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Far East Holidays - Laos Holidays - Travel-Guides - Vientiane Capital

Vientiane Travel Guides

Reference WW40601
Vientiane Travel Guides

Life in Vientiane, the modest capital of Laos, flows along as languidly as the Mekong River, on the banks of which the city is situated. Resembling more a sprawling series of villages than an inter-connected urban metropolis, Vientiane is a sleepy place dotted with a mix of Laotian temples and French colonial buildings, most of them crumbling into decay. Paddy fields still dot the outlying suburbs and even intrude into the city centre in places. Downtown is characterised by narrow lanes that run off the main streets, where bakeries sell croissants alongside vendors touting noodle soup and sticky rice.

Sightseeing in Vientiane

Vientiane hasn't got the obvious charm of Luang Prabang and it sometimes suffers by comparison, but in truth the capital of Laos has more in the way of traditional tourist attractions than the ancient northern city, and it has put a lot of effort into encouraging sustainable tourism. Visitors won't struggle to find interesting things to see and do in Vientiane and many fall in love with the relaxed atmosphere and sleepy riverside scenes which make it an unusually laid-back capital city.

The many Buddhist temples, interspersed with modern and colonial architecture, are the main attraction in Vientiane, as they are in the whole country. Two of the best are Ho Phra Kaew, one of the oldest and most grandiose in the city, and the famous That Luang, the golden Royal Stupa, surrounded by temples, which locals insist is the main attraction in Laos. Wat Si Saket is another favourite, known for its thousands of Buddha images. Travellers should note, however, that although the temples in Laos are incredible they tend to be fairly similar; try to avoid getting temple fatigue by visiting only the best and not overloading your itinerary with them.

A visit to Vientiane should also include a shopping spree in the Morning Market (Talat Sao), a stroll through Victory Gate, a cooking course on the banks of the Mekong River, a craft class at the Houey Hong Vocational Training Centre for Women, an educational trip to the COPE Visitor's Centre and an excursion to the weird but wonderful Buddha Park (Xieng Khuan) just outside the city.

Getting around in Vientiane is easy and most sightseeing can be leisurely done on foot or by bike.