Vientiane City TourReference WW40679
Vientiane is one of Southeast Asia’s most misunderstood cities. While many tourists dismiss it as a modern, dusty capital, it has a unique charm that unveils itself to the intrepid traveller. Spend today getting to know the true lure of Vientiane.
Start with a visit to Wat Sisaket, a serene temple whose teak hallways are filled with thousands of miniature Buddha statues. Nearby is Wat Phra Keo where ancient Lao and Khmer art works are on display and the Presidential Palace, a beautiful colonial-style building once used as the French governor’s residence.
Next it’s on to Wat Simuang to partake in a unique Laos’ tradition. This is the city’s most venerated temple and the locals believe that any wish will be granted by walking around its main pillar three times.
Continue through the centre of the city to explore the contrast of old and new. Stop at That Dam, an old stupa whose gold covering was stolen by the Thai army during their 1828 invasion. Nearby is Nam Phou Fountain, built by the French, where a plethora of fine-dining and fusion restaurants have appeared in recent years. The area is home to modern buildings but also many small, family-run tailor shops.
Take a break at midday for lunch at Makphet. This charity-run restaurant is a vocational training centre for disadvantaged youth and serves up delicious, authentic Lao cuisine.
This afternoon visit COPE, an association working to help landmine victims. The centre provides in-depth information about the lasting impact of unexploded ordinances (UXO) dropped during the Vietnam-American war.
Then it is on to two of the most recognizable landmarks in Laos: Patuxay and That Luang. Built to resemble Paris’ Arc de Triomphe, Patuxay offers fabulous views over the capital. That Luang is equally impressive, a 16th-century gilded temple that is one of the country’s holiest sites.
As evening approaches, join the locals on the banks of the Mekong River. Stroll along the riverside, stopping to enjoy a cold drink or to sample a snack from one of the many food stalls. This area is very popular with locals and is a good chance to rub shoulders with Vientiane’s residents. Wrap up this full day Vientiane tour with a full stomach and better understanding of the sleepy, charming capital.