Vientiane (ວຽງຈັນ) is the capital of Laos and has about 400,000 inhabitants. This makes it one of the smallest capitals of Asia and when visiting this city you will soon notice that the atmosphere is friendly and relaxed. Nevertheless, many tourists skip this capital, while there are a number of interesting sights to be found. Read it in this mini travel guide about the capital of Laos, Vientane.
What would you like to know about Vientiane in Laos?
- Sightseeing – 4 interesting places in Vientiane
- Accommodation – Where to stay?
- Transport – How to get there?
Sightseeing – 4 sights in Vientiane
Vientiane is the smallest capital of Southeast Asia and therefore does not have much to offer. Nevertheless, there are a number of nice sights that are worth seeing. Below is a list of the most important places…
1. Climb the Laotian Arc the Thriump: Patuxai
A visit to Vientiane is not complete without a visit to Patuxai, or the Arc de Triomf of Laos. This tower was built in the sixties of the twentieth century with cement that the United States gave to build a new airport. It is possible to climb the tower. On the first floor there is even a large room where clothes and souvenirs are sold. If you follow the road to the south you will arrive at the Presidential Palace.
2. Pha That Luang
Pha That Luang is a Buddhist temple, 3 kilometers north of the center of Vientiane. It is seen by the inhabitants of Laos as one of the most important temples of the country. It is depicted on the banknotes of the Laotian Chicken (currency, not animal). There is said to have been a temple here as early as the third century AD. In 1828 the temple was destroyed during a Thai invasion, but was soon rebuilt. It is also claimed that a hair of the Buddha is kept in the temple.
3. COPE Visitor Centre
This small museum east of the centre deals with the damage left behind by the Vietnam War and its consequences. Unexploded bombs are still being found in Laos and are still associated with casualties. The COPE Visitor Centre gives more information about this and can be visited free of charge.
4. Xieng Khuan
25 kilometres southeast of Vientiane is Xieng Khuan, or Buddha Park. The construction of this park started in 1958 and there are more than 200 religious statues. If you have time left and would like to see some more, this would be a funny idea. Bus 14 from Talat Sao Bus Station (in the center) leaves every fifteen minutes to this place.
Accommodation – Where to stay in Vientiane?
As mentioned before, Vientiane is not a big city and a number of places of interest are within walking distance. The city lies on the Mekong River and from the quay you can wave to the locals of Thailand. Most hotels and guesthouses are located close to the Mekong River, in the center of the city. Ban Anou is seen as the center and every night you can enjoy the Lao food on the nightmarket.
Many expats live in Vientiane. And many of these expats have started their own restaurant here and that is why there are so many different kinds of restaurants in Vientiane. Whether you like pizza, hamburgers, Asian food or Crepes? In Vientiane you will find it all!
Transport – How to get to Vientiane?
By plane: Vientiane airport is called Wattay International Airport. It is located about 3 kilometers west of the city center and is used for national flights as well as flights to other Asian cities such as Bangkok, Seoul, Kunming, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore and Hanoi. There are a number of Shuttle Buses that can take you to the airport and otherwise there are taxis and tuktuks to book at the terminal.
Bus: Vientiane has 3 main bus stations. In the center opposite the market is Vientiane Bus Station (Khua Din Bus station) where buses depart in Vientiane and the surrounding area. Also buses to Thailand depart from here.
In the northwest is the northern bus station where buses to Vang Vieng and Luang Prabang leave. In the northeast of the city there is, perhaps slightly ironically, the southern bus station of the city. Here buses to Thakhek, Pakse and Savannakhet depart mainly.
Train: The only railway in Laos is located 20 kilometers southeast of Vientiane on the Thai border. From Thanaleng Railway Station at the Laotian border, the train leaves over the Friendship Bridge to Nong Khai and then continues towards Bangkok. Work is currently underway to build a track from Kunming to Singapore across Laos.
And is your opinion about Vientiane, Laos? If you have any more tips and ideas, feel free to leave a message below.