Phonchalern Guesthouse

Phonchalern Guesthouse

A notch above the rest on the strip

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Located in the cluster of budget accommodation near the bridge and river, Phonchalern Guesthouse’s slightly above average room rate translates to bigger, brighter rooms.

Travelfish says:
Stands out. Photo by: Cindy Fan.
Stands out. Photo: Cindy Fan

Phonchalern sits in a row of generic local hotels that seem indistinguishable from each other. Inside, however, it’s a notch above the rest and is recommendable for the backpacker seeking a modern budget option. Rooms are roomier, ceilings are tall, mattresses are thick, beds are high and topped with white cotton linens, including a duvet cover. Overall, the place has a bit more flash with extras like a lift, in-room hot drinking water dispenser and mini fridge. The larger space means a sensible layout so guests aren’t tripping and bumping into things. Rooms at the front face the river, which itself isn’t a selling point (the river is like a canal blocked by a row of parked cars). However, these rooms may be worth the extra 20,000 kip as they are larger, sport balconies and receive heaps of natural light.

Flashy extras aside, rooms are typical Lao guesthouse. There’s chilly tile floors, solid walls, windows with insect screens, box TV, wardrobe, table, extra thick blankets to counter Sam Neua’s wintery weather, fan, WiFi and ensuite bathroom with hot water showers. The bathrooms are of a decent size and unlike the other guesthouses, there’s less chance of having to shower over the toilet.

Those blankets will come in useful. Photo by: Cindy Fan.
Those blankets will come in useful. Photo: Cindy Fan

A warm and fuzzy feeling won’t be found at Phonchalern (or any Sam Neua hotel really), except perhaps at Phasouk Guesthouse where the cheap room rate, daily housekeeping and endless supply of hot drinking water brought a smile to our face. Still, with all the hotels in town being so similar, we're only splitting hairs by rating this slightly lower. Phonchalern’s spacious rooms will please larger, taller folks. Stay here if that extra bit of comfort is worth the few extra dollars.

To find Phonchalern, at Sam Neua’s central roundabout, head to the buildings adjacent to the bridge. It’s around the corner from Bounhome Guesthouse and beside Chittavanh Hotel.

Contact details for Phonchalern Guesthouse

Address: Riverside, Sam Neua
T: (020) 9999 1393;  
Coordinates (for GPS): 104º2'57.81" E, 20º24'49.7" N
See position in Apple or Google Maps: Apple Maps | Google Maps
Room rates: Under US$10

Room rates

What we were quoted as a walk-in.

Dbl fan private bathroom
120,000 kip for a deluxe room (with a balcony)
100,000 kip 100,000 kip

Reviewed by

Cindy Fan is a Canadian writer/photographer and author of So Many Miles, a website that chronicles the love of adventure, food and culture. After falling in love with sticky rice and Mekong sunsets, in 2011 she uprooted her life in Toronto to live la vida Laos. She’s travelled to over 40 countries and harbours a deep affection for Africa and Southeast Asia. In between jaunts around the world, she calls Laos and Vietnam home where you’ll find her traipsing through rice paddies, standing beside broken-down buses and in villages laughing with the locals.

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