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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 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,
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.

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.


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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