Pakbeng is not high on the list of luxury travel destinations – a small town on the side of the Mekong, well upstream of Laos’ pearl, Luang Prabang. Pakbeng’s main distinction for travellers has long been as an overnight stop for weary backpackers taking the boat trip from the Thai-Lao border at Chiang Kong-Huay Xai to Luang Prabang itself.
It is, therefore, of some note that a global winner of the 2012 World Luxury Hotel Awards is to be found here – specifically, the Luang Say Residence in Pakbeng has been named best Luxury Boutique Hotel for 2012. Those with the time to travel, can take the all-inclusive Luang Say cruise down (or up) the Mekong from Huay Xai and Luang Prabang, sit back and watch the forest-covered mountains of Northern Laos slip by, coasting past fishing villages and traditional trading boats. This two day cruise includes a one night stay at the Luang Say Residence – a luxury alternative connecting Luang Prabang and Northern Thailand.
Luang Prabang is well-connected, and a wonderful place to spend a few days – colonial and Lao architecture, pagodas housing large monastic communities, and a base for all sorts of adventures from easy half day trips to longer overnight expeditions.
But what about Thailand? Over the Mekong from Huay Xai is Chiang Kong, just over two hours from Chiang Rai, and even closer to the Golden Triangle itself. This confluence of the Ruak and Mekong rivers, where Myanmar, Laos and Thailand meet, has long been considered the heart of the old SE Asian poppy-growing area. It is now the home to some rather stunning properties including the Four Seasons Tented Camp and Anantara Golden Triangle – these two luxury resorts are possibly the finest places to stay for those interested in spending some quality time with these fabulous animals.
Our suggestion for a 2 week break – Start in Bangkok, head north to the Golden Triangle for a Mahout Course, wend your way down the Mekong via Pakbeng to soak up some culture in Luang Prabang – then head south to Siem Reap for Angkor, and fascinating new adventure and nature tours. Then home, or Phnom Penh and some beach time, if you have more time… exciting new possibilities with ABOUTAsia.