Thailand's North-East


Global Mark : 13.00

Ratings by criteria : 

Charm Scenery Parks Culture Minor. Market Relax Fiesta 


4 5 2 3 3 4 3 2 1 12.00

Ratings by backpackers :

Surveyed Liked  Comeback  Recommend  Range AVER.
1 100% (1) 100% (1) 100% (1) 14 14.00

Description :
A little town opposite Laos (Savannakhet) over the Mekong.

Comments : A relaxed transit place for most, it also boost a few original attractions worth a longer stay

What to do ? Guess the shape of volcanic rocks / Examine 3,000 years old paintings / Enjoy Mekong panorama / Spot birds, butterflies, millipedes and, if lucky, wilder animals / Get an elevator ride / Study the various positions of Lord Buddha / Have a closer look at Savannakhet without any visa / Enjoy sunrise & sunset at an hilly temple / Walk the Mekong bank, its temples & shops / Wai back at people / Store on snacks and cross the river to Laos / Buy Lao handicraft & clothes

What you may not like ? The lack of English in town, including at the immigration office / The heat on the rocks / The impossibility to get a Lao visa at the border : you have to bring one from Bangkok / The noisy shops along the riverbank / 

How long ? One hour for the river, couple more for the town, one day for the attractions

Where to stay ? Not too many places around here. From North to South :

  • Hua Nam, 36 Samut Sakdarak Rd, two blocks west of the Ferry / Room 120, w. shower 220 / Noisy, basic, grotty & unfresh. It would be the total if it was not acceptably clean. 
  • Hong Kong, 161 Phithak Santirat Rd, from the above walk west and turn left / Rooms w. shower 150 / Complete the above with "dirty" and "broken" but it is slightly more quiet
  • Sangtai Hotel (042 633159), the street west of the above, south of Song Nang Rd / Room w. HW shower, TV & fridge 250, w. AC 350 / Big rooms but basic furniture and lack of charm
  • Sansuk Bungalow (611214), walk south from the above, 100m after the roundabout, Thai sign with Pepsi logo / Room w. HW shower & local TV 200, w. AC 250 / Go there for the "bungalow style" rooms around a small court, the comfortable clean rooms & the cheapest AC / What you may not like : getting less charm inside than outside and the rather small rooms
  • Mukdahan Hotel (611619), No8-8 Samut Sakdarak Rd, 1km before the Tower, yellow songthaew from the bus station (B5) / Rooms 100, w. shower 150, w. AC & HW shower 250 / Go there for the big, clean & comfortable rooms, some with view, the little "extra" (water, etc.) and the cheapest price in town / What you may not like : the lack of English of the friendly staff

Where to eat ? At the night market on Song Nam Rd or by the Mekong Bank. 

Internet ? The cheapest place is CS Internet (9am to 8pm), next to the AM-PM convenience store on Song Nam Rd : B20 per hour and no minimum charge. In front of the Ploy Palace Hotel, World Net charges B30 per hour with a B10 minimum charge.

Need info and have no translator ? Try the Ploy Palace Hotel at 40 Pitakpanomkhet Rd, west of the night market. If sociable enough and not busy, a former guide to the National Park who speak enough English & French may show you a 20mn movie about the city attractions. The other members of the staff are also (nearly) fluent but may be more oriented toward the guests.

Crossing to Laos ? The Ferry depart at 9:15, 10:15, 11:15, 13:30, 14:30 & 15:30 Monday to Friday, at 9:30, 10:30, 14:30 & 15:30 Saturday and at 10:30 & 15:00 on Sunday. It cost B50. 

A morning walk on lava ? 

Spending couple of hours at Mukdahan National Park, also known as Phu Pha Thoep "beautiful rocks" should rank high on anyone's agenda. Located 17km south, it is fairly easy to reach : from the Mukdahan Hotel Rd, head south toward the Tower and catch any songthaew or bus heading for Don Tan (B10), get off just after km14 and walk the 1.6km to the entrance. It is also possible to hitch your way and, in helpful Thailand, you may even be driven to the gate ! Entry is free but you will have to leave your name on a register (do not worry : you can get it back when you exit). 

There is Visitor Center on the left where you can get a small map and see photos of the attractions. Basically, lava rocks shaped by 95-120 millions of years : crocodile, camel, frog, Chinese temple, etc can be spotted with a little imagination. Signs point you to the right directions and you will need a good 4 hours to wander around at a leisure pace. There is a great panoramic view from Pa Ngoy Cliff, on the way toward two "waterfalls". Actually, only Tham Pra qualify as such and it is not an impressive one but the walk in the forest is great and there is a cave stuffed with Buddha above it. Some very old paintings can also be spotted if you are willing to walk 3-5km further. 

The average temperature is 33C and it turns into a furnace if sunny. Visit as early as possible and carry lots of water (food stalls at the entrance).

 << Discover a few rocks

More view & Buddha ? Then pay B20 and get an elevator ride to the top of Mukdahan Tower (open 8:00 to 18:00). Beside multiple Buddha in various positions (together with cultural explanations), there is an exhibit of traditional clothes. But the main reason to go up is obviously for the panoramic view. Telescopes let you get a closer look of Laos. 

Bus Schedules :  

To Price Class Duration Time Nb Freq.
Ubon 51 fan 3 6:30 to 17 a lot 30mn
That Phanom 17 fan 1 6 to 17:30 a lot 30mn
Nakhon Phanom 34 fan 2 10 to 17 a few hour
Roi Et 50 fan 3 6:30,10:30,13:30,14 4 na
Bangkok 190/270 fan/ac2 12/11 6,2:30 to 5:40/7:30,8:30, 14:30 to 18:30 a lot na/30mn

Note : To Bangkok, also AC1 for B340 (9 hrs)

The trip to That Phanom : SSS / L&R / B17 / 1 hour / Fan bus
Even so there are signs in town pointing toward That Phanom, you will have to go back to the bus station for this short & pleasant ride.
Once arrived, walk east toward the Mekong then turn left. The GH are 10-15mn walk away or B10 by Tuk-Tuk.

See also the trip from Bangkok via Roi Et

See also the trip from Ubon Ratchathani