City guide: Thakhek
By Liz Dodd
On the shady banks of the Mekong as it meanders through central Laos, Thakhek is one in a string of pretty riverside cities overlooked by most visitors to Southeast Asia’s mountainous north.
Thakhek is seen at its most beautiful on the long riverfront of this sizeable former port, where French colonial villas enjoy sunset views over Thailand. Many have been turned into upmarket hotels: the gorgeous Bouton d’Or, for example, offers boutique luxury for a typically low Laotian rate.
A taste of asia
Behind the frills you will find a good, old-fashioned backpacker town: the Sabaidee Thakhek restaurant, also on the riverfront, serves massive portions of Laotian specialities. Nearby Inthira Thakhek is a meeting place for backpackers and cyclists planning a trip around the “Thakhek loop”, one of Laos’s best-kept secrets. This 450km road winds through limestone mountains, remote villages and waterfalls. If cycling is not your thing, arrange a jeep tour in town.
Thakhek offers a taste of Southeast Asia as it was decades ago: remote, rural and unspoilt. Visit now, before it gets on the beaten track.
Thakhek is easy to reach from the capital, Vientiane, or from Pakse, near the Cambodian border, by bus.