Bokeo is the smallest province in the country, but still a quite diverse region with nearly 32 ethnic groups in the local area. One of the tribes that has a great presence is the Lahu who speaks Tibeto-Burman, which is common in Thailand and northern Myanmar. Bokeo is located in an area regarded as the “Golden Triangle” and shares a board with Thailand, Myanmar and Luang Namtha.
The provincial capital of Bokeo is Houai Xay and has long remained a preferred town for trading in a variety of Chinese items. This region has Fort Carnot which is left over from the French colonial occupation, but isn’t open to visitors because it has now become a base of the Lao army. Also, by travelling south of town there is the possibility to explore a major sapphire mine that still exists in Indochina.
For the travellers on the Indochina tour packages that have an interest in archaeology, the trips north of Houai Xay to the ancient city of Souvannakhomkham makes it possible to see plenty of past dig sites.
Where to stay
Bokeo is a relativity small place to visit on the Laos tour packages and doesn’t have an extensive list of places to stay, although there is a few that are worth considering.
The Oudomphone 2 Hotel is well located in Houay Xai to make a great base for those travellers wishing to explore the local surroundings and the city. Plus, the convenient location makes it very easy to reach the must-see attractions. The rooms are clean and spacious and include facilities like Wi-Fi, shared TV lounge, luggage storage, laundry service and restaurant.
Eat and drink
A visit to Bokeo makes it possible to not only experience the provincial specialties, but also Lao staples like laap (minced meat salad), tam mak houng (spicy green papaya salad), and khao niaw (sticky rice). The local Khao soi (noodle soup) is one of the finest around.
A trip out of town to Ban Py Bounthong makes it possible to try the delicious foods served at the market stalls, with choices like khai phaen (riverweed snack), nor mai (baby bamboo shoot tips), paa douk (catfish) and khanom(sweets).
Bokeo has a useful market in town that sells a varied range of tourist goods, such as wooden kitsch, silk scarfs and T-Shirts. Plus, this market is likely to have something that can be picked up to serve as a gift or souvenir for family or friends.
Things to see and do
Houei Xai Town Tour
A complete tour of the hillside Houei Xai Town by tuk-tuk, motorbike or bicycle makes it possible to travel past a French fort, a market and ancient temples. The ancient Jom Khao Manilat temple is worth a visit while in the local area. The temple was built in teak in the 1880s and still remains in a quite pleasant condition. By climbing to the top of the hilltop where the temple stands, the view overlooking the town is quite stunning. Plus, the Jom Khao Manilat temple is well located and just a short distance from the ferry pier.
The Gibbon Experience
One of the best adventures in the Laos travel guide includes The Gibbon Experience that makes it possible to explore treetop accommodation and series of zip lines to get a perfect view of the rarely seen black-cheeked crested gibbons. The starting point at Ban Don Chai makes it possible to easily reach the semi-private tree houses that give the opportunity to watch on as the wildlife moves below. A typical trip can last for one or two days and includes the assistance of local guides to assist with fire-cooked meals, short hikes and to use the zip-lines.
Other features to explore while on the Gibbon Experience include visiting a waterfall swimming hole for a very relaxing time.