The Rest of Laos
While the capital Vientiane, and Luang Prabang, are the main lures for visitors to Laos, there are plenty of other destinations that are worth mentioning. For many travellers Luang Prabang is 'off the beaten track' enough, others might choose to get even deeper into Laos' treasures.
Huay Xai and Pakbeng
Travellers taking the slow boat down the Mekong river to Luang Prabang are sure to visit Huay Xai and Pakbeng. The immigration control to enter Laos is in Huay Xai, after a brief river taxi across from Thailand. There isn't too much to do in Huay Xai, beyond catch the boat to Luang Prabang, but if you have time there is a temple to visit, or a market to browse around. A few guest houses allow you to overnight here to be ready to catch the slow boat.
Pakbeng is where the slow boat overnights on route to Luang Prabang - about halfway down the river. You can get there by road, but most travellers will use the slow boat to get there. Pakbeng is a very sleepy village, who's biggest attraction is its remoteness. It is deep into the drug growing golden triangle region. While you are likely to be offered a variety of drugs, you would be stupid to accept - the police won't be far away.
For those who want to really get out of the way, trekking in the wilds of Laos, the Luang Namtha is the place to base yourself. Several licensed trekking companies offer treks from Luang Namtha to visit remote hill tribe villages. Luang Namtha is located in the north between Huay Xai and Boten, where there is a border crossing into China. This route to China offers some fine biking along mostly good roads and through beautiful hill country and rice fields.
The 2nd largest city in Laos, Savannakhet is also on the banks of the river Mekong across from Mukdahan in Thailand. Savannakhet has a couple of temples and stupas, but mostly offers a way to get even further off the beaten track. Savannakhet is generally considered the business capital of Laos.
Travellers heading south to Cambodia may well pass through Pakse. While there isn't much to see in Pakse, it does offer a gateway to the Bolevan Plateau and Si Phan Don. Si Phan Don literally means 4,000 islands. As well as having many islands to explore, it is also the gateway to Cambodia, and you can explore the laid back islands from either country.