Things To Do In Vientiane, Laos
The capital city of the most heavily bombed country in the world – thats how we’d been introduced to Vientiane. But the sheer volume of history pouring out of the city’s monuments soon made us realise that it was so much more than just a former colony of the West!
In this blog post, you’ll find everything that you need to know to visit Vientiane. Starting with what to see in Vientiane, we’ve listed down some useful information about where to stay, where to eat and how to get around in Vientiane.
Visit the Gilded Pha That Luang Pagoda
The “Great Stupa” or That Luang (in Lao) is the most iconic monument in the city. Having been plundered and restored repeatedly up to the 1950s, this temple is said to be one of the grandest in the region and represents the epitome of Buddhist culture in Laos since its construction in the 3rd century! The gold colouring was apparently once made entirely of real gold leaf, but was all taken away in the Siamese invasion in the 1800s.
With a modest entrance fee of LAK 10,000 (INR 83 or USD 1.2), expect to spend about an hour admiring this beautiful temple whilst walking the lawns, around the square stupa.
Admire the Patuxai Victory Monument in the city centre
Built as a testament to the victories of the Laotian people in WWII and in the liberation from French control, the Patuxai memorial was modelled on the Arc De Triomphe in Paris, with numerous features of Lao architecture, particularly the tower tops. The interiors were decorated with snippets from Lao culture, some of which is visible even today. The ceiling of the inner dome bears murals of Hindu Gods Brahma, Vishnu and Indra.
There is a nominal fee of LAK 6,000 (INR 25 or USD 0.4, cents) to climb to the top of the towers, and its definitely worth a visit to the top, to see the city from a different perspective! Expect to spend an hour in the premises.
Tip: The Ezhara beach is best visited during the morning hours, while the Kizhuna beach is a sunset beach – so plan to spend your day accordingly!
Offer your prayers at the Wat Ho Phra Kaew
The shrine of the Emerald Buddha, was formerly home to the legendary idol. In the plundering of Vientiane by the Thai forces in the 1800s, the emerald idol was stolen and taken away to Bangkok. It was sanctified in the Wat Phra Kaew there, and is even now worshipped by the people there. It’s on our Bangkok explorers’ list here.
Today, this temple stands as a museum housing many Buddhist and sacred Lao artefacts, some of which are from the 6th century! Entrance fee of Wat Ho Phra Kaew costs LAK 10,000 (INR 83 or USD 1.2). Expect to spend about 45 minutes admiring the artefacts and the gardens.
Other places to see in Vientiane
Explore the city centre on foot/by tuktuk. An all-day tuktuk hire cost starts at around USD 12 and it is the most convenient way to see the city.
The Buddha Park which is in the south-eastern section of the city is a great place to see how well Hinduism and Buddhism integrate. There are nearly 200 buddha statues and idols, some of which are actually very large. The tallest idol is actually so big, that it is visible across the river from Thailand too! Spend an hour or two at the Buddha Park, Vientiane.
Explore the city and the night market by the Mekong River
Visit the avenues around the Presidential Palace in downtown Vientiane. Take a break at one of the many streetside cafés in the city while admiring the Buddhist and colonial architecture.
Take a walk along the Mekong in the evenings – there’s a wonderful night market and you can buy from a big variety of clothes, food, and electronics at some really incredible prices. And wave to the other side of the Mekong – thats Thailand!
Where to eat in Vientiane
Street food in Vientiane and authentic Lao cuisines include Baguettes (due to the French rule). There are many other cuisines as well, including Indian (and Bangladeshi) restaurants serving South Asian food.
Best place to eat street food is the Night market along the Mekong river.
Where to stay in Vientiane:
Vientiane has a wide range of hotels and hostels starting at very low prices. We stayed at the Vientiane Luxury Hotel – the room was clean and air-conditioned and the hotel was quite nice. The cost for one night was LAK 228,000 or USD 26 (INR 1,800).
See all accommodations in Vientiane here.
Getting to Vientiane:
Vientiane is well connected internationally through its Airport – flights from South East Asia, and from the rest of Asia through Bangkok, Kuala Lampur and Singapore.
Intercity Bus in Laos:
- Bus from Vientiane to Vang Vieng / Bus from Vang Vieng to Vientiane (3.5 hours)
- Bus from Vientiane to Luang Prabhang / Bus from Luang Prabhang to Vientiane (8 hours)
- Bus from Vientiane to other south Lao cities
You can also take a bus from Thailand to Laos.
Buy bus tickets for Laos here.
Getting around in Vientiane:
- The best and cheapest way of exploring the city is by Tuktuk. The cost of tuktuk rides starts at about LKP 100,000 (about INR 850 or USD 12) for four sightseeing places.
- Rent a bicycle for a couple of dollars or rent a scooters at about LAK 80,000 (USD 10 or less)
- For more comfort, use Grab Taxi services
If you have any more questions about planning a trip to Vientiane, don’t hesitate to leave a comment here or write to us!