Area:              6,196 sqkm

 Population:   165,661 million

 Capital:            Northwestern of Laos

Language:       Lao, French

 Currency:        Kip

Situated in the heart of the golden triangle, Bokeo is just over the border from Chiang Rai province in Thailand and also borders Myanmar while China is less than 100km away. Although Bokeo is the smallest province in Laos, it harbours a large number of interesting minority groups (approximate 30 ethnicities). The province split off from Luang Nam Tha and was created in 1983. The name Bokeo translates as ‘gem mine’ and the city is known as the ‘land of sapphires’. Panning for gold, and digging for precious stones is a major occupation here.
Bokeo Overview

Bokeo province is in the northern Laos, with its capital extending along the bank of the Mekong River. The three country borders intersection (Thailand, Laos, and Myanmar), known as the “Golden Triangle”, is located here. The Province is home to a large number of ethnic minorities, each with their own lifestyle and customs.

The named “Bokeo” means the pits of sapphire or called “Keo-Praseuth” because it is a rich mining center for gold and sapphire. Sapphire is the most important mines and has been known for many centuries. Many historical sites could be found for instance; the trails of the city of Souvannakhomkham, one of the ancient cities in the 14th century. Ancient rocks namely; Hinsivaling and Nhonee (the rocky shape of male and female organs) found in the 5th century in Tonfeuang.



Bokeo History
Bokeo, meaning ‘gem mine’ is the smallest province in Laos, but one of the most ethnically diverse with over 30 recognized ethnic groups. The Lahu, a Tibeto-Burman speaking people common in northern Myanmar and Thailand are present in Bokeo in significant proportions.

The province is located in the heart of the infamous “Golden Triangle” sharing borders with Luang Namtha as well as Myanmar and Thailand.  Houai Xay, just across the border from the Thai city of Chiang Khong is a popular starting point for boat trips down the Mekong to Luang Prabang, a two-day journey south.
Bokeo climate and best time to visit
Monsoon season is Mat round to October and the road system sometimes struggles to cope. When the rain stops more people arrive and continue to do so right until the rains return. 
The economic initiatives have meant that Bokeo is actually receiving plenty of tourists all year round. This Laos travel guidehopes to encourage even more to do so by booking Laos tour packages.
Bokeo Transportation

Bokeo can be reached by bus from the Northern Bus Terminal in Vientiane. Choose either a direct bus to the province or you can take a plane with Lao Airlines which flies to Bokeo everyday.

Be aware that transportation schedules and prices are subject to change, so please check departure times and prices at transport station or through a travel agent prior to your trip.

You can also enter Bokeo by boat from Pak Beng in Oudomxay Province or Chiang Khong from Thailand. Visas on arrival are available.

Tuk-tuks, motorized tricycles (lot-sam-lo) and “jumbos” (pickup trucks with benches) are available all over town and offer an easy way to get around.

You can hire motorbike, mini-buses, and riverboats through guesthouses, hotels, tour operators, and the provincial Visitor Information Centers in Houai Xay. You can also rent bicycles for about USD1-2 per day. For guided tours, contact the Bokeo Visitor Information Center.

Things to do and see in Bokeo

Vat Chom Kao Manirath: the religious site located on the top of small mountain.

Sapphire Industry Plant: is located a 10 km north to Muong Houay Xay.

The cave of Tham Lot: Tham Phrabat and Buddha footprint located in Nam Nhou area a 56 km from Houay Xay.

Ethnic Culture: the tribe of Lantan at Ban Namchang, Hmong villages at Ban Salakham a 16-18 km from Houay Xay. Mouxeudam and kao (the black and white Mouxeu tribes), Koui, Yao, Akha or I-kor in Muong Meuang about 120 km from Houay Xay.

The ancient town of Souvannakhomkham: located in the area of Muong Tonpheung district a 56 km from Houay Xay. remained as the trail evidence of the civilization and history. It was installed in the XIV century. The Buddha image of 7.11 meter wide and 7.22 meters high.

Done Xao (on the Mekong): one of the big island area of 38 hectares located near the golden triangle sites, the border of 3 countries : Laos, Thailand and Myanmar. Particularly in December. the wild forest flowers named Dokghiopar were opening in the island. It is very wonderful and keen to eyes.

Hinsivaling and Nhonee: The symbol of the ancestors, Hinduism Image. It was found in the fifth century and very sacred, its size of 3 meter round and 2 meter long. it is looked like the organs of the male and female and found in Ban Namkeuangkao village in Tonpheung district.

Nature and Caves: in Pha-Oudom and Muong Paktha, there are hot spring water, windy hole, water falls, jungle and plenty of wild animals.

Bokeo Travel Tips
Eat and drink
A visit to Bokeo makes it possible to not only experience the provincial specialties, but also Lao staples like laap (minced meat salad), tam mak houng (spicy green papaya salad), and khao niaw (sticky rice). The local Khao soi (noodle soup) is one of the finest around.
A trip out of town to Ban Py Bounthong makes it possible to try the delicious foods served at the market stalls, with choices like khai phaen (riverweed snack), nor mai (baby bamboo shoot tips), paa douk (catfish) and khanom(sweets).
Bokeo has a useful market in town that sells a varied range of tourist goods, such as wooden kitsch, silk scarfs and T-Shirts. Plus, this market is likely to have something that can be picked up to serve as a gift or souvenir for family or friends.
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