Although I love travel, I’m not a huge fan of long bus journeys, particularly when they are overnight. I’m not a great sleeper at the best of times, so trying to sleep in a cramped seat on a moving bus is almost impossible for me. Unfortunately, to get from the Pakse and Si Phan Don areas in Southern Laos to the capital, Vientiane, you kind of don’t have much of a choice as it is a long distance. However, we were lucky enough to have time on our hands, so to avoid that long uncomfortable bus journey, we decided to break up the journey into two shorter bus rides by stopping for a few nights in the Mekong/border town of Savannakhet, plus that would also mean that we get to explore a new town.
Most people that travel to Savannakhet seem to come across the Mekong River from Thailand to visit the convenient Thai consulate for a quick border run. From that alone, I really wasn’t expecting much from the town. I was blissfully surprised.
What I found was a quiet little town with clean streets, old French Colonial architecture and friendly locals. Savannakhet is a town full of charm and character, and it is best explored on a bicycle.
From the seats of our rented bikes, we peddled along the quiet little streets past some beautiful old buildings and temples, around the central plaza area and down along the Mekong Riverfront where we could look over to Thailand. In between rides we of course had to sample the towns cute little cafes and restaurants.
I can see myself returning here someday to just slowly wander around aimlessly. It’s that kind of place, with everything that I love about Laos. Savannakhet was definitely a pleasant surprise.