Salavan’s Heritage Sites
Visit Ong Keo Stone Stupa, a cement-less and growing pyramid of rocks commemorating a local revolutionary. Travel from Salavan Town to Toumlan to see the bombed out ruins of Khua Ban Darn Bridge, or head higher into the mountains to find remnants of the Indochina War on the Ho Chi Minh Trail.
Ong Keo Stupa: Don’t miss this one-of-a-kind stupa commemorating Ong Keo, one of Laos’ first revolutionaries to fight against the French colonialists. He played a major role in encouraging Salavan residents to fight for independence at a time when they were frightened and forced into labour.
Though the date remains elusive, Salavan’s elders place the local hero’s death in the late 1960s or early 1970s. To honour Ong Keo, villagers around Salavan Town decided to build a stupa during the war, and they did so in a most unusual way. They constructed a short, square stone wall, but lacking cement, they simply began placing rocks on top of each other. The pile turned into a growing pyramid, and locals return over the years to place rocks on the ad-hoc stupa to make merit while paying respect to Ong Keo.
Location: The stupa is located in Salavan Town’s northeast next to the hospital.
The Khoua Ban Darn Broken Bridge: Inspect the remains of a blown up bridge. Designed by Prince Souphanouvong – Laos’ first president – and built in 1942, the Khua Ban Darn Bridge spanned the Xe Don River to connect Salavan Town to Toumlan Town. The bridge was destroyed by American bombers in 1968 in an attempt to cut off an offshoot supply route of the Ho Chi Minh Trail. Visitors can examine the bridge’s remains after a taking a small ferry across the river. The span begins to protrude from the Xe Don River’s northern bank, before the iron truss span is abruptly cut off. The pier acted as a hideout and mini-fortress, and you can peak into its nooks and crannies.
Location: Drive 25 km from Salavan Town on the road to Vapi/Toumlan Districts to the Ban Nakhuang turnoff. Turn right and continue along route 23 to Ban Darn Nyai Village. From here, a barge crosses the Xe Don River close to the bridge’s remains.