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Savannakhet


Savannakhet is one of the larger cities in Laos but, as almost everywhere in Laos, it's surprisingly mellow. The city offers some attractions of its own and around the city there's a few more sights to explore including two Khmer sites which are mostly unknown to the larger audience. So lets see what there is to explore.

Old town, Savannakhet

Old town, Savannakhet

Savannakhet

Savannakhet is one of the bigger cities in Laos. However, the city center is quite small and easy to walk around. There are several cheap guesthouses. In October 2010, I stayed at the Leena Guesthouse, hidden away from the main road through town. When I re-visited Savannakhet in November 2011, I stayed at the riverside in the Mekong Guesthouse near the ferries to Mukdahan).

Catholic church Savannakhet Old town, Savannakhet
Left: Catholic Church,
Right:
Old building in Savannakhet

In town you can find a Chinese and Vietnamese temple as well as a Catholic Church. The old town center has several French colonial buildings, many in need for maintenance. Cheap food can be found at the riverside but in the main street there are several cheap bread and noodle stalls.

Getting there

Savannakhet is well connected to the rest of Laos by bus. There are regular buses on a daily base to Vientiane, Pakse and Vietnam. As Highway 13 is in good condition the journey is typically pleasant. For cyclists, there are options to stay away from Highway 13, at least for some time.

For going to Thakhek, you can follow highway 11 which is more like a quiet provincial road. See this page for details.

Circle near Savannakhet towards the Friendship II bridge

Should you want to cycle south, there are options to avoid Highway 13 at least for some time. Take the road out of the Savannakhet town center to the hospital and contain to Ban Pakkha, That Phnon, Stone House and Kong Phanang before going to Paksong and Highway 13. This saves you a day on the highway. More about what to expect on this road, with That Phonh and Stone House here.

The road to Vietnam is in excellent condition. It's a 2-3 days journey to the Lao Bao border. More about this road here.

Transport in town can be by motorbike, but some guesthouses also rent bicycles. In reality, you can easily cover most of the city center on foot.

Thailand
When the Friendship Bridge II was build this part of Laos became easier accesible to travelers. You can get a Lao visa at the bridge (Lao site, price in July 2013 was US $45 or B1600). It's an easy process.

2nd Friendship Bridge at Savannakhet
2nd Friendship Bridge at Savannakhet

There used to be an option to take the ferry from Mukdahan but as I was told this option is now only available for locals. So, you have to take a bus to Savannakhet. Alternative you can cycle to the bridge, arrange a pickup truck (or bus) to bring you to the other side and continue to Savannakhet, which is a few km away. You're not allowed to cycle the bridge.

Hotels, guesthouses and food

I've stayed several times in the city. Once at the riverside but better options are the Leena Guesthouse and the Lotus Hotel. In reality, there are many guesthouses and a few more mid range and upmarket hotels. There's little need to book in advance.

Savannakhet

Along the Mekong river you will find countless food stalls, especially at night time. On the main street there are many small restaurants and near the old market some upmarket restaurants and bars.

Other pages about Laos:

North Laos Central Laos South Laos

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Pakse and the road to Savannakhet

The almost 250 km that separates Pakse and Savannakhet is a nice bike ride with several places to stay in between. Nothing much spectacular, just an enjoyable bicycle ride

Pakse and the road to Savannakhet



Your Adventures in Laos

What is your single most travel story in Laos? Have you cycled in a very remote area? Invited at a local wedding? Or did you do a boat trip? Traveled on the back of a truck in north Laos? Tell us!

Your Laos stories

 


Map of Laos


Our Laos map, click here to enlarge



Visa for Laos
 

How to obtain a visa for Laos? Travelers coming from China need a visa in advance, get one at the Carmelia Hotel in Kunming Yunnan, Those coming from Thailand can obtain in Vientiane or Huay Xai a visa on the spot.

Laos visa regulations

 


Savannakhet to Thakhek
 

Probably the most satisfying day in my 2010 bike ride through south and central Laos, using NR 11 I cycled Savannakhet to Thakhek all away from the mainstream roads. Beautiful!

Savannakhet to Thakhek

 

The road to Vietnam

Some travelers use Highway 9 to and from Vietnam. It's an easy road and for the most in good condition. Here is more:

The road from Savannakhet to Lao Bao Vietnam


North East Thailand

Another part of Thailand which is much ignored  by travelers is the north east. Admitted, there's not a whole lot to see but it's great cycling here:

North East Thailand, from Mukdahan to Ubon Ratchathani