in the way of shopping in Pak Beng.

If you want to buy some food however, before you take the boat either to Luang Prabang or Huay Xai, then you need to check out the local market stalls that are located along the main road.

Here you will find crunchy local baguettes which are filled with an array of ingredients like omelets or cheese and these will keep you going on the long boat journey.

Also note that some of the boats do not have food on board so you will need to plan accordingly.

6. Take a tuk-tuk into the countryside

Depending how long you plan to stay in Pak Beng you may want to head a little further afield.

The best way to do this in town is to hire a tuk-tuk which is a motorized trishaw and then zoom off into the surrounding area.

Here you will pass lush rice paddies as well as charming little local villages and as the area around Pak Beng is rather hilly, this is a much easier way of seeing everything there is to see quickly and easily.

7. Admire Wat Sin Jong Jaeng

This temple dates from the French colonial period, although keep in mind that it has also been renovated since that time.

There are a number of murals here which are of interest, especially as some of them appear to include Western figures said to be former French colonialists.

The wat is also on a hill so try and plan to be here around sunset for the best views.

8. Walk around town

There is not much to see in Pak Beng but it makes a nice spot to go for an afternoon walk, especially if you are fresh off the boat.

There is a central main road in the town which is lined with restaurants and bars, and you can also head off the beaten track and visit spots such as the two main temples which are a little way out of the center.

One thing to note is that Pak Beng is rather hilly, so you need to have a relatively good level of mobility (and some good footwear) if you want to get out into the countryside.

9. Eat at Khopchaideu

Also located along the Mekong River is Khopchaideu which has some truly delicious Indian fare.

Laos is actually famous for its Indian curries, flatbreads and sauces, so make sure not to miss these when you are in the north of the country.

They also give Indian classics a local twist, such as serving up imaginative plates like buffalo masala.

Definitely if you are in Pak Beng then this is one not to miss.

Accommodation in Pakbeng is generally of a basic standard, with some cheapies leaving much to be desired. Most places line the main road through town and the road that splits left at the pier and follows the river.

Budget options

DP Guesthouse

All renewed and nicely presented, DP Guesthouse is the most modern-looking guesthouse in town – and the opening rates are excellent value.
The clean rooms have new laminate flooring, the hot-water showers have shower curtains and a bedside table even doubles as a small desk. The comfortable beds have new linens. Because it’s owned and operated by Shompoo Cruise, the reception speaks English and is more professional than most in town. A February 2015-opened adjacent flashpackery restaurant serves Western fare.

Address: Pakbeng, main street

Room rates: US$20 to 50

Mekong Riverside Lodge

A series of bamboo bungalows perched on the edge of the Mekong is what you get at Mekong Riverside Lodge.

The basic huts are sturdy, come with soft beds made with crisp white linen, dimly lit hot-water bathrooms and best of all, magnificent balconies on which to observe the comings and goings on the river and at the pier. 

Address: Pakbeng, left road along the Mekong

Room rates: US$20 to 50

Mid-range options

Pakbeng Lodge

Hardly anyone stays in Pakbeng for more than one night – but Pakbeng Lodge gives you good reason to.

Located on the banks of the Mekong less than 500 metres west from the pier, the hotel block is new yet tasteful and it maintains a traditional feel – something the town seems devoid of. Every room has large windows, wood floors and a balcony overlooking the river. The gardens and grounds are exceptionally pretty. 

Address: Pakbeng, left road along the Mekong

Room rates: over US$100

Luang Say Lodge 

This lodge was built for the Luang Say Cruises’ wealthier travellers and while priority goes to their groups if rooms are available, outside guests can book. The solidly built bungalows are designed to feel like an early explorer’s lux base camp: bamboo thatch walls, colonial-style teak furniture and fittings, dark hardwood floors, dreamy mosquito-netted beds, ensuite bathroom and a sigh-worthy vista. 

Address: Pakbeng, 1.3 km from town

Room rates: US$50 to 100

Deluxe options

Le Grand Pakbeng

Set along side the mighty Mekong River and nestled in the undulating lush jungle of northern Laos, the Le Grand Pakbeng is a thriving oasis offering unforgettable experiences with indulgent all-inclusive benefits, featuring gourmet dining and enriching daily activities. This charming resort provides 45 nicely appointed villas and suites with private terraces and Jacuzzi, which are furnished using local artworks in a mix of the splendid scenery of the Mekong River and the surrounding mountainside. 

Address: Ban Donkham, Pakbeng District, Oudomxay Province, Laos

Room rates: over US$100

Once ranging from poor to mediocre, the food in Pakbeng has improved over the years, though it still tries to please all backpackers with long menus of ubiquitous dishes like fried rice, fried noodles, spring rolls and steak and chips. For a few restaurants, the increased competition, especially for tour group business, has given some impetus to produce better quality food, even if there will never be any return customers. The restaurants are bustling in high season.

Ounhoan Restaurant is a lively spot with long wood tables, music and friendly staff making for a convivial atmosphere. The Lao/Thai soups and curries, at 35,000 kip, are spot on and even though the restaurant had several large groups and was bursting at the seams when we went, we didn’t have to wait too long for our food. It’s across from Phonemany Guesthouse and Restaurant, which is itself packed nightly. The large menu signboard here is the same as the other restaurants in town but it attracts most people. Maybe it’s the building’s neon green facade or the flashy "Taxi Pizza" franchise stand in front. It has the usual fare of stir-fries, spring rolls and steaks.

DP Restaurant opened in February 2015. It’s the most mainstream Western eatery in town, with sleek signage, a brightly lit interior and even outlets in the walls so flashpackers can recharge their precious electronic connections to the outside world. Though it doesn’t have as much earthy backpackery character or ambience as some of the other joints in town, we appreciate that their menu is small and focused on Western fare instead of running the gamut of generic Asian dishes. Mains from 25,000 kip.

There are two Indian restaurants in town, one good and one poor. The restaurant on the main road in the centre of town is the most popular but it serves up slop and soggy bread. It fills your stomach – but that’s all. The better option for Indian food is a short walk up the left road from the pier, across from Mekong Riverside Lodge. Kopchai Deu is much more like authentic Indian food and the chef obviously puts a bit of effort into the food. Often you’ll be enticed inside with a free bottle of lao-lao.

There are quite a number of restaurants all claiming to be bakeries selling such delights as bagels and baguettes but in reality the bagel is a simple airy hamburger bun and the baguettes are Asian hotdog buns. Many of these places do roaring trade in the morning as travellers grab food for the river journey.

Monesavan Bakery is the best of them. It’s located directly across from the same-named guesthouse close to the pier – and it entices with an attractive display of fresh baked goodies including a nut-topped banana cake worthy of sharing with new mates on the slow boat. And screw instant coffee! They have a proper coffee/espresso machine to boot.

A decent, clean noodle soup stand serves Lao fer diagonally across from Donevilasuk Guesthouse. You get a big bowl and plenty of fresh herbs and greens to add in. "Bo sai sin" if you want it without meat, otherwise you’ll probably have a choice of pork, chicken or buffalo.

Rather than have your guesthouse make you a lunch box for the next day, you can wait until the morning when there’s a much bigger range of sellers and sandwich stalls competing for your business -- you can see the ingredients they are using and the prices are better.

Get in

Most visitors will have to stop here over-night on the slow-boat trip to/from Luang Prabang. It`s also possible to arrive by speedboat en route to the north. Much more uncomfortable than the slow boat, however you will arrive before the slowboat so you have the option of choosing a guesthouse and showering with no queues. You also get to see the town as the only Westerner. Another possibility is to reach the place by bus-- this is a rough and long option.

By boat

The boat landing is at the end of Rd 2 on the Mekong. Slow boats leave in the morning in both directions. They depart when full but expect to start at around 09:00. Arrive early to get one of the better seats (as far away from the loud engine as possible). The dropping off boat normally arrives at about 17:00, but this is Laos, so bear in mind that this is a guideline. Laos transportation departs when the driver can be bothered. It's best just to relax and enjoy the peace and quiet. And have a beer, of course.

By bus

Pick-ups make the trip to Udom Xai around 07:00 and leave at the northern end of town on Rd 2.

A bus Leaves at 12:00 from Muang Ngeun (near the Thai-Lao border ), costs 30,000 kip, and takes 1.5 hours.

We recommend you check the latest bus schedule and price via

Get around

There are only a few streets, so walk around. Most of the guesthouses are along the first 50 m of the main street as you head up the bank.

With the roads and particularly the rocky bank just above the boat landing being very steep, it might seem tempting to accept an offer for someone to carry your bag for you. Just ensure that if you do so you agree on the size of the tip beforehand.

Contact us to get more information


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Taking a cruise on the fascinating Mekong River offers a unique and memorable travel experience. The Mekong River, one of the longest rivers in Asia, flows through several countries, including China, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam. Each destination along the river offers its own distinct cultural, historical, and natural attractions. In this article, we will go over what you can expect when cruising the Mekong River. 


Despite being open to tourism for the past two decades, Laos remains a destination brimming with hidden treasures and unexplored gems, awaiting the arrival of curious adventurers.

Among these remarkable places is the Xe Champhone Loop, an enchanting location that captures the essence of Laos.

In early September 2022, we had the privilege of embarking on an Educational Tour organized by the esteemed Tetraktys Organization. Our objective was to delve into the wonders of this loop and promote its allure to international tourists.

During our expedition, we were awe-struck by the captivating sights and valuable insights we gained. The area boasts an abundance of captivating natural landscapes, rich traditional culture, and warm-hearted hosts.

We have compiled comprehensive information about this captivating region below.

Stay connected to discover more about this hidden gem!


The romance of train travel is alive and well in Laos. The recently-completed high-speed railway that stretches from Vientiane, through Laos, and into southern China is operating ‘full steam’ ahead. 


Luang Prabang will celebrate the boat racing festival (Boun Souang Heua) in Namkhan River during Buddhist Lent Period, on August 26th, 2022.

A notice issued by Luang Prabang provincial office says that Luang Prabang will arrange Boun Hor Khaopadapdin, an annual festival held to feed spirits with home-made parcels of food, and the boat racing activities along Namkhan River. 

The province intends to promote the traditional festival and practices in hopes of attracting more domestic and foreign tourists, generating revenue for locals.

Traditional racing boats are made of a single tree and can accommodate up to fifty rowers.

The boats are considered sacred, are cleaned, and are given offerings which are believed to bring victory to the team.

In the downtown heart of Luang Prabang, there will also be gatherings and markets.

The festival will be held on August 26th, 2022, the same day with Boun Khao Padapdine.

Covid-19 put a stop to traditional customs and festivals for almost three years, but now that the measurements have been relaxed, tourist destinations in Laos expect to recommence festivities and offer hope for travelers.


How long to spend in Laos may seem like a ridiculous question to address, but if you have plenty of time and aren’t sure how much to dedicate, this blog will definitely help you out. 

How long can you stay in Laos? 

Well, as long as you like! From 7 days to a month, there are various ways you can travel across Laos and uncover its secrets. Advising an ideal trip length for Laos is a bit of a complex challenge, as it depends on several factors such as the places you wish to visit, the activities you plan to join, or if you want to combine Laos with its neighbor countries. 

Stay tuned! We are going to sort all these things out including the step-by-step guide to create the best itinerary in Laos.


The Rocket Festival (Boun Bang Fai) is a merit-making ceremony traditionally practiced by ethnic Lao people near the beginning of the wet season in numerous villages and municipalities, in the regions of Northeastern Thailand and Laos. Celebrations typically include preliminary music and dance performances, competitive processions of floats, dancers and musicians on the second day, and culminating on the third day in competitive firings of home-made rockets. Local participants and sponsors use the occasion to enhance their social prestige, as is customary in traditional Buddhist folk festivals throughout Southeast Asia.

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