Photo: Lunch in Huay Xai.

Fort Carnot

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Fort Carnot was an army fort built by the French around 1900, seven years after Laos was brought into French Indochina.

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Photo of Fort Carnot

There wasn’t much military action in this area and even at its peak, there were only a few French officers and 30 Lao and Vietnamese soldiers stationed here. After Laos gained independence in 1954, the Royal Lao Army and then the Lao Army took over, using the building as accommodation.

Though Fort Carnot is the best-preserved colonial military building in Laos – many of the others in Laos have been destroyed – the structure is crumbling, with large trees taking over the walls. In itself, there isn’t much to see but the climb up is a good way to get some exercise and a view.

Walk down the main street (down river direction) past the Post Office to the Lao Red Cross Bokeo administrative head office. On the right side of the building, head up the steep dirt path towards the red and white telecom towers, a 10-minute slog. Eventually you reach a mini plateau of homes and government buildings.

You should be able to freely enter the grounds through the Eastern fort (the gate was not locked). There are some hand painted signs pointing out the old dormitories and cells. We poked our heads into the prominent Western fort tower and saw a set of metal and wood stairs leading to the top. They seemed too rickety even for our adventurous souls, but if you dare to climb, given its position we suspect there’s a darn good unobstructed view of the town and river.

Or simply content yourself to walk around. It’s a lovely lonely old ruin that feels slightly haunted and you’ll likely have it all to yourself.

What next?

 Browse our independent reviews of places to stay in and around Huay Xai.
 Check prices, availability & reviews on Booking
 Read up on where to eat on Huay Xai.
 Check out our listings of things to do in and around Huay Xai.
 Read up on how to get to Huay Xai.
 Do you have travel insurance yet? If not, find out why you need it.
 Planning on riding a scooter in Huay Xai? Please read this.
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Where to next?

Where are you planning on heading to after Huay Xai? Here are some spots commonly visited from here, or click here to see a full destination list for Laos.

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