Savannakhet is a precious destination to see a mixture of the old and new in Laos. While the old French-built constructions of Catholic Church remain, the modern systems of attractions of Dinosaur Museum and National Parks also appear. The Laos Tours today also draw attraction to the interesting Savannakhet.
About Savannakhet in Laos
Savannakhet is the largest province in the south of Laos. Its name derives from SavanhNakhone, meaning city of paradise or the fertile land for agriculture. Regarding the borders, Savannakhet is encompassed by Khammouane Province in the North, Salavan Province in the South, Quang Tri and ThuaThien Hue Provinces of Vietnam in the East, and Nakhon Phanom and Mukdahan Provinces of Thailand in the West. In fact, Savannakhet is the essential trading post between Laos and Thailand or Vietnam. Also, the province itself is one of the major tobacco production regions of Laos. The highlights of Savannakhet lie on the 15th – century Buddhist stupa – Wat Sainyaphum, the impressive Catholic Church, and some parts of Ho Chi Minh Trail. In general, this province is best to be explored by walking, cycling, trekking, and of course, tuk-tuk within a Laos custom tour. The available tuk-tuks around the city will take you to the best places of interests. Otherwise, you can self-discover the destination with a map in hand for either walking tour or eco-tours. If you need help, just contact Savannakhet Tourist Office located in Khantabuli Road.
Noteworthy Tourist Attractions in Savannakhet
Savannakhet Old Town
The Old Town of Savannakhet is dotted with several old French colonial buildings, which gather in the central city region. And, the most extraordinary site is The Catholic Church and the Central Plaza. These are the two antique heritages built during the French colonization of Laos. Some were built in the mid-12th century. Just a walk in the Old Town can feast the eyes with the French-style buildings as well as the Savannakhet traditional houses. The whole town is in the nostalgic atmosphere that can effectively bring you back in time with the vintage French buildings – the old face of Savannakhet.
If wanting to learn about the prehistoric time in Savannakhet, it’s suggested to visit Dinosaur Museum. The modern museum is the latest addition to the collection of tourist attractions in this city. Here, the visitors can find the exhibitions of the fossils excavated from 1930, the different kinds of dinosaurs, and the original mammalian from 200 million years ago, the fragments of the meteorite from 100 million years ago, etc. The museum is the safe house to these valuable items of history, and people are welcomed to contemplate the exhibited ones. Even the labels are in the Lao and French, don’t worry as the local staff is ready to translate them for the English-speaking guests.
That Ing Hang Stupa
That Ing Hang Stupa is around 9m high and adorned with the gorgeous carvings. It is the 16th-century religious construction of Buddhism, located in Ban That Village. This Stupa is rumored to protect a relic of Buddha’s spine. Surely, this is the sacred establishment for worshipping Buddhism, and everybody who comes to this Stupa is required to dress with respect. In particular, women should always wear the traditional Lao-style sarong (called pahsin) before they step foot in the ground of the temples. For the visitors, they can find the sarongs available at the stands and stores. Please purchase ones if you want to follow the local rule of respect toward That Ing Hang Stupa!
That Phone Stupa
Together with the sacred That Ing Hang Stupa, That Phone Stupa is the other respectable Buddhism stupa in Savannakhet. Historically, That Phone Stupa was erected between 557 and 700; it was the long period to build up such the impressive religious establishment. The Stupa is holy and admirable itself, besides, there is an annual celebration of festival in this Stupa during the full moon of February. That said, the festival is dedicated to celebrating the day when the Stupa is chosen to work as a shrine to give offerings to Shiva and other Hindu Gods. During the full moon era, That Phone Stupa seems to be coated with the mystical vibe.
The temple is located in Ban Xayaphoum Village, on the banks of Mekong River. People say it the most beautiful temple in the area, and surely it is. Wat Xayaphoum was constructed in 1542, and this is one of the oldest religious buildings in Savannakhet. Being antique and gorgeous, this Wat is also the significant Buddhism center for the local people to worship every day. Coming to Wat Xayaphoum, you see the interesting workshop where the locals handcraft the new Buddha images. What’s more, this temple is the ground celebrating various festivals and ceremonies; for example, the Pimai Laos and Boat Racing Festival taken place in October annually.
Protected Areas (National Parks)
- The first suggestion is Phou Xang He National Protected Area which is notable with the intact forested park, and is the home to many animals and bird species. Phou Xang He is nestled 145km east of Savannakhet town. This Park is the long residence of the Phu Tai and Katang ethnic groups. So, if you’re fond of ecotourism, Phou Xang He is a place to go. The protected area lets you enjoy trekking through the dense jungle, the mysterious caves, the local ethnic groups, and the magnificent mountains. Nex
- The second protected area is Dong Natad – the ideal eco-site for trekking. In Dong Natad Protected Area, people will be convinced of the tranquil and untouched forests, the wild animals, and rich system of herbs and flora. You will trek through the remote villages to find the flowery forests and meet the friendly villagers in Dong Natad, which is only 15km from the town center. You can choose to either discover the green protected zone of Dong Natad on your own or via the tour agent’s support. People have been spending days and night relaxing and discovering this eco-site; so, expect to meet the like-minded companions along the scenic trekking route.
How to Get to Savannakhet
You can take the direct flights from Vientiane to Savannakhet. There are three Vientiane – Savannakhet flights in a week namely Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday. The flight will take around 1 hour landing in Savannakhet. Most tourists from the foreign countries have flights to Vientiane, and then get transferred to Savannakhet by either the other direct flight or the long-distance bus.
From Vientiane to Savannakhet: There are two kinds of buses: the public bus and the VIP bus (with toilet and air-conditioner). Both departs from Southern Bus Station in Vientiane daily. It takes around 8-9 hours to arrive at Savannakhet Bus Station.
From Thailand to Savannakhet: The bus departs from Mukdahan Bus Station of Thailand, and then stop at the border checkpoint to have your visa/passport stamped. You can also ride cars or motorbikes from the border checkpoint. The drive takes around 1 hour getting to Savannakhet Bus Station.
From Vietnam to Savannakhet: The bus can depart from several points including Lao Bao Border, Hue (on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday), Danang and Hanoi (only Saturday and Sunday). Particularly, the bus ride might take about 5 hours from Lao Bao border to Savannakhet Bus Station.
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