Pakbeng is in Bakeo Province, Northern Laos.
This small village lies half-way between Huay Xai and Luang Prabang, perched high on the banks of the Mekong river. You will likely be in Pakbeng because the two-day boat between Huay Xai and Luang Prabang has to stop for the night, and a number of guesthouses have been set up to cater for the passing tourists. It`s also the eastern end of Road 2, originating in Udom Xai. To call Pakbeng sleepy is an understatement. It's quiet to the point of being dead. Still there are sufficient restaurants for one pleasant night.
24 hour electricity arrived relatively recently in Pakbeng, but you'll still find most of the town is shut down by 10pm. What Pakbeng does have to offer is a good night's sleep and sunset views over a particularly scenic stretch of the Mekong.
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 lines/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.
The boat-landing is at the end of Road 2 on the Mekong. Slow boat leave in the morning in both directions. They depart when full but expect to start at around 9am. 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 5pm, but this is Laos, so bear in mind that this is a guideline. Laos transportation goes when the driver can be bothered. It's best just to relax and enjoy the peace and quiet. And have a beer, of course.
Pick-ups make the trip to Udom Xai around 7am and leave at the northern end of town on Road 2.
a bus Leaves at 12:00 from Muang Ngeun ( near the Thai-lao Border ) costs 30,000 kip takes 1.5 hours (As to October 10)
There are only a few streets, so walk around. Most of the guesthouses are along the first 50m of the main street as you head up the bank.
With the roads and particularly the rocky bank just above the boat-landing site 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.
There is nothing much to see except the mighty Mekong and rural Laos life.
A couple of local wats may interest the obsessive temple enthusiast.
Find a bed, eat something and sleep ... and prepare for another day on the boat
Recently a local guy  there started trekkings, with a sleepover in a hilltribe village . Can be nice before you get on that slowboat again.
Pakbeng is remote and offers very little in the way of shopping, but if you're about to spend the rest of the day on a boat it would be a good idea to pick up snacks from the row of market stalls than line the main road in the morning
Several guesthouses and some "restaurants" offer food, but don`t expect anything special. There's an Indian restaurant with decent curries along the main street, called "Hassan". The friendly manager will also package meals for consumption on the slow-boat. Be careful while paying though, he might tend to give you back too litle or hand you unusable (too old, broken) dollar-notes. (NEVER accept a dollar-note that's a little ripped, it's unusable!)
Locals set up small sandwich stands along the road to the waterfront each morning. You can buy basic sandwiches of bread and Laughing Cow cheese. If not, ask your guesthouse to provide you with a packed lunch, as you are going to be in for a 9 hour boat ride without meals. Some boats do have some food and drinks for sale too.
Standard beer options are available from guest houses, at inflated prices. To ensure a good nights sleep, try the local "lao-lao bong" -- water poured over fermented rice and slipped through a straw.
Drugs.. everyone's selling it in Pakbeng, and they happily double their profits by scamming you. After having sold you drugs, someone will appear with a police badge, and ask for a hefty bribe in exchange for not giving you in.
Standards are low at this village near-the-end-of-the-world. Just look around as things change fast. The guesthouses in Pakbeng are all along the main street, just hundred meters away from the boat docking area. A room with shared bathroom will cost about 3US$, while an own Bathroom will costs an extra 1-2US$ (rooms can mostly be paid in Thai Bath and Laos Kip as well). There might be places where you can get a room for 2 dollars (afther consulting 10 I found one), but you 'll have to search long and bargain. Considering hot water, make sure that your bathroom has an individual electic boiler, as there are guesthouses with central boilers that only provide a certain amount of hot water for the whole guesthouse on a first-come-first-serve basis. Touts are prevalent in Pakbeng, and you will be bothered. However, these touts are very laid back, especially after Thailand. If you are after a really cheap option, I was able to get a mattress and a Mosquito net under a veranda for about 0.50US$. Just watch out for monkeys.
It is possible, but not necessary to book accomodation in Pakbeng in advance, as there are plenty of guesthouses and almost all visitors stay only one night.
The exception to this rule is if you're looking for something a little more upmarket, in which case you have only two choices.
Pakbeng is in the Golden Triangle, and in the midst of one of the world's drugs production areas. From the moment you set your foot in Pakbeng, you will be offered weed and opium, plus cocaine and amphetamines, the latter usually Burmese in origin. If you are stupid enough to buy anything, you are highly likely to soon be approached by a different guy with a more or less fake police badge, who apparently will give you in to the police if you don't pay, usually USD 20-50. It cannot be said often enough; when in Asia, stay away from drugs!!