Savannakhet is the country's most populous province and is home to about 15% of all Lao citizens. Stretching between the Mekong and Thailand in the west and the Annamite Mountains and Vietnam in the east, it has become an important trade corridor between these two bigger neighbours. With the smooth surface of Rte 9 complemented by yet another Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge, the province is witnessing even more traffic.
The population of around one million includes Lowland Lao, Tai Dam, several small Mon-Khmer groups and communities of Vietnamese and Chinese.
There are three NPAs here: Dong Phu Vieng to the south of Rte 9; remote Phu Xang Hae to the north; and Se Ban Nuan straddling the border with Salavan Province. Eastern Savannakhet is a good place to see remnants of the Ho Chi Minh Trail, the primary supply route to South Vietnam for the North Vietnamese Army during the Second Indochina War.