Savannakhet, officially named Kaysone Phomvihane is a city in western Laos and the capital of the Savannakhet Province. With a population of 120,000 (undated), it is the second-largest city in Laos, after Vientiane. The city is the birthplace of Kaysone Phomvihane, the first leader of Laos after the dissolution of the Kingdom of Laos from 1975 to 1992, and was named after him in 2005. Although the old French colonial quarter of the town, along the Mekong River-front, is depressed and crumbling, the town’s proximity to Thailand’s booming economy has brought about new commercial development in the northern part of the town, near both the river crossing and the bus terminal.
Like all Lao cities, Savannakhet has a mixed population of Lao, Thai, Vietnamese and Chinese, as well as minority peoples from the Lao interior. It has a large 15th-century Buddhist temple, Wat Sainyaphum, a Chinese temple, the Catholic Co-Cathedral of St. Therese and a mosque. The Second Thai–Lao Friendship Bridge over the Mekong connects to Mukdahan Province in Thailand. The two-lane, 12-metre-wide (39 ft), 1,600-metre-long (5,250 ft) bridge opened to the general public on 9 January 2007.