Prince Souphanouvong Bridge

Prince Souphanouvong Bridge

Bombed out bridge

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Designed by Prince Souphanouvong, aka “the Red Prince” and Lao PDR’s first president, the Khoua Ban Darn bridge was built in 1942, spanning the Xe Don river until 1968 when it was destroyed by American bombers attempting to cut off supply lines to the Ho Chi Minh Trail.
Travelfish says:

All that remains of the broken bridge are three concrete columns and one section of the steel structure and we can confirm that as of late 2016, it is in fact still broken. Villagers use a wooden boat to cross between Salavan town and the district of Toumlan. This will only pique the interest of history buffs or those really looking for something to do. Prepare yourself for a bumpy, dusty motorbike ride.

Khoua Ban Darn broken bridge is located 20 km northwest of town. Travel west on the road towards Vapi District and after about 10 km, at Ban Nakhuang village and a sign pointing to the Xe Bang Nouan Protected Area, turn right/head north down the dirt road for 10 kilometres. This road is truly awful. It’s a combination of red dirt, sand and bone jarring sharp golf ball sized rocks. We managed (just barely) to do this by regular motorbike but it is risky as there is hardly any civilisation or infrastructure along the way, nary a village let alone a shop to repair a tire. We noticed a few sections have been graded so there is a possibility that the road may be sealed at some point.

As you near the bridge, you’ll pass through a small village with a school and then the road seems to split in two, both seemingly leading to nowhere. Follow the path down to the left to the water.

Salavan Tourism has this included on a suggested route they call the “Toumlan Weaving Trail”, a loop that goes up to Koum-ban Toumlan, a Katang weaving village. This itinerary is best for those on off road-type motorcycles who also happen to love weaving and ethnic villages.

Contact details for Prince Souphanouvong Bridge

Address: 20km northwest of Salavan
Coordinates (for GPS): 106º17'27.21" E, 15º47'24.4" N
See position in Apple or Google Maps: Apple Maps | Google Maps
Admission: Free

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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