Noted for the old French-colonial buildings that riddle the city, Savannakhet, with its quaintness and simplicity, is Southern Laos’ sleeping beauty.
Savannakhet is a stunning blend of the past and present Laos — the place boasts of fascinating 20th-century architecture mingled with recently built tourist destinations. Located alongside the Mekong River, a trip to Laos’ second largest city provides tourists with the chance to see the magnificent Mekong River and the surrounding hills.
Before making a go for the popular attractions around Savannakhet, tourists should make a stop at the Tourism office — aside from giving away free maps and detailed directions, staff also offers tourists with affordable eco-tours and walking tours. History junkies should explore That Ing Hang Supa — a commemorative monument that is said to contain Buddha’s bones– the school of novice monks, Wat Xayaphoum, and the old French-colonial buildings in the city. Take the time to get to the Dinosaur Museum, Savannakhet latest craze which displays bones of giant lizards excavated from Xonbouly District. Other unique attractions you need to surely see in Savannahket are UXO SVK, Lao Massage, and Savan Vegas Casino.
Lao Airlines offer flights to and from Vientiane three days a week. The three-hour trip costs USD 110. Make sure to call the airlines to book in advance as seats can be extremely limited.
Lao Airlines and Nok Air also have flights to and from Bangkok which cost between USD 110 to USD 115. Flight schedules usually change without notice, so it’s always better to contact Lao Airlines before your flight.
If you’re traveling by land, you can travel to Savannahket via a VIP bus or a local bus. VIP buses often leave during the night. The trip takes up to 8 hours. VIP buses with bunk beds cost LAK 120,000 (USD 14.5). A VIP bus has lesser stops compared to local buses.
Traveling to Savannakhet via local buses can take up to nine hours and costs LAK 75,000 (USD 9).
The generally accepted currency around Savannakhet is the Laotian Kip, which is available in denominations of 500, 1000, 2000, 5000, 10000, 20000, and 50000. There are two available banks offering ATM services which accept most foreign ATM cards. To avail of money exchange services, just go inside the bank and bring an identification.
Average temperatures in Savannakhet do not vary greatly. Considering humidity, the weather is always sunny, with a fair chance of rain during the other half of the year. Warmest months are April, May, and June, while September and December are considered the coldest months in the region. Best time to visit Savannakhet is between August and October.
Although exploring the place by foot is possible, the most convenient way to get around Savannakhet is via a bicycle which you can rent for LAK 30,000 (USD 3.60). You can also hire a tuk-tuk which has an average cost of LAK 10,000 (USD 1.2) for faster transportation.
Savannakhet’s beautiful French houses are now transformed into chic dining places that bear impressive interiors, and much more impressive menu. Try Dao Savanh Restaurant’s delectable Menu Dejeuner, a Lao take on flavored olives, and Croque Madame. Visit Hanarhan J to indulge in different comfort food options — wet rice strands called Khao Piak Sen soup, coconut-milk infused soup named Khao Pun Nam Phik, and Vietnamese Pho — which are perfect for weary travelers. Cafe Chai Dee is the best place to go if you’re looking for Western dishes — they serve delicious pizza and pasta here.
Though not as developed as Luang Prabang and Vientiane, Savannakhet has its own inviting charm which makes tourists — if not stay for a few days — stay a little longer. Visiting this place gives you an interesting insight of its vintage grandeur. If you want to experience a quiet trip away from the more developed cities, make a stop at Savannakhet.
Safety and Fraud
Make sure to watch your step while walking since the pavements around town often have big holes on them. The place doesn’t have a nightlife and people are already asleep before 21:00, so it’s wise to stay away from the streets after 20:00.