Situated on the border between Thailand and Laos, Chong Mek is one of the few places at which tourists can cross into Laos. Other Lao entry points include Nong Khai , Chiang Khong , and Mukdahan . Visitors can obtain a visa on arrival, valid for one month, for a fee of US$35 and two recent passport photographs. Since the border crossing opened at Chong Mek, a vibrant market and shopping area has sprung up, attracting busloads of Thai tourists who also cross into Laos to visit the nearby town of Pakse. For those who do not have a visa, it is possible, even without a passport, to walk some 660 f(200 m) over the border to browse around the open-air market and duty-free shops that are set up there. In the market, there may be groups of old women selling rare plants and flowers. However, many of the plants are, sadly, taken from the Lao jungle. Visitors to the market are advised not to buy these.