Destination Guide to Savannakhet, Laos

Savannakhet, Laos

By Monk Media

WHY GO

The best colonial architecture in Laos, near the borders of Thailand and Vietnam, and, best of all, hardly any other tourists. Savannakhet is a quiet town, despite being the second largest in Laos.

WHEN TO GO

Anytime. Summer: hot. Winter: hot. Fall: hot and wet.

GETTING THERE AND AROUND

Take a smooth nine-hour bus ride from Vientiane (50,000 kip — by far the most pleasant bus ride in Laos), or endure a brutal, 12-hour, back-breaking, teeth-rattling, but colorful ferry ride across the Mekong from Thailand.

BEST ATTRACTIONS

Savannakhet’s best attraction is the town itself. Well off the beaten track, Savannakhet’s lovely tree-lined streets of ochre and turquoise row houses see few other travelers. For a few days, it’s easy to forget you’re a falang.

It’s also a convenient staging ground for further exploration of southern Laos, including remote Khmer ruins, the Ho Chi Min Trail (a network of dirt paths and trails that begin just of town) and the islands in the lower Mekong.

BEST LODGINGS

Accommodations are few and spare.

  • The Mekong Hotel is the most plush (for what little that’s worth), but there is a sketchy border-crossing-smuggler-vibe in the lobby.
  • A short walk away is the Ninh Guest House — cavernous, quiet, cheap, and not particularly clean. Rarely have I seen spiders that large in my bathroom.

BEST EATS

Few restaurants have English menus, so there’s a lot of pointing and nodding required. Right off the riverfront is the simple “French Food” restaurant, which offers equally simple French fare. There’s also an open-air café in the middle of the main church square that offers typical Lao fare, including chicken fetus in the shell and fried larvae.

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