A former French-colonial provincial center, the pleasant riverside town of Savannakhet is today the urban hub of a vast rice-growing plain. It's distinguished by some fine examples of French-colonial architecture. There are some options for eco-trekking north of Savannakhet in Tha Kaek at the fantastic Khong Lor Cave, but given the distances and slow transport down here, this will take a lot of extra time. That said, the town itself is worth a daylong visit tops, and most visitors on a timetable bypass it for the more interesting options farther south.
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