Vientiane is the capital and largest city of Laos which lies on the banks of the Mekong River, facing Thailand. With a long-standing history, it is now the economic centre of Laos after having been the administrative capital during the French Colonial. Despite having said to be the capital city, Vientiane defies the stereotypical image of a city. In addition to the absence of skyscrapers, it possesses a laid-back and relaxed atmosphere as a quaint and charming city.
A charming city, Vientiane houses innumerable temples, majestic monuments, and spectacular national parks. The slow-paced and calming nature of Vientiane is sure to give you a breather as you explore what the city has to offer while observing the daily lives of locals.
What to do in Vientiane
True to its name, the park is filled with legendary Buddhist and Hindu statues.
Time in the Buddha Park would fly pass as you learn about the stories behind the statues and gain a deeper knowledge on Lao culture and beliefs. On top of that, discover the levels of Hell as believed by the locals. Only 25 km away from the city, it is suitable for a day trip.
A war memorial for those who participated in the war of …
independence from France, the Patuxai is a famous monument in Vientiane. The Patuxai, which translates to “Victory Gate”, has a Laotian design with mythological creatures carved on the monument. Upon climbing flights of stairs, be rewarded with a picturesque view on Vientiane. Take note of the position of the sun to avoid the monument’s shadow casting over the picturesque view from the top in your pictures!
The Pha That Luang, also known as “The Great Stupa”, is the most important Buddhist monument in Laos.
It is believed that within Pha That Luang, a breastbone of the enlightened Buddha is housed. The interior encompasses a mystical atmosphere with ancient Laos and Khmer artifacts and inscribed steles. Do look out for the That Luang festival as well, where various stalls are set up near the monument and the streets flooded with locals.
Temples are definitely a regular sight in Laos with Buddhism being the predominant religion in Laos.
They would go to these temples on multiple occasions to pray and seek advice from monks. The most famous temple in Vientiane would be the oldest temple, Wat Sisaket, which was the only temple not burnt during the Thai invasion. Other famous temples would include Wat In Peng and Wat Ong Teu. If you get up early, you can also observe the traditional Alms Giving Ceremony.
The Mekong River is of heavy importance to Laotians. The river is seen as the Mother River who brings the locals life and food. Heading over to the Mekong Riverside Park, you can see throngs of people gathered along the river to hang out whilst appreciating the magical sunset view. While at it, grab a drink at riverside bars as you sit back and enjoy the evening breeze.
Looking for waterfalls and jungles when in Vientiane? Located near the city, the Phou Khao Khuay National Park calls out to all nature lovers. The park offers a variety of contrasting landscapes and natural beauty, from evergreen dipterocarp forest to bamboo groves. With countless herbs lining the trail, one can learn more about what nature has to offer. This is easily accessible by joining one of GDL’s trekking tours.
For all coffee-lovers out there, this is the experience for you. Sample the different Laos coffee as learn more about them. Take on a barista course and challenge yourself to make your coffee aesthetically pleasing. Do a little café-hopping and visit the cafés that make up Vientiane’s café scene. All these activities would leave you wanting more!
Join a class and be inspired by the positivity radiating from each individual at Laos Disabled Women’s Development Center. The non-profit organization empowers disabled women by training them in handicrafts making while providing them with employment and support. You can also immerse yourself in the Lao tradition of silk weaving at Carol Cassydi Lao Textiles and create your very own precious garment.
COPE Visitor Centre is an educational place that covers the horrors inflicted on Laotians during the Vietnam War as more than 2 million tons of ordnance were dropped in Laos, making Laos the most heavily bombed country per capita today. It also provides prosthetics for those who were injured and disabled by the bombs, in hopes of bringing hope with their aid.
Vientiane by night
The Vientiane Night Market is located right beside the Mekong River, with goods sold at a great price and you can bargain for an even better deal.
Clothes, shoes, electronics. A plethora of choices available for your choosing as you stroll along the Night Market. If you are looking for food, look no further as just across the street, you will see numerous hawker stalls set up to sell mouthwatering local dishes. Discover the most delicious treats joining a night food tour!
There are several bars lining the Mekong River as one walks pass the Night Market.
There are several rooftop bars and restaurants that can enhance your experience as you feel the evening breeze whilst savoring mouth-watering local foods or relaxing with a cup of beer.
Vientiane shows the great interest Laotians have in sports, with many locals exercising along the Mekong road.
Attend a Zumba session near the Mekong River with locals! Prices differ from one group to another, but it is cheap and affordable in general. Dance to the beat of the blasting music and sweat it all out. Popular amongst locals, this would be something you might want to try.
When to go to Vientiane
There are two distinct seasons in Laos, which is the rainy season and the dry season. The rainy season is from May to October, where you can partake in some activities that are especially amazing for this season. For example, you can enjoy a road trip along the Mekong River and the Nam Ngun Dam.
During the dry season, you can experience winter in Laos from November to February, and summer from March to April. It may drop to approximately 15 degrees during winter and can go up to the 30s in the summer, so make sure to prepare well for these temperatures.
Do take note of the festivals that would be held throughout the year. Festivals in Laos are one of a kind and should not be missed! You can join in the fun during the Boat Racing Festival, one of the biggest festivals in Laos.
The weather today in Vientiane
How to get around Vientiane
From & To the airport
In the city
Out of the city
What to eat in Vientiane
Some ways to get to Vientiane
*price range is according to price for one-way
*disclaimer: the prices are approximate
Direct flight from Bangkok
1 hour 10 minutes
Indirect flight from Siem Reap
Direct flight from Hanoi
1 hour 10 minutes
Flight directly from Hanoi
1 hour 10 minutes
Direct flight from Phnompenh
1 hour 30 minutes
Direct flight from Seoul
5h hour 50 minute
Bus from Bangkok
Sleeper bus/van from Luang Prabang
Sleeper bus from Pakse
Bus/van from Vang Vieng
Day Train from Bangkok
Night Train from Bangkok
What bring to Vientiane
It is ideal to use USD as the currency to conduct your currency exchange here. Some of the recommended money changers would be -.
If you feel uncomfortable or have fallen sick in Vientiane, you can head over to the French Clinic and Allianz Clinic Vientiane, where there are English speaking doctors working.