Vientiane is a charming city that is situated in the heart of Laos, surrounded by the breathtaking Mekong River valley. The city’s tranquil atmosphere is the perfect place to unwind and relax while taking in the mix of colonial French architecture and traditional Lao buildings. The city is known for its delicious cuisine, which offers a tantalizing blend of local and international flavours. Traditional Lao dishes such as laap and tam mak hoong are not to be missed, but visitors will also find a range of French-influenced cuisine, including freshly-baked baguettes and flaky croissants. Vientiane’s fascinating blend of cultural influences, coupled with its friendly locals, make it a must-visit destination for anyone travelling to Laos.
The best time to visit Vientiane, the capital city of Laos, is during the cooler, drier months between November and February. During this time, the temperature is generally mild, ranging from the high 20s to the low 30s Celsius, and there is very little rain. However, keep in mind that this is also peak tourist season, so expect larger crowds and higher prices. If you prefer a quieter, less crowded experience, consider visiting during the shoulder seasons of March to May or September to October, when the weather is still relatively dry and temperatures are a bit warmer.
- Vientiane is the largest city and capital of Laos, with a population of around 820,000 people.
- The name “Vientiane” means “city of sandalwood” in the Lao language.
- Despite being the capital city, Vientiane has a laid-back and relaxed atmosphere, which is one of its main attractions.
- Despite being a relatively small city, Vientiane has a surprisingly large number of temples, including Wat Si Saket, Wat Phra Kaew, and Wat Ong Teu.
After you check in to your hotel, head down to Wat Si Saket. It is a famous temple located in the heart of Vientiane, Laos. The temple is one of the oldest and most important in the city, known for its beautiful architecture and stunning murals. It was built in 1818 by King Anouvong and is the only temple in Vientiane to survive the Siamese invasion of 1828.
One of the unique features of Wat Si Saket is its cloister wall, which surrounds the temple complex and contains more than 2,000 Buddha statues. Inside the temple, visitors can marvel at the stunning murals that cover the walls. The murals depict scenes from the life of Buddha and are considered some of the best examples of Buddhist art in Southeast Asia. The main hall of the temple is also home to a large Buddha statue and intricate carvings that showcase the temple’s unique architecture.
The Patuxai Monument was built between 1957 and 1968 and was designed to resemble the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, but with Laotian motifs. The monument is situated in the center of a large roundabout and is surrounded by a park with fountains and gardens.
The Patuxai Monument was built to commemorate the Laotian people’s struggle for independence from France. The monument is adorned with intricate carvings and sculptures, including images of Hindu gods and goddesses, as well as Laotian mythical creatures. The monument is open to the public, and visitors can enter for a small fee. If you’re visiting Vientiane, the Patuxai Monument is definitely worth a visit.
Pha That Luang is a must-visit attraction in Vientiane, Laos. It is a golden stupa (a dome-shaped Buddhist shrine) that is considered the most important national monument in the country. The stupa has a height of about 45 meters and is covered in gold leaf. It is surrounded by beautifully landscaped gardens, which make for a great place to relax and take in the views.
To get to Pha That Luang from Wat Si Saket, you can take a tuk-tuk, a taxi, or rent a bicycle. The journey will take around 20-30 minutes, depending on traffic. Once you arrive, you can explore the beautiful gardens and the stupa itself. Don’t forget to take plenty of photos of the impressive golden structure and its intricate details. If you have time, you can also visit the nearby That Luang Tai temple, which is a smaller stupa but equally beautiful. The temple has a serene atmosphere and offers a great place to sit and meditate. Additionally, there are a few shops and food vendors in the area, where you can purchase souvenirs or try some traditional Lao snacks.
The Ho Phra Keo Museum, also known as Haw Phra Kaew, is a former Buddhist temple that was originally built in 1565 to house the Emerald Buddha, which was later taken to Thailand and now resides in the Wat Phra Kaew temple in Bangkok. After the Emerald Buddha was taken away, the temple was converted into a museum in the 1970s and now displays a collection of Buddhist artifacts, including statues, carvings, and other religious objects. The museum also features exhibits on the history of the temple and the city of Vientiane. The temple’s architecture is a blend of Lao and Thai styles, with intricate carvings and gilded details throughout. Visitors can explore the temple’s many rooms and galleries, admiring the ornate decorations and learning about the history and culture of Laos.
During the Vietnam War, the United States dropped millions of tons of bombs on Laos, which is the most heavily bombed country in the world per capita. Many of these bombs did not explode on impact and continue to pose a significant threat to people living in rural areas. The COPE Visitor Centre features exhibits that highlight the history of the bombing campaign and the ongoing efforts to clear unexploded ordnance from Laos. The museum also showcases the work of COPE, which provides prosthetic limbs, orthotic devices, and rehabilitation services to people who have been injured by UXO accidents. Gain a better understanding of the history and culture of Laos, as well as the ongoing challenges faced by people living in rural areas. It is an important and informative destination in Vientiane and a must-visit!
The Mekong River is one of the longest and most important rivers in Southeast Asia, and it runs along the western edge of the city of Vientiane. As you walk along the Mekong Riverside, you’ll be able to take in stunning views of the river, as well as the mountains on the opposite bank. There are several small parks along the way where you can sit and relax, or you can simply enjoy the views while strolling along the river. In the evening, the Mekong Riverside comes alive with food vendors, musicians, and locals out for an evening stroll.
This is a great time to visit if you want to experience the local culture and enjoy the festive atmosphere. You can also take a sunset boat ride on the river to enjoy the view from a different perspective. The Mekong Riverside is also home to several notable attractions, such as Buddha Park, which is located a short distance from the river. The park features a collection of large and elaborate Buddhist sculptures, including a giant reclining Buddha.
The Vientiane Night Market is a vibrant and bustling open-air market that is a popular destination for locals and tourists alike. You’ll find a wide variety of vendors selling everything from clothing and accessories to handicrafts and souvenirs. There are also food stalls offering traditional Laotian dishes and street food favourites, such as grilled meats, sticky rice, and noodle dishes.
One of the highlights of the Vientiane Night Market is the opportunity to watch local artisans at work, such as weaving traditional textiles, carving wooden statues, and making silver jewellery. You can also find unique and authentic Laotian products, such as silk scarves, woven baskets, and handmade pottery. The Vientiane Night Market is also a great place to experience the local culture and nightlife. You can mingle with locals and fellow travellers, sample Laotian street food, and listen to live music and performances!
Where to Stay In Vientiane
Lao Poet Hotel
Rue Hengbounnoy, Vientiane
This 4-star hotel offers an outdoor swimming pool, free private parking, a terrace, and a restaurant, as well as a bar and free WiFi throughout the property. The air-conditioned rooms come equipped with a desk, fridge, kettle, safety deposit box, flat-screen TV, and private bathroom with a shower. Guests can enjoy a delicious à la carte, continental, or American breakfast each morning at the hotel. The hotel also provides a 24-hour front desk, airport transfers, and room service.
La Seine Hotel
160 Fangeum Road, Ban Sithaneu, Mueang Sikhot Tabaong Noi 13, Vientiane
This 5-star hotel boasts a restaurant and bar, as well as luggage storage space. The hotel also provides a 24-hour front desk, airport transfers, room service, and free WiFi throughout the property. All guest rooms at La Seine Hotel are air-conditioned and feature a seating area, flat-screen TV with satellite channels, a safety deposit box, and a private bathroom with a bidet, free toiletries, and a hairdryer. Each room also includes a kettle, while some rooms offer a balcony or city views. Guests can enjoy a buffet, à la carte, or American breakfast during their stay at the hotel.
No.138, Norkeokoummarn Rd., Ban Mixay, Chanthabouli District, Vientiane
Chanthapanya Hotel provides comfortable accommodations with an outdoor pool and sauna, as well as free WiFi for guests. The on-site restaurant is available for guests to enjoy, and free private parking is also available on-site. Guests can relax in the seating area provided in certain units, which also feature a flat-screen TV with cable channels. The property has a 24-hour front desk available to assist guests with their needs.
Buddha Park, also known as Xieng Khuan, is a popular tourist destination located about 25 kilometres southeast of Vientiane, Laos. The park features a collection of more than 200 Buddhist and Hindu statues, many of which are made of concrete and are quite large in size.
The park was built in 1958 by a Lao monk named Bunleua Sulilat, who sought to create a place for people to practice and learn about Buddhism and Hinduism. The statues at the park depict a range of religious figures and scenes, including the Buddha, Shiva, Vishnu, and various demons and animals. One of the park’s most famous structures is a giant reclining Buddha, which is more than 40 meters long!
Wealth Coffee Shop & Nature Hike
If you’re looking for a nature hiking experience in Laos, Wealth Coffee Shop & Nature Trails is a must-visit destination. Although there aren’t many proper nature trails in the area, the multi-use trails at Wealth Coffee are one of the exceptions. These trails are perfect for hikers, walkers, trail runners, and mountain bikers, and they are well-maintained by the staff at Wealth Coffee, which is an excellent little coffee shop and restaurant located on-site. Start your morning with your favourite cup of coffee and hit the trails for a refreshing hike. You can take a break on the way back and enjoy a delicious lunch at the coffee shop before heading back to Vientiane.
The Floating Hut Restaurants on Nam Houm Reservoir
If you’re looking for an authentic on-water dining experience in Laos, the Floating Hut Restaurants on Nam Houm Reservoir is a must-visit destination. While there are several options for floating restaurants in the area, including the popular Champa Garden Restaurant and the floating restaurants at Tha Ngon, the ones at Nam Houm offer a unique experience. To order food, simply head to the large restaurant hut at the top of the hill and give them the number of your hut. Once your food is ready, you can head out to the lake and enjoy your meal in the serenity of the water!
- If you have time visit the Laos National Museum — it’s a little further from the rest of the attractions but if you can make it – well worth the trip.
- Respect local customs and traditions: Laos is a predominantly Buddhist country, and it is important to dress modestly when visiting temples or other religious sites and remove your shoes before entering.
- Try the street food: Vientiane is known for its delicious street food, so be sure to try some of the local dishes. Some popular street food dishes include khao jee (Laotian baguette sandwich), som tam (papaya salad), and grilled meat skewers.
- Rent a bicycle: Vientiane is a relatively small city and renting a bicycle is a great way to explore the city at your own pace. Many hotels and guesthouses offer bicycle rentals.
- Bargain at markets: Bargaining is expected at markets in Vientiane, and it is common for vendors to initially offer a higher price. Be sure to negotiate respectfully and be willing to walk away if you cannot agree on a fair price.
- Take a tuk-tuk: Tuk-tuks are a common mode of transportation in Vientiane, and are a fun way to explore the city. Be sure to negotiate the fare with the driver before getting in.
Make sure you have everything you need
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