For its location, its culture, its history and its architecture, Savannakhet is one of the most fascinating places in all of Laos. For our money, it’s also one of the most underrated by tourists, despite being the second biggest city in the country.
Most visitors to the country tend to do the northern loop of LuangPrabang, Vientiane and VangVieng. More adventurous folk make it down to the Plain of Jars and eventually the 4,000 Islands. On their way from north to south, however, they tend to skip right by Savannakhet. That’s a big mistake, and we’re here to tell you why!
Geographically, Savannakhet is in a very interesting place. As well as being something of a gateway between northern and southern Laos, it’s located right on the western border with Thailand, and isn’t far from Vietnam to the east, or Cambodia to the south. This has led to a fascinating blend of cultures in the city, which is compounded by the fact that it was an important settlement during the French colonial times. On top of all that, there’s also a significant Chinese population there; as we said, it’s quite a blend!
Despite having a population of around 120,000 people, Savannakhet has managed to retain quite a relaxed feel, making it a pleasure to wander round and soak up the colonial architecture in the French historical town, or stroll along the river (stopping at the 16th century Buddhist temple of Wat Xayaphoum while you’re there).
Like many places in this gorgeous country, Savannakhet also sits in extremely picturesque surroundings. Visit the excellent tourist information center on the banks of the Mekong for details of their recommended treks, then strike out and discover this wonderful nature for yourself.
Like its southern neighbor Cambodia, Laos simple doesn’t receive enough time from its foreign visitors. We’d advise you to devote as many days or weeks as you possibly can to the country; only then can you discover wonderful, unspoiled places like Savannakhet.