LP warned me that Savannakhet doesn’t have much to offer for accommodations, and it over-promised on great French food.
If you do any research, you will probably come up with the same handful of restaurants. There’s not much more here. Of course you can eat street food, or find the locals’ favorite, but anglos are always drawn English menus.
If you only eat one meal in town, it will and should be at Lin’s cafe. The quaint little restaurant offers smoothies, coffee, breakfast, Lao and Thai food, and western food. It is tasty, with great service, and not the most expensive. Ginger-watermelon smoothie and Laos yellow curry cost 42,000 K (190 THB). For breakfast I had french toast with chocolate sauce, bananas, and an iced Lao coffee.
It’s a new, large, and trendy restaurant you will see on the way to the consulate. It has a big menu, including breakfast 40,000K (but Lin’s is better and cheaper), steaks (200,000 K), hamburgers, and pizza.
Cafe Chez Bourne
The cheaper of the two major French restaurants, Cafe Chez Bourne is nice place, but but still very expensive. I enjoyed my lasagna and side salad, but it cost 70,000 K (300 THB). Ridiculously expensive if this were Thailand, but it’s Laos – food is more expensive. Pizza ranges from 60,000 – 90,000 K. If you are looking for the restaurant, you’ll recognize it from the giant penguin statues outside.
The Dao Savanh
The entire menu is French, and the most popular item is the 3-course set menu, for about 450 THB. Too rich for me.
Right next to the consulate is a small street restaurant where you can get chicken and rice noodle soup for 55 THB (back in Thailand it would be about 30 THB). Yup, they quoted me in baht, which was perfect because I was just about out of kip.
In two nights I stayed at two guesthouses. The first, Souannavong Guesthouse, had the best reviews, but I didn’t like it one bit. On arrival, I couldn’t find any staff, so I followed the instructions and gave them a call. The owner was just sleeping inside. I disliked walking through a kitchen area to get to my room. My room’s only window faced the hallway. At 3:00am the owner started blaring music from the room next to mine! No water was provided, but the wifi as pretty good. The next day I moved out.
My second night was at Leena Guesthouse. It’s very charming, clean, and new. The owner has amazing English and is happy to help you with anything, including getting a tuk-tuk. I didn’t love this place because wifi didn’t work in my room (too far away, I think), and the nearby temple blared sermons from 8pm on and started up again at 7am. But they offered a descent breakfast of eggs, French bread, and instant coffee for 14,000 kip ($2.50).
Down the street from Leena’s is a little English language school where you can rent a bicycle for 15,000 kip/day from a Brit and his Lao wife.