Everything you Need to Know about Bokeo - Laos

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).

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.

Bokeo Nightlife

Bokeo is the smallest province in Laos and visitors might have a difficult time looking for a decent large and busy bar to drink in. Bokeo's spotlight is focused more on its traditional ways.

Bokeo Shopping

Muang Bokeo Huay Xai Market is a major shopping location. Besides fresh meats, fruit, vegetables, and food ingredients, the stalls surrounding market also offer local products. Also simply known as Talad Sao, Muang Bokeo Huay Xai market is located on Saykhong Road, in the southern part of the town. This presents a good opportunity to observe local lifestyles and is a good place to shop for local products at cheap prices. The market sells fish and meat, fresh vegetables, and some main household products. This is also the main road-transport depot.

Bokeo Restaurants

Decent restaurants serving local food and simple western dishes can easily found along the Mekong River. Several of them offer outdoor seating with big patios overlooking the river.

One of their highlights is Lao-style barbecue, a tasty do-it-yourself menu with meats and veggies grilled and stewed by the customers themselves with combinations like Japanese Shabu-Shabu and Korean BBQ. Most of the guesthouses also have menus at reasonable prices. 

Chanhsy Restaurant Situated on the banks of the Mekong, and opposite the Post Office on the main street. Another good food place, serving Lao meals and service with a smile. A favourite with budget travellers. 

Khem Khong Restaurant

This riverside restaurant provides wooden tables under a thatched roof that overlooks the Mekong. The restaurant makes decent fried rice, fried noodles, and some other basic dishes at reasonable prices. Khem Khong Restaurant is located near the Immigration Office and the ferry pier.

Manirath Restaurant

A restaurant operating under the same roof as Manirath guesthouse. The restaurant is located on the main street, not very far from the border crossing pier and Immigration. A tidy restaurant with friendly staff offering choices of local food and standard Asian dishes like fried rice with a variety of meat.

Nut Pop Restaurant

Located on Saykhon Road, offers a long list of Lao dishes made from Mekong fish. Open-air seating is available while guests can also choose to sit in seperate 'salas'.

Saiyaponth Restaurant

On the left-hand side at the north end of Saiyaponth Road (just before the second bridge), Saiyaponth restaurant serves Lao food and the ubiquitous cook-it-your-self barbecue. Sometime there is a buffet menu on offer, please ask the attentive staff at the restaurant.

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