Accommodation in Laos can be challenging, depending on your route. Prices are often higher than you might expect – in more remote locations you may pay almost as much for relatively basic accommodation as you would pay in a bigger city for much more in the way of amenities. The prices in bigger cities are often kept in check by competition, which generally doesn’t exist in the less populated areas. Rates for rooms are also quoted in various currencies – Kip, Baht or US$ – depending on how they would prefer to be paid. If they are quoting in something other than kip and you want to pay in kip they do their own conversion which often ends up at a higher amount than published rates. Just to make it a bit more confusing when trying to compare places!
One of the other challenges in Laos is that there is often more than one name for towns or at least multiple ways of spelling the town name. We have used the spelling that shows on our main map (a good one, published by German company Reise Know How www.reise-know-how.de that we purchased at a bookstore in Vientiane next to Vayakorn GH) but even our back-up map has different spellings for some of the towns.
Vientiane (28k from Nong Khai)
Souphaphone Guesthouse, just off of Th. Francois Ngin – 170,000K for room with A/C, ensuite, refrigerator, TV with English channels, and free wi-fi in the hotel lobby. Bikes were parked in a locked side storage area. This was a nice clean quiet hotel in a good location. The downside was that our room was on the fourth floor and they had no lift so we got a good workout taking the bags up and down.
There are lots of accommodation options in Vientiane so it would probably be easy to find something a bit cheaper. Some of the more well-known places were booked out (Vayakorn Inn, etc) and we had difficulty finding a place that would allow us to take our bikes in the room or had safe storage. Our guesthouse was just a street over from the street with numerous French bakeries and down the street from Makphet, another well known restaurant that trains homeless youths to cook and wait tables.
Tons of eating options in Vientiane and free wi-fi at many cafes. Try Joma’s Bakery for decent food and coffee – great place to hang out to use the wi-fi.
Thabok (95k from Vientiane)
T&M Guesthouse, on the left hand side of the main road as you come into town. 70,000K for room with ensuite, A/C and TV (no English), no wi-fi. We rolled our bikes into the room. Pretty basic accommodation but okay for one night.
This is a very small town – there was a sign for another guesthouse just as you come into town on the left hand side but we did not look at it. There are a couple of restaurants across the road that serve decent food and the shop just in front of the guesthouse sells some basic supplies and drinks. They open pretty early in the morning and we bought yoghurt and juice for breakfast in the morning.
Paksan (55k from Thabok)
BK Guesthouse, first right (south) east of the bridge and its a couple of hundred metres on the right hand side. We paid 70,000K for a room w/ensuite and A/C. No TV or wi-fi. Bikes were locked outside behind the room. The room itself was very small but there was a lounge area we could use that was nice and roomy. It was relatively clean.
There are a couple of other guesthouses in town – we saw a sign for one at the north end of town just as you come in. There is also the Paksan Hotel, which is located just across the bridge (on the same side as the BK Guesthouse), on the left hand side as you come across. We looked at a room there – room was okay and we think it was about 130,000K and they had signs indicating wi-fi. It was a bit deserted though.
We ate at a restaurant just down the street from the BK Guesthouse for both lunch and dinner – they didn’t seem to be really open for dinner but our guesthouse owner was in there having dinner and they let us in and fixed us something. There is a nice restaurant down by the river as well.
Pakkading (44k from Paksan)
We did not stop here but found information from other cycling journals about the following guesthouses as options for accommodation:
-Souriyanh Guesthouse/ Sulignan Guesthouse (appears to have two names) (June 2011 – around 80,000K for room with A/C and ensuite bathroom.
Nam Thone (95k from Paksan)
Phimmachack Guesthouse, on left hand side of road behind some blue metal gates. We paid 80,000K for a little bungalow with ensuite and A/C. Cold water shower, western-style toilet with bucket flush. Not surprisingly, no wi-fi. Room was pretty basic but it was set back off the road so was pretty quiet. There was a little veranda on the bungalows were we could sit and store the bikes.
There are a couple of guesthouses in Viang Khan, which is at the junction of Hwy 13 and Hwy 8. We checked out the Vasana Guesthouse, about 100m up Hwy 8 but it was pretty grotty though perhaps we caught them on a bad day as other cyclists have stayed here. There was a sign for another guesthouse about 1k down a dirt road toward the river, which we did not go look at. There is another guesthouse, Vieng Thong, just down Hwy 13 from the Hwy 8 junction – we read some other cycling journals that indicated this was not a great place, with bedbugs and a very loud karaoke bar attached to it.
There is little resort, the Skyline Nature Resort, about 8k up Hwy 8 that we have heard about from at least two cyclists that is supposed to look very nice. It might be worth the detour – note Hwy 8 is the way up to the famous river cave so it might be a nice break to head up that way before continuing south on Hwy 13.
Thakhek (105k from Nam Thone)
Mekong Hotel, Th. Setthathirat, right on the Mekong River. We paid 130,000Kip for a room with ensuite, A/C, refrigerator and TV (with English channels), free wi-fi in the lobby. We locked the bikes next to the stairwell in the reception area. The room was nothing flashy but was clean and the bathroom had a bathtub.
There are quite a few guesthouses in town so there are some options. We tried to stay at the Inthira Hotel (www.inthirahotel.com, Th. Chao Anou) but it was booked out. The rooms looked very nice there but they were quite a bit more expensive (US$29) than the other places. We also heard that the Phonepadidh Guesthouse was nice and it is right in town as well. The Thakhek Travel Lodge is supposed to be a good budget spot but it is quite a way (~3k or so) from the old town area and on a very dusty torn up road so not sure it would be worth it.
We ate a couple of meals at the Inthira Cafe – good food and free wi-fi. We also ate along the Mekong River – there are lots of restaurants along the street that runs along the riverfront.
Seno (100k from Thakhek)
This town is at the junction of Hwy 13 and Hwy 9 into Savannakhet. We did not stay here but some cyclists have stopped here and there are apparently several guesthouses in town and a couple on the hwy is you are looking for a stop before Savannakhet or are looking to continue south and bypass Savannakhet.
Savannakhet (132k from Thakhek)
Salasavan Guesthouse, 129 Th Kuvoravong. We paid 240,000K for a twin bed room with A/C, ensuite, free wi-fi and large balcony and included breakfast. Bikes were kept locked in kitchen area overnight. This was a pretty expensive guesthouse but was in a neat old building that had been refurbished. Not sure if it was worth quite that much but it was full of charm and was located in a nice spot.
Lots of eating options around. We ate lunch at Cafe Anakot, Th Ratsavongseuk, just a couple of blocks away from the guesthouse. Great cafe owned by a Japanese expat with really good food and wi-fi.
Phuong Savan (120k from Savannakhet)
Tham Phuang Resort, located just south (~200 metres) of Phuong Savan on the left-hand side of Hwy 13. We paid 100,000K for a room with A/C, ensuite (with hot water), western-style bucket flush toilet (no sink, for some reason). Bikes were stored in the room but could easily stay on the verandah. The room was okay and we were happy to find it after a long day.
Phuong Savan is one of those little villages that don’t appear on many maps but from Google maps it looks like this is what it is called (it is located about the 120 kilometre marker from Pakse). We ate lunch in Phuong Savan – there were quite a few little roadside restaurants. The resort had a kitchen so they fixed us some dinner, which was pretty decent and saved us from going back into town. They also had bottles of water for sale.
The other accommodation options we saw:
-at kilometre marker (KM) 123 (from Pakse), just north of Phuong Savan, there is a guesthouse on the right hand side (going south). The rooms were very basic – fan only, windows with wooden shutters and no screens, mattresses on the floor, cold water bucket shower and squat toilet. They wanted 50,000K.
-at about KM 112~111 (from Pakse) there were two other guesthouses about a kilometre or so apart. They looked okay from the road but we did not stop to look at them.
-at about the 67/68 KM (from Pakse), south of the junction with Hwy 15 and just past the Kongxedone turn-off there is a hotel on the left hand side set pretty far off the road. Looked decent from the road.
Other cyclists have done the leg from Savannakhet in 3 days, stopping at Pakxong (about 70k), where there are several guesthouses (pink one coming into town looks nice) and then near Kongxedong (about 100k) and on to Savannakhet (about 60k).
Pakse (120k from Phuong Savan)
Seng Aroun Hotel, on Hwy 13 on left hand side about 500 metres after crossing the bridge. We paid US$26 (205,000K) for a room with ensuite, A/C, refrigerator and TV with English channels, free wi-fi in the lobby. Rate includes breakfast. Bikes kept locked in storage area with 24 hour security. Room was nice and we wanted a comfortable spot as we were planning to spend 3 nights.
Lots of accommodation options in town but we were ready for a few days off and wanted a decent place. Across the street from the hotel is a new cafe, the Bolaven Cafe, that has really good food, free wi-fi and a nice atmosphere. There is a pizza joint and two Indian restaurants just down the street and up the street the other way about 2 blocks is a very busy Lao restaurant (Phai Pailin Sundry Shop) with good food, good prices and quick service. Lots of foreigners there – can’t miss it. There is another cafe across the side street with wi-fi.
Paksong (55k from Pakse)
Savana Guesthouse – take the road off to the left just past the markets (road west of or just before the hospital) and continue about 1k or so until you see a sign for the guesthouse off to the left. We paid 100,000K for a very big room with ensuite and TV (with English news channel). No A/C as not needed up there. Room was clean and decent. There were a range of rooms from 80,000 – 100,000.
There is not a lot in Paksong but just across the road from the guesthouse there are a couple of restaurant. We ate at the one directly across – the food was delicious and the family running the shop were very nice. The father spoke a bit of English.
Recommended stop is the little coffee space up on the main road – east of the hospital, on the right hand side heading east. Look for the white sign that says ‘Coffee’. This little spot is run by a Dutch fellow who is married to a Laven woman whose family has a coffee plantation. He makes a very nice cup of coffee, sells coffee beans and does coffee tours. He has lots of information about the area as well.
32k past Paksong on way to That Beng
There is a little resort about 32k from Paksong on the right hand side called the Sinouk Resort. It is connected to the Residence Sinouk in Pakse. We did not stay there but it looked very nice, with beautiful gardens and bungalows. Might be a bit spendy.
Tat Lo (60k from Paksong)
Thad Lo Lodge – turn left off the main road on the road between the market area and the bridge – before the bridge. Continue along this road for about 1.5-2k and you will see the sign for Thad Lo Lodge ahead. Follow the road up the hill and the lodge is off to the right. We paid US$48 for a twin room with ensuite, fan and mosquito nets with a nice breakfast included. No A/C needed as it is cool at night. The rooms are pretty expensive relative to other accommodation options in Tat Lo but it is a very nice spot – very peaceful and quiet and the rooms all have decks with chairs to hang out. The lodge is right on the river and the falls are right there. There is a short walking trail from the lodge down to the other road where all the other guesthouses and restaurants are located.
There are quite a few guesthouses down the road if you turn right just before the Thad Lo Lodge sign, ranging from fan with shared bath at 40,000k on up. We looked at a couple, including the Lonely Planet pick Saise Resort across the bridge, but could not find a nice one available for a couple of nights.
Most of the guesthouses have restaurants. We had some good food at Tim’s Guesthouse and ate a couple of times at Mama Pap’s – huge portions of good food at very cheap prices.
Pakse (87k from Tat Lo)
Thalvang Guesthouse – on the road behind the Sang Aroun Hotel (north of the main street). We stayed here one night after our trip up to the Bolaven Plateau. We paid 80,000K for a room with ensuite (hot water), A/C and TV (with English channels). Bikes were kept outside the room on small balcony. Room was basic and the bed turned out to be horribly uncomfortably – springs popping out everywhere, no structure at all. We had heard from some other cyclists that the place was okay but they must have had a different room with a better bed – we had room 15. We could not recommend the place unless you first really check out the bed to see if you can stand it. See above entry for other info on Pakse.
Champasak (35k from Pakse)
Inthira Hotel – on the main road running through Champasak, just past the fountain/roundabout on the right hand side. We treated ourselves at this hotel, got a nice room with ensuite, rainshower, A/C, refrigerator, TV (English news), free DVDs and free wi-fi, and including a good breakfast for US$50 (cheaper to book online through Agoda). It was a lovely place with a nice little courtyard area off the main road so nice and quiet.
There are quite a few guesthouses in the area. LP’s recommendation (DokChampa) seemed to be dive – at least the room they showed us was. There is another guesthouse a bit further north called Anouxa – it actually seemed relatively nice and probably would have been a fine place to stay (no wi-fi).
The Inthira has a nice restaurant with good food. There are several other restaurants along the main road. We also tried out a little place called Frice & Lujane, just north of the tourist information centre – really tasty Italian food, highly recommended.
Thang Ben (27k from Champasak)
Pathoumthong Resort, first resort you see on the left hand side heading south. We paid 70,000K for a bungalow with ensuite and A/C. The resort was a bit rough and we had problems getting water as the pump for the water kept breaking down.
The resort was a bit far from town but there was a restaurant of sorts at the end of the driveway into the resort. There were a couple more restaurants in the village. There were a couple of other guesthouses/resorts in the village as well. All looked a bit rough – it’s a very small village.
Khonephapheng (6k south of the turnoff to Nakasang)
Khonephapheng Resort and Golf Club – this resort is about 2k north of the turnoff to the Khonephapheng waterfalls. It is a bit of a swish resort – or perhaps used to be but it seems to be showing its age. The rooms were priced as though it was still a swish resort – we paid approximately 200,000kip (negotiated) for a nice room with ensuite, A/C, TV (a couple of English channels) and breakfast included. Bikes were kept on the porch of the 3 room building where our room was located.
There was a restaurant at the resort serves decent food and has a big menu – it is really the only place to eat close by, though there are food stalls down at the waterfalls(2k from the resort) and there are a few food stalls at the junction of the main highway and the turnoff to Nakasang before you reach the resort.
There is a hotel about 4k or so north of the Nakasang turnoff on the left hand side that was decent and the price was about 100,000K for a simple room with A/C and ensuite. There was another resort that we saw after the Nakasang turnoff that looked a bit rough.