Photo: The Mekong passing by.

Introduction

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The provincial capital of Bolikhamsai province in central Laos, Paksan or Pakxan is a blip of a town that sits at the confluence of the Nam San and Mekong rivers, almost opposite the small Thai town of Bueng Kan.


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It’s little more than a pivot point; traffic from Vientiane actually has to go north before heading south on Route 13 and Paksan is on the arc of the downward turn. For travellers, the only likely reason to find yourself setting foot here is as a pitstop before swivelling north up to Xieng Khouang province and Phonsavan, or heading into Thailand via the little used border crossing.

Paksan is an adequate rest stop, with backpacker-friendly BK Guesthouse, a poky bus station, market and tourism office, though there really isn’t anything to see or do in town. The locals here are friendly and a couple of restaurants along the Nam San, like Saiynamsun at the bridge, provide the perfect opportunity to interact over a bottle of beer.

Paksan is about as low key as a provincial capital can get. Photo taken in or around Paksan, Laos by Adam Poskitt.

Paksan is about as low key as a provincial capital can get. Photo: Adam Poskitt

If you do decide to drop into the tourism office, which is inconveniently located on 4B two kilometres north of Route 13, be prepared to learn the phrase “bor mi” which means “don’t have”. Tours? Bor mi. Treks? Bor mi. Unlike its southern neighbour Khammouane, there are no tours, treks or guides available. English posters, free pamphlets and maps give some general information but the staff don’t speak English and the absence of tourist infrastructure means that Paksan actually isn’t the best jumping off point for exploring the province: Tha Khaek and ... Travelfish members only (Around 800 more words) ... please log in to read the rest of this story.


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