Quiet, calm and placid! That’s what Vientiane is. This capital city of Laos is literally one of the best city I’ve ever visited. Why? Because it’s the only capital city that I’ve been to so far that welcomes you with its perfect tranquility and relaxing ambiance. It’s incredibly amazing! In terms of what to do in Vientiane, expect to have Wats (Temples) on your list, in any others, there’s a lot to see and visit within the city itself. What are those? Here are some of the interesting places to visit around Vientiane.
An old stupa located at the roundabout not far from the morning market of Talat Sao. Also called “The Black Stupa” where locals have a deep belief that the stupa was once the residence of a seven-headed Nãga (Great Snake) to defend them from Thai invasion. Historical although not verifiable, That Dam was also coated entirely with gold.
Wat Si Saket
The most popular temple rooted in Laos’ capital, Wat Si Saket draws more attention because of its location. The only oldest surviving temple caused by Thai invasion – as believed. In Wat Si Saket, you can spot numbers of tiny sitting Buddha images in rows which are very fascinating.
The Presidential Palace
Just the neighbor of Wat Si Saket, the palace is the official residence of the President of Laos. Wrapped with splendid Beaux-Arts architecture, the palace is also enveloped with well-groomed attractive lawns and gardens. It’s Iron Gate? Well it’s so nice and awesome! Check out Wat Si Meuang too.
Chou Anouvong (Park)
A historic monument fronting the beautiful Mekong River, he is Xaiya Setthathirath V (Chou Anouvong) who led the Laotian rebellion. At the very end of the park, the Night Market is situated with lots of stuffs to buy at reasonable cheap price alongside with the queues of bars along Quai Fa Ngum street.
The River Side (Mekong River)
This is my favorite place in Vientiane and I keep on coming here every sundown. Though sometimes large numbers of locals are heading here, just find yourself the best spot to witness the magnificent sunset over Thailand which is just across the river. Before you get to the river, you’ll be walking on beach-like sand so take off your shoes or just wear slippers for convenience.
The most sacred monument not just in Vientiane Capital but to the entire country covered all in gold and of course a national symbol. That Luang means “The Great Stupa” a symbol of Buddhist religion and Lao autonomy. According to the legend, the stupa contains a relic of the Buddha.
Built in commemoration for those Laotians who fought and died for independence against French, Patuxai Monument or the Victory Monument is truly fetching on its unique Laotian structural design consists with seven floors and dominates the skyline sitting just right at the center of Vientiane.
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Where to stay
If you want to get close to everything stay around or near Setthathirath Road. I stayed at Niny Backpacker Hostel (45,000 Kip/night), a simple and nice hostel just a couple of walk from the night market, to the local restaurants and even to the bars.
Where to eat
Cheap and very Lao, head to those local restaurants just in front of the Chinese temple along Quai Fa Ngum Street and at night time, your best option is to make your way to the night market where local vendors are selling very affordable street foods to taste.
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There are wide selections of how to get to Vientiane Capital. Buses are available departing from any parts of Laos and even from Vietnam and Thailand. If you prefer to fly, regular schedules are just on tap – Lao Airlines as the flag carrier.