Accommodation here is ordered if doing the loop anti-clockwise: Mahaxay, Nakai, Thalang, Lak Xao, Na Hin, Konglor village (Ban Konglor) and Vieng Kham.
For Tha Khaek accommodation including Green Climbers Home, see our Tha Khaek destination guide. Thakek Travel Lodge and the attached Mr Ku’s motorbike rental helped put the loop on the map and for years the lodge has been the hub, with those who have completed the loop sharing wisdom with other travellers. Be warned, while still a great place to meet others, the value for accommodation has declined.
The tiny town of Mahaxay is 40 km east of Tha Khaek on Route 12. Though the distance from Tha Khaek is not great, you may find yourself needing to overnight here if you’ve filled the day visiting all the stops along Route 12 (“cave alley”) or are returning from the remote Xe Bang Fai cave.
Linsomphou Lodge is in the middle of nowhere but we’d certainly choose to stay here rather than the down in the dumps Mahaxay Mai Guesthouse. You’ll encounter the accommodation 13 kilometres north of Mahaxay, on the lefthand side en route to Nakai, a small cluster of buildings oddly plopped in a huge empty parcel of land with karst looming immediately behind. Even odder is the sight of... Read our full review of Linsomphou Lodge.
A kilometre north of the town junction, Mahaxay Mai Guesthouse is a dismal affair which we’ve only included because you may find it absolutely necessary to use it as a rest stop. It’s hard to believe that just a few years ago, this was a recommendable property. When we visited in November 2016, the grounds were appallingly strewn with rubbish, piles of it directly in front of the... Read our full review of Mahaxay Mai Guesthouse.
Nakai has the best places to stay on Route 1E, and there are several options, all of a good standard. Many travellers who are pressed for time choose not to stay in Nakai and push on to Thalang for a night at the extremely popular Sabaidee Guesthouse.
Our previous review named Papao Guesthouse the best in town, and that title still remains. A front gate and the family home guard the property, and the well-maintained exterior of the two-storey accommodation is a good sign for what lies inside. As expected, the rooms are neat and tidy, with fluffy comforters adorning the beds, box TV, table and chair, mirror, air-con and spacious hot water... Read our full review of Papao Guesthouse.
Tolex has been around for a few years now and has grown to have a few accommodation options that will suit different budgets. Those who are really counting every kip can opt for the wooden bungalows, which don’t look like much from the outside but are actually quite cute and charming inside, with a sunny personality from cheery yellow and cream paint. The bungalows have windows, a handy... Read our full review of Tolex Guest House.
Formerly Somsanouk Guesthouse, Khenesee Guesthouse is located all on its own outside the northern edge of town. Continue north on 1E past the guesthouse and there is nothing but road and lake views for many kilometres. The motel-style building blocks are located in the middle of a large charmless and empty plot of land, down a dirt road from the main highway where the family who owns it lives.... Read our full review of Khenesee Guesthouse.
Just 22 km north of Nakai, Thalang is a tiny village on the edge of the lake and wetlands formed by the Nam Theun 2 Dam. There are only two guesthouses, with backpacker friendly Sabaidee and its happy proprietor achieving legendary status. Homestays are available in the village just before Sabaidee and Phosy Thalang Guesthouse. Look for the blue tourism sign “Tha Lang Hamlet Homestay” with arrow pointing into the village, then look for signs on homes marked for homestay. It’s simply a room in a local’s home as well as a meal. Expect basic facilities and no English spoken.
Phosy Thalang plays second string, often getting the spillover of people once Sabaidee is full. But it has its own merits and beats Sabaidee when it comes to location—stay here for a fantastic view of the water. The guesthouse has simple wooden bungalows along the waters edge. Some are individual bungalows, others are split between two rooms. Some have hammocks on the front porch, others do... Read our full review of Phosy Thalang Restaurant and Guesthouse.
Sabaidee Guesthouse, its lovely owner and his nightly barbecue feast has achieved legendary status, mostly spread by word of mouth alone. The reputation is deserved, as Mr Thoun aka “Mr Happy” is an absolute delight, greeting every arrival in person with a smiley “sabaidee” even when his guesthouse is full, which, as we learned firsthand, can happen by 16:00. He’s extremely... Read our full review of Sabaidee Guesthouse and Restaurant.
Located in Bolikhamsai Province, Lak Xao is no more than a bustling junction between north-south running 1E and Road 8 connecting to the Vietnam border. As a busy transit point and last major pit stop before the border, Lak Xao is chock full of decent cheap places to stay—find them along both roads. There are two styles to choose from: Lao-style guesthouse or utilitarian Vietnamese hotel, “khach san” in Vietnamese.
Lak Xao doesn’t exactly elicit a warm, fuzzy feeling and the accommodation in town is much the same. Look past Souriya 2 Hotel’s impersonal facade to discover the guesthouse-style rooms are comfortable for a night. Rooms have high ceilings and those that face the front have natural light from windows and access to the balcony. There are a surprising number of mod-cons such as bedside... Read our full review of Souriya 2 Hotel.
Located on Route 8 in Khammuan Province, Na Hin is a fair spot to rest before making the 40 km journey to Konglor. The small town has pretty surrounds and a wealth of good inexpensive accommodation. Find them along the road which you come into town on and on the bus station and market road (runs south off of Route 8).
Sanhak Guesthouse gets top marks for creating an atmosphere appealing to independent travellers. Information boards suggest what guests can see and do in the area and have other helpful intel such as bus schedules. The clean rooms have a touch more comfort and class than the average guesthouse, with polished wooden floorboards, a desk, mini-fridge, TV and air-con, while there are bug screens... Read our full review of Sanhak Guesthouse.
Located just a few metres from the bus station, Phamarn View Guesthouse is a modern guesthouse with an L-shape two-storey motel building facing a large courtyard. The air-con rooms are surprisingly well appointed and has a bit of a residence vibe as there are frills like a medium sized fridge, wooden coffee table and chair and even a wardrobe with full length mirror. The wetroom-style... Read our full review of Phamarn View Guesthouse.
Though Sainamhai Resort is beginning to show its age, it still delivers an experience that trumps staying in town and it’s ideal for those happy to spend a bit more for the peace and quiet of a rural riverside location. The family-owned resort is located four kilometres from Route 8/Na Hin town centre, though if you’re heading to Konglor, it doesn’t take you off track as the road it’s... Read our full review of Sainamhai Resort.
Xokxaykham is housed in a large yet welcoming building on Route 8, and big building means big rooms and the rooms here have oodles of space, with lots of furniture to spread out on. This includes a vanity, desk, tables (plural), chair, hat stand—and somehow there’s still room to move around. Want to spread out even more? Continue outside to the communal balcony. It’s not a million... Read our full review of Xokxaykham Guesthouse.
The value on offer at this guesthouse is noteworthy, and while it's not as plush as Phamarn View or Sanhak Guesthouse, it’s a pick for budget conscious solo travellers who want air-con. There are two types of rooms. The air-con rooms in the building at the front are small with a lot squeezed in: beds with good sheets, box TV, WiFi, mini-fridge and hot water bathroom with Western toilet.... Read our full review of Loso Guesthouse.
Konglor village (Ban Konglor), the gateway to Konglor Cave, is situated a kilometre before the cave entrance. Almost all the accommodation is found along the single road leading in. The guesthouses uphold a good standard and despite being a tourist village, we found a relaxed welcome at all the places we’ve reviewed. We had previously reviewed places to stay in Ban Phou Ngeng, a village 7 km before Konglor. We removed this location as both accommodation were worn down when we inspected in 2016.
Spring River Resort’s bungalows are great, and it’s the combination of accommodation, smart service and tranquil location that makes this place a winner. About a kilometre shy of Konglor village, signs for Spring River Resort and a bumpy dirt track lead to a wooden property idyllically sprung up along the banks of the Hinboun River, at the foot of magnificent karst. During your stay... Read our full review of Spring River Resort.
Chantha has made improvements since we stayed here in 2012, with the small rooms feeling fresh when we inspected in November 2016 with white walls, tile floor, proper mattress and clean linens. The rooms are simple affairs, sufficient for a night or two, and they come with a wardrobe and table to lay things out on, along with a wetroom-style bathroom which looked well maintained and had an... Read our full review of Chantha Guesthouse.
The tourism department, no doubt with the help of some NGOs, has set up Konglor village (Ban Konglor) for homestays. Staying in someone’s home is great way to experience Lao village life. Driving into Konglor, look for the “homestay” sign pointing into the village. The homes participating in this program will have a sign on their house and a number—chat up other travellers on “the... Read our full review of Konglor Homestays.
A single motel-style building sits alone on a patch of grassy lawn, almost right in the thick of the rice paddies on the karst side of the road—it’s feels as if you could reach out and touch those incredible rock walls. On the plus side, you get that view and feeling. On the downside, the building is rather isolated and there’s no place to hang out and actually enjoy the view. Unlike... Read our full review of Khounmee Guesthouse.
There’s nothing ecolodge-ish about this and the buzzword should be taken lightly. As a guesthouse, Konglor Eco-Lodge is a decent choice and one of the most popular in the village, helped by the fact that it is the closest guesthouse to the cave. The property has two buildings, and we inspected the modern two storey building. The rooms are a little dated and the walls bear some nicks and... Read our full review of Konglor Eco-Lodge.
Rooms at Saylomyen 2 Guesthouse are located in a wooden long house which backs onto farms that stretch all the way to the limestone cliffs in the distance. Formerly Xokxay Guesthouse 2, there’s just enough space in each room to squeeze in a bed, small table, fan and a clean bathroom with hot water shower and a western toilet. The room is tight and overall it’s nothing to write home about,... Read our full review of Saylomyen 2 Guesthouse.
Located in Bolikhamsai Province, Vieng Kham is a small village sprung up at the junction where Route 8 meets the major highway Route 13. There’s nothing of interest in Vieng Kham and it has as much charm as a highway pit stop. If you find yourself in need of an overnight, a handful of accommodation options can be found along Route 8; Khamphone Keokhamphan Guesthouse, 200 metres east of the junction, is a good one.
Wang Wang’s, the most popular motorbike shop in Tha Khaek, warns on their free map that Bobbie’s Guesthouse is dangerous. When we asked why, they allege that one of their motorbikes was stolen from there in 2015.
Vieng Kham may be a necessary rest stop and luckily there’s a decent guesthouse to lay down for the night. Don’t worry that the name Khamphone Keokhamphan is a mouthful as you can’t miss its bright (and we mean BRIGHT) green two-storey motel building jazzed up with potted plants and orange trim. The inside is thankfully muted and plain: tile floors, white walls, a bed, box TV,... Read our full review of Khamphone Keokhamphan Guesthouse.