Vientiane : Laos’ Capital

Vientiane : Laos’ Capital

If you are to travel in Vientiane (which is the capital of Laos) it could be one of the friendliest and delightful experience, or you can get bored also quickly there. It really depends what you are looking for. I like Vientiane to eat beside the Mekong, get a Lao massage, buy handicraft, find French books, or eat a delicious sandwich (Vietnamese style) on baguette. Coffee is very good in Lao, probably because of the weather, they can cultivate their own coffee.

There isn’t much in Vientiane except the waterfront of the Mekong that you could walk in less than one hour. Beer Lao is very good. Treat yourself with Lam Bo Crododile on the Mekong! Available at the Samyek Pakpasack Khemkong restaurant. Nice view on the Mekong. You can also get deep fried crickets, scorpions and littles snakes.

Some art, at the night market near the Mekong in Vientiane.

There are French mansions and bougainvillea that can be seen along the streets and noodle stalls in the town. It is quite convenient for travellers especially around Nam Phu, the riverside of Mekong and the streets too. You will see a lot that include the Buddha Park, the morning market, Sisaket temple and other restaurants which will make you have a taste of some international cuisines that you have never tasted before. You can eat Thai, French, Chinese, Italian, you find everything in Vientiane. There isn’t much to see, you can easily see most attractions in 2 days, but it’s a relaxing place. If you want a massage, in Thailand, it normally starts with you lying on your back. In Laos, it’s normally opposite. Like in Thailand, massage are done with your clothes on (unless you want a special massage!).

That is the famous Patuxai or victory gate. A kind of “Arc de triomphe”. You can go upstairs to have a nice view.

This city sits just on the northern river bank of Mekong. It faces the town of Nong Khai in Thailand. The food is especially good in Vientiane, probably because of it’s French influence. It is also known for its rich culture and for the hospitality of the people living within the place. The city name is correctly pronounced as Wiang Jan which is a city of occasions because of numerous occasions that are being held in this place since 1828. Just like other French colonial cities in the world, Vientiane is also characterized by boulevards and colonial mansions.

The first time I went to Vientiane in 2004, I found a place called VVV that were selling great sandwiches. It was owed by 3 Vietnamese sisters. I later went back in 2006 and 2007 there. I didn’t know it was well known and almost in all guide books like lonely planet or guide du routard. I could not find it in 2012 because we were there only for a day. They sell sandwiches everywhere, ask with paté and pork, and traditional vegetables. It will cost you 1$ and it’s delicious.

You will find a nice list of bars and restaurants here:

http://www.travelfish.org/eatandmeet/laos/vientiane_and_surrounds/vientiane/vientiane/eat

Wat Sisaket is probably one of the best thing to visit with the Lao National History museum. You can also climb up Patuxai to have a nice view of the city, but there isn’t much at this victory gate beside people selling T-shirts and some handicraft from Laos. You will find better handicraft, t-shirt and art at the night market, near the Mekong, at the evening. Or even at the famous morning market (also opened in the afternoon and quite big). Tons of copies, illegal DVDs, Louis Vuitton, Rolex, etc.  DVDs are about 4000 kips. (50 cents)

The city started to become modernize in the early 1990s. The economic development of the country also started to arise. There were investors who tried their luck there which actually made the slow moving city transformed into a new captivating and modernize city. Slowly, Mekong riverfront transforms into a promenade from its simple grass bank in the past. Now there are hospitals and Xang hotel which is so lovely because of the nice pathway that they have along with the garden and green sceneries around.

For a capital city, Vientiane is truly one of a kind even if it can be considered as simple and not yet overloaded with lots of sights to see such as museums and others like what you typically see in other capital cities in the world. Visiting Vientiane will surely make any vacation complete especially when you come and try to experience living here like riding a bike and roaming around the river, have a snack, and wait for the sun to set. You will surely appreciate Vientiane even more.

There are TONS of guesthouses in Vientiane. We suggest you to book via Agoda.com.
That picture is Mixay guesthouse, where you can get a room with a fan for about 10-15$ US.
Verify the location, closest to the Mekong is normally the best part of the city.

If you are leaving from Nakhon Ratchasima, there is an excellent Bus service, each morning at 9am. Check this article to know more:

http://www.isaan.com/en/about/laos/bus-nakhon-ratchasima-to-vientiane-laos.html

There are lots of hotels there that may accommodate you while you are in Laos. Getting around this city is so easy because it is not as big as other cities in the world. You will never be too far from the sceneries and riverfront but when you get to the center of the city you will find more guest houses there to stay. There are also restaurants and cafes to satisfy your cravings and to quench your thirst as well. But negotiate with the Tuk Tuk drivers. They normally ask foreigners two or three times the real prices.

You will find some of our pictures of Vientiane here:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/50651722@N03/sets/72157627990282408/

Or on Facebook here:

http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.178554612230365.44984.158964164189410&type=1

This post is also available in: French

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