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I was just in Pak Beng and there are a few things that I found notable enough to share with whomever is planning a trip. First, if you buy a bus ticket from Pai, the travel agent office that they will drop you off at in the middle of the night will charge you $12 US extra to get a visa for Laos. The border is a five minute walk. Don't let them rush you into an immediate boat ride. Chiang Khong is nice and you can hire a private driver just across the street to drive you to the Golden Triangle. For a car load, it will cost 700 baht (the tour agency from Pai wanted to charge 1500 baht for the same trip). We chose to stay the night at a great guest house called BOOM HOUSE. It's just behind the travel agency. Further, I would buy the slow boat tickets across the street. It's a bit more expensive, but you get a better lunch and the business owner is honest. The slow boat views are absolutely beautiful and well worth everything. Just take it slow and don't let anyone rush you.
Also, in PAK BENG, my camera was stolen, I believe from my room. It was only there for about 10 minutes, but the drug dealers are everywhere and the folks know that you are rushed in and out very quickly. TAKE EXTREME CAUTION WITH YOUR BELONGINGS.

I'm pretty confused by the story here: so the travel agent in Pai tried to cheat them, and the great guest house in in Chiang Khong? And then the boats go from CK to Pakbeng? Jpatokal 09:37, 4 February 2007 (EST)

The slowboat that runs the Mekong from Huay Xai (a two-minute boat ride across the river from Chiang Khong) stops in Pakbeng for the night before continuing to Luang Prabang. Sounds like we could data mine for the guest house in Chiang Khong and car&driver cost to the Golden Triangle, plus warnings about watching your stuff (sorry, but 'duh') and buying visas only from the officials at the border in Chiang Khong... Maj 23:10, 4 February 2007 (EST)