- Encounters with locals
- Place or Religious Monument
- Place or Historical Monument
I wanted to visit the city of Vientiane during my journey from Luang Prabang in the north and Pakse in the south and I generally appreciated this 2-day stopover.
I would say that Vientiane is more of a stopover city than an unmissable place to visitduring a stay in Laos. Even though there is a pleasant provincial atmosphere about the place that makes it a world apart from the bustle of its counterparts in Southeast Asia, I did not find that there was anything particularly charming about Vientiane.
Nevertheless, I recommend strolling through the alleys of the Khua Din market and observing the colonial architecture of some public buildings. Don't miss a visit to the poignant COPE museum that is dedicated to the victims of landmines. To finish off the day, there's nothing like a drink on one of the terraces on the Mekong River to admire a beautiful sunset.
I had been advised not to spend too much time in Vientiane during my trip to Laos. However, I was pleasantly surprised by this capital, which is culturally quite rich and full of surprises. I enjoyed discovering the city by bicycle: you can rent them from most hotels and guesthouses or directly in the street.
The huge local market, located in the city centre, is an essential part of any visit to Vientiane. You'll find everything there: food, animals, clothing and various objects. Many temples are also worth a visit, such as Wat Si Saket or Wat Haw Pha Kaeo.
The visit of the COPE association centre, which provides prostheses for the victims of the landmines that are still very much a reality in Laos, was one of the most moving and important moments of my trip.
Vientiane combines both the modernity and tradition of Laos. You can feel it from your first steps in the city. I visited the museums and temples of the city, but I also set out to discover the flavours of Asia at the Talat Sao. Besides clothing, jewellery and computer hardware, Talat Sao is also a typical fruit and vegetable market.
I found it pleasant to stroll along the banks of the Mekong River, which enables you to get away from the dense traffic of Vientiane. After the night market, where you can find both traditional handicrafts and copies of high-tech equipment or clothing, you can take advantage of the lively atmosphere of the bars.
For me, Vientiane remains a springboard towards the other treasures to discover during a trip to Laos.
I stayed two days in Vientiane and I didn't really get on with the town, which is so different from other south-east Asian capitals. I was quite disappointed with the Laotian capital, perhaps because I found it too tranquil, "boring" really, after having visited other much more lively towns. It's good for people who are looking to relax then.
The town is quite small, on a human scale so I could walk around it. There are wide roads and the architecture is still very colonial. I saw quite a lot of restaurants selling international cuisine, especially French.
But from a historic point of view, I didn't really find any ancient monuments to visit. There is the Laos National Museum, which wasn't terribly interesting, and Patuxai, an arch which is dedicated to people who fought against France for the country's independence.
Although it's the capital of Laos, Vientiane is not as well known as Luang Prabang. I arrived here at 7pm during my trip to Laos and trying to find a room was a nightmare.
The next day I explored the curve of the Mekong, which forms a crescent moon shape at this point. Which also explains why Vientiane is known as the 'City of the Moon'. The town has long, wide avenues lined with colonial houses, giving the capital an old-world, sleepy feel. Breathe in the calm! It was here that the Thai stole the Emerald Buddha, which now sits in Wat Phra Kaeo in Bangkok. Even so, I didn't find the town as a whole particularly charming. So here we are, far from the enchanting Luang Prabang.
Let's at least do a tour of the Talat Sao and Khua Dinn market. Apart from being a market full of exotic produce, it also resembles a shopping precinct. A bit of a disappointment, but I suggest you try the 'Lao sandwich', which is stuffed with strips of pork and salad. Unusual but tasty nonetheless. Once you've had your fill, head to Patuxai, a triumphal arch. A bit further on, you'll find one of Laos' most revered sites. The immense sacred stupa of Wat That Luang. It houses one of Buddha's hairs and the ashes of his hip.