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  • Bokeo & Huay Xai

    • Located: in the northwestern of Laos (Northern Provinces)
    • Total area: 6,196 square kilometers
    • Population: 165,661
    • 05 Districts: Houai Xay, Ton Pheung, Meung, Pha-Oudom & Paktha
    • Capital of the province: Houai Xay

    Situated in the heart of the golden triangle, Bokeo is just over the border from Chiang Rai province in Thailand and also borders Myanmar while China is less than 100km away. Although Bokeo is the smallest province in Laos, it harbours a large number of interesting minority groups (approximate 30 ethnicities). The province split off from Luang Nam Tha and was created in 1983. The name Bokeo translates as ‘gem mine’ and the city is known as the ‘land of sapphires’. Panning for gold, and digging for precious stones is a major occupation here.

    Huay Xai, the capital provincial of Bokeo, sits on the bank of the Mekong River. Like most minor cities in Laos, several temples built in earlier centuries and surrounding villages seem to be the only attractions. However, Bokeo’s real economic strength is tourism. A holiday among a network of hunts and shelters built on top of trees in primary monsoon dry deciduous forest is a decidedly appealing one. A perfect spot where one can observe the forest’s rare habitants from above. Besides fascinating attractions and delightful activities, Houay Xai is also known as the gateway to explore the rest of Laos, a famous stopover spot for most arrivals before boarding a boat and heading southeast to Pak Beng and Luang Prabang. A trip up north on Bokeo’s winding and bumpy roads will lead to Luang Namtha and beyond.

    Over the centuries, Bokeo has remained an important stopover for Chinese traders traveling by boats between China and Thailand. Nowadays, the only connection between Bokeo and Chiang Rai is via ferry and speedboat. However, a bridge between Laos and Thailand is scheduled to open in 2012.

    Local Huay Xai market

    This is commonly known locally as the Morning Market and the best time to visit is early morning. The market is in the suburb of Ban Muangkeo. To get there, follow the main road south along the Mekong. After passing a hill, there is a turn-off to the left, which you should follow until you reach the place. Ask people for directions to make sure you don’t take the wrong turning.

    Fort Carnot

    On top of one of the hills in the center of the town is the ruins of the French colonial-era Fort Carnot. One of the towers can be climbed up for a good view around.

    The Gibbon Experience

    This is a forest conservation project that raises its funds through taking guests into the Bokeo Nature Reserve. Every other day there is a truck covering the 3.5 hours to the last village, where you start your hike to the project. Accommodation is provided in terrific treehouses which are constructed on giant trees over 40 m high. To access the houses, you glide on a cable from the surrounding hill range. There is an extensive cable network being set up to explore the canopy, providing breathtaking views of the scenery and probably due to its increasing popularity prices have recently increased.

    New Challenge Discovery

    A team of young Lao people organizing day trips in Bokeo Province (kayak, trekking, cycling, etc.). All the fund raised are used to help and support the children in Huay Xai countryside, providing opportunities to study English. Future plans include forest protection and education. If you come for the Gibbon Experience, then spend one day more with New Challenge Discovery.

    Daauw Village

    Located right at the city center next to the Temple. Getting off the beaten track, doing something original, leaving something behind for the local Lao people, at Daauw Village you also easily adapt to the traditional way of Lao Life and will get a deeper understanding of the Lao Culture by being part of their welcoming community. At Daauw you can join the locals around the campfire and have traditional foods in the evenings, teach English in the afternoons or join one of the many local workshops this place offers to the Lao people in the mountains. There is a Restaurant and Lounge Cafe, called Daauw Home.

    Sauna

    Massage service is provided in the sauna building (not expensive) and herbal teas. To find the sauna walk by the main road (along the river) from the village center (Lao-Thai ferry and Wat Chomkao Manilat) to the North and after crossing a bridge over a stream look at the left.

    Pandaw Laos Mekong Cruise Downstream

    Pandaw Laos Mekong Cruise Downstream

    11
    Days
    Vientiane → Sanakham → Pak Lai → Park Bor Village → Mouang Khai Village → Luang Prabang Province → Oudomxay Province → Pak Beng → Chiang Khong → Laos Cruise
    Enjoy the adventure of an epic overland trip to Laos. Start from China, this "Pandaw Laos Mekong Cruise Downstream" trip passes through the lands between Kunming and Luang Prabang. Discover stunning landscapes that very few travelers get to see, from remote villages with colourfully-costumed...
    Pandaw Laos Mekong Cruise Upstream

    Pandaw Laos Mekong Cruise Upstream

    11
    Days
    Vientiane → Sanakham → Pak Lai → Park Bor Village → Mouang Khai Village → Luang Prabang Province → Oudomxay Province → Pak Beng → Chiang Khong → Laos Cruise
    Enjoy the adventure of an epic overland trip to Laos. Start from China, this trip passes through the lands between Kunming and Luang Prabang. Discover stunning landscapes that very few travelers get to see, from remote villages with colourfully-costumed residents to nature reserves brimming...
    Culture and Beach Tour Indochina (16D15D)

    Culture and Beach Tour Indochina (16D15D)

    16
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    Chiang Mai → Golden Triangle → Pakbeng → Oudomxay → Luang Prabang → Siem Reap → Beng Mealea → Angkor Wat → Phuket
    This 16 day Culture and Beach Tour Indochina takes you through Thailand, Cambodia and Laos where you will witness the history of ancient empires, European colonization and subsequent decolonization. Though Indochina no longer exists, it still brings about an air of cultural mystery. Culture...
    Thailand Laos Explorer Tour (13D12N)

    Thailand Laos Explorer Tour (13D12N)

    13
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    Explore the best of Northern Thailand and Laos on this extra-special 13-day tour. With vibrant cities, see towering mountains, dense jungle, waterfalls, elephants, and bustling markets. Learn to cook delicious Laotian cuisine and have plenty of time to just relax amid some of the...
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