Growing rapidly in popularity is the 300-km (186-mile) Mekong River trip between Luang Prabang and Huay Xai, across the river from Chiang Khong in Thailand. It's a leisurely journey on one of the world's most famous stretches of river. Your boat drifts along the meandering Mekong past a constantly changing primeval scene of towering cliffs, huge mud flats and sandbanks, rocky islands, and riverbanks smothered in thick jungle, also swaths of cultivated land, mulberry trees, bananas, and tiny garlic fields. There are no roads, just forest paths linking dusty settlements where the boats tie up for refreshment stops.
The only village of note is a halfway station, Pakbeng, which has many guesthouses and restaurants along its one main street, and seems to exist solely to serve the boat passengers who arrive each night. Once you arrive in Huay Xai (which has little of interest in itself other than the Gibbon Experience), a good way to return to Thailand is to cross the river to Chiang Khong and then take a bus to Chiang Rai, 60 km (37 miles) inland.