Unlike any other Southeast Asian city, Vientiane is surprisingly quiet, relaxed and very stylish. Characterised by broad, leafy boulevards and a lovely riverside promenade fringed with restaurants, the town has kind of romantic atmosphere. The town certainly doesn`t boast entertainment and purpose-built attractions. But it is exactly the reason why the Lao capital is more authentic than any other city in the former French Indochina.
THE CITY CHARACTER
Laos, once a part of the French Indochina, was marked by the European heritage and strong French influence throughout the country is undeniable. Vientiane is not an exception, of course. The streets are lined with colonial buildings, cosy cafes and lovely restaurants, French schools and historic villas.
One would often bump into French people, both tourists and residents. On the other hand, Vientiane still represents the Laotian culture that is definitely not insignificant; the city is dotted Buddhist temples, pagodas and stupas, street markets and noodle shops.
The town centre is conveniently compact and it can easily be explored on foot which makes it very attractive to the independent travellers and tourist who do not like organised holidays. There is no need to take any sightseeing tour when you visit Vientiane. No one will get lost.
WANDER around the city centre on foot with the camera. There are great opportunities for taking nice pictures in Vientiane. Lanes are relatively empty but full of surprises. A self-guided city tour will give you a chance to explore the main sights at your own pace and see the backstreets of Vientiane that can be very authentic.
HAVE your breakfast in one of the city`s French bakeries or cafes. A freshly baked croissant, made according to an old French recipe will surely make your morning!
VISIT the impressive French Beaux Art-style building of the Presidential Palace and nearby built Haw Pha Kaew – once the King`s personal Buddhist temple. Several museums can be visited on a rainy day in order to learn more about the Lao history and culture.
WALK on the Lane Xang Avenue designed on French Champs Elysee and the Arc of Victory Patouxai, looking like the Paris` Arc de Triumph. The view of Vientiane from the top of the arc is spectacular!
POP into the sacred site of the splendid Wat Sisaket – the oldest temple in Vientiane. Don`t skip the national symbol – the gold-covered Buddhist stupa of Pha That Luang from the 3d century and the black stupa of That Dam is also worth a visit.
FEEL the placid vibe of evening Vientiane and enjoy Lao beer at one of the restaurants along the riverside promenade. Enjoy the wonderful sunset over the Mekong River.
SEARCH around the vibrant, open-air night markets of Vientiane. Hunt for some souvenirs and try some of the local street snacks!
CATCH A BUS from the main bus station to get to the famous Buddha Park – Laos`s quirkiest attraction. You will find here a collection of huge concrete religious sculptures. The most engaging one is probably the enormous, 40-metre long reclining Buddha.
Vientiane can be explored in 2-3 days as it is a quite small town.
It becomes a bit cooler between November and March which seems to be the best time to visit the capital of Laos – Vientiane
If you are looking for hustle and bustle, fun and nightlife, you might get disappointed. Vientiane is not exactly a party town. You should head up north, to Vang Vieng instead.
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