Sleeping and Dining in Thakhek, Laos

Le Bouton d’Or Boutique Hotel

Le Bouton d’Or Boutique Hotel is the nicest place you can stay in Thakhek. With their super deluxe room costing just $70 it’s a bargain if you don’t mind a few quirks.

The colonial style, 2 story hotel located across the road from the Mekong has a central atrium configuration with just a few rooms facing the river. Despite what some reviews say none of the rooms have views of the Mekong as there are big trees between the hotel and the river. The restaurant terrace, on the other hand, is on the river side of the road under the trees with great views.

We stayed at the hotel both before and after our kayaking trip to Tham Kong Lor cave (see the previous post) and were supposed to have a super deluxe room on our return stay. Upon check in, however, the manager gave us the same room we had before. When I pointed out that we had reserved the super deluxe room she gave us the room for just $45 when we paid $60 on our initial visit. The room was much smaller than many of the photos on their website but it did have a balcony facing the river. Of course all you see are trees.

Overall I like this place, but finding someone who can speak English is sometimes a problem. They have a sign at the front desk acknowledging that not all their staff speaks fluent English. Some speak no English. But they are nice and if you return a little later there will be 4 people at the front desk and someone will be able to answer your question.

We had laundry done and luggage stored with no difficulties. Trying to get a breakfast to go for an early departure was more problematic. After going round and round with the front desk and them not having a clue as to what I wanted, I walked back to the Green Discovery office and had the agent there write me a note. It did the trick and we got our breakfast to go.


The standard breakfast is cooked to order with a small buffet of instant coffee, fruit and yogurt. For the cooked breakfast you have your choice of eggs – fried, scrambled or omelet – served with potatoes, salad and meat. Perfectly fine and middle of the road in terms of quality.

Dinner at the Bouton D’or Riverside Terrace

We stopped here for drinks at sunset and stayed for dinner. On a Monday evening we were the only patrons in the place until we left shortly after 7PM.

A pleasant evening on the terrace we ordered a number of dishes starting with the curious duck platypus. From the picture I had a vague idea that they were duck tongues. We had to try them and find out. Sure enough they were deep friend duck tongues. Really, it’s the lower jaw rather than the tongue. I haven’t had them since China.

Just in case the duck “platypus” didn’t work out, we also ordered the fried dried pork. Well done and served with a cabbage salad.

Then the morning glories sautéed with chilies and garlic, a dish we hadn’t had since Vietnam, served fresh and tasty.

For mains the green curry with chicken and the steamed tilapia with lime and chili. Not as good as at the Happy Mango in Vang Vieng but everything was fresh and well executed. A delightful meal and lovely ambiance watching the setting sun and sky change colors across the Mekong over Thailand.

Smile Guesthouse and Restaurant

One of the worst dinners we’ve had in Laos. Their open terrace across the road from the river looks inviting. Decorated in dark wood the dining room has an upscale feel with lots of servers, none of whom speak very much English. The menu probably, the longest and heaviest I’ve seen anywhere, included almost all Asian dishes.

We tried the mushroom curry, really a mushroom soup with lots of varieties of mushrooms and the best dish of the evening.

There was a mix up in our order and we actually ended up with two fish dishes; a steamed fish in soy sauce and the fried “snapper” with herbs. The snapper looked great and was freshly prepared but the fish was overcooked and not fresh. Both fish were not super fresh and had a mud river taste. Considering snapper is a sea fish it shouldn’t taste like the river.

We also tried the octopus which had a picture of squid on the menu so I wasn’t surprised that it turned out to be stuffed squid. Normally a dish I love, this version just didn’t taste good. The preparation was way too salty and garlicky with the squid overcooked and dried out.

The quality at of the food at our hotel, Bouton d’Or, was much better with a more pleasant riverside setting as the terrace is actually on the river, not across the street from it as the Smile terrace is.

November 5-8, 2018

For links to all the posts in this series see the Laos/Cambodia page.