Laos in Brief – A Quick Guide to Vientiane
A Quick Guide to Vientiane
Vientiane captivates you as soon as you arrive. It is unusually quiet and cozy for a capital city in South East Asia. The city perfectly combines traditional lifestyle with modern infrastructure. Gold on the temple roofs sparkles even brighter next to the houses made of dark wood. The spacious riverside area – unofficial centre of the town – offers a perfect setting for a leisurely stroll at sunset or a relaxed dinner with a local beer.
What to do and see in Vientiane
Stroll along the riverside at sunset.
Mekong riverside provides something for everyone. You can stroll along the river watching long boats disappearing in the distance. If you are interested in local life, stop by fishermen catching their dinner, or watch groups of students practicing their dance moves. Or you can drop in at one of the many open cafes and relax with a glass of Beer Lao.
Count Buddha statues in Wat Si Saket
Si Saket is the oldest remaining temple of Vientiane. A long time ago it was the home of the Emerald Buddha (now in the Royal Palace, Bangkok). Temple walls are filled with hundreds of niches housing big and small Buddha statues. Wooden walls are covered in frescoes depicting the history of Buddhism and the most important stages of Buddha’s life.
Visit the Symbol of Laos
Though locals call Laos “The Land of a Million Elephants”, the national symbol is not an elephant. It is the county’s most important religious structure – Pha That Luang. Giant golden stupa is even featured on the national flag. The stupa is in the centre of all national and religious holidays of Laos. And on ordinary days it’s one of the most popular spots for the wedding photography. Walk around and see how many couples in bright traditional clothes you meet.
Enjoy shopping at the Night Market
When the sun sets, the riverside fills with pop-up stalls selling traditional fabrics, pretty ornaments, bright bags and rugs. Don’t miss the opportunity to buy lanterns made of handmade paper with flowers and herbs
After exploring the town there’s nothing better than to enter a cool and fragrant spa. You might face a tough choice to decide between many types of massages, body and skin treatments. Though, why chose just one? Indulge yourself on a whole package that will relax your body and calm your soul.
How’s the food?
In the evening, the riverside fills with stalls and pop-up restaurants that offer the most traditional Laotian dishes. Try fresh papaya salads richly seasoned with herbs and lime. Or opt for a grilled duck served with spicy dip and sticky rice. And for the dessert try one of the local mixes of fruit and beans with coconut milk and ice. If you fancy both western and Lao cuisines, head to the Fountain Square. There are plenty of bars and restaurants that offer traditional and western dishes and excellent cocktail mixes.
Make sure to take local tuktuk (jumbo) across the town – these brightly painted motorised vehicles can be found everywhere. They work as shared taxies, but you can hire one just for yourself.
Where can I stay?
As a capital city Vientiane has lots of options for any budget. Small family run hotels and B&B guesthouses offer great opportunity to see local life. If you are looking for relaxing atmosphere – check out more luxurious hotels and riverside resorts. They not only provide beautifully fitted spacious rooms, but also offer many additional services: spas, pools and restaurants.
Is Vientiane for you?
It is a perfect city for history buffs and art lovers, couples and families with children. It is one of the best cities to start exploring SE Asia.
The best time to go to Vientiane
Best time to visit Vientiane is during the dry season from end of October until mid-April. Most of the days the temperature stays at a comfortable 20-27 degrees, with a cool breeze from the Mekong River. But even if you can only go on holidays in May-September, you won’t be disappointed with the weather. Tropical rains don’t last long, and the sun dries pavements very quickly. Even during the wet season temperatures stay at about 25 degrees.
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