Things To Do In Vientiane, Laos – A Mini Guide

Despite being the capital of Laos, Vientiane doesn’t have much to brag about – most people try not to get stuck here, but for different reasons, many people pass through and stay for a night or two. Fortunately, it’s quite a nice place to find yourself in.

So whether you come by to wait for a visa to process, or just to rest your bum from bumpy bus rides before heading out on the road again, here is a short guide on how to spend that day and things to do in Vientiane.

Things To Do in Vientiane

Pha Tat Luang

things to do in vientianeThe golden temple is Laos most important national symbol, both for Lao authority and Buddhism. It’s a beautiful temple to visit, especially in the afternoon when the sun makes it even more golden.

It’s 4km out of the city (northeast), so you can either walk (!), bike or take a share tuk tuk to get there.

The Park

Once it has cooled down outside, head over to the new fancy park “Chao Anouvong Park” by the riverside and hang out under the shade reading a book or playing cards.

The park is brand new and really nice, they’re just finishing up the final touches.

It’s a very attractive place to chill for a bit, there are some street stalls along the path and ice cream shops on the other side of the street.

If you come in the morning or in the evening when the weather is a little cooler, you can have a try at the work out machines they provide in the park for free.

It’s pretty popular with the locals so on weekends you won’t have the place to yourself, but it’s a great place for people watching ;)

It was one of our favorite things to do in Vientiane when we traveled by.

Shopping

A way to escape the midday heat is to do some shopping in the Talat Sao shopping mall. It’s not the biggest, or the cheapest, but good enough for a bit of shopping and a stroll around the place – besides, if you’ve been out all day it’s a good place to cool down.

Places To Eat

Grab some dinner at Taj Mahal restaurant, they have the best Indian in town and at some really good prices. Definitely worth the walk.

You’ll find it at Namphu area, right behind the cultural hall.

Nazim is another Indian restaurant located by the river, they make nice meals, nothing like Taj Mahal but still a nice place if you want to sit close to the river.

Full Moon Cafe and The Shade are two other restaurants at Francois Nginn Rd for those who want something closer to the central areas.

Another place I just have to mention is the Scandinavian Bakery. Scandinavian pastries and cookies are some of the tastiest things ever, and this place make as good ones as any place in Scandinavia.

In general there are a lot of bakeries around Vientiane, both Lao style and Western style.

Drinking & WiFi

things to do in vientianeIn the evening, hang out at one of the few bars along the riverside, or have a fruit shake or ice coffee at the awesome Aroma Café.

It has some great coffee and shakes, and is one of the few places that offer free high speed WiFi, if you feel a need to get connected.

You’ll find it on Francois Nginn Rd, it’s the cafe of the hotel Lotus.

If you’re as crazy about fruit shakes as us, head over to rue Samsenthai and visit House of Fruit Shakes; the drinks are blended to perfection and only cost 6000 kip (0.7$)!

Sleeping

There aren’t a huge amount of choices if you want to stay close to the riverside, but there are definitely a few worth checking out.

Francois Nginn Rd has quite a few guest houses. I can recommend Youth Inn 2 (further down the street from the original one), which has clean rooms, private bathroom for an ok price (60 000 kip/7$). It’s one of the very few places that has free WiFi, although it’s a slow one.

Hopefully this will help you enjoy all the things to do in Vientiane. If you plan to stay longer, I suggest you do a little cafe run and check out all of the amazing bakeries and coffee shops in the city!

(Photo credit: dalbera – Mat Honan)

14 Responses to Things To Do In Vientiane, Laos – A Mini Guide

  1. CanCan March 16, 2011 at 11:37 am #

    I have lived in VTE since 2003 and feel so lucky that it has a GREAT selection of international restaurants. I’m not sure if this is meant to be a run down of “back packer budget” establishments but there are heaps more amazing restaurants (places like Aria, Cafe de Arts, or La Gondola are fabulous italian places with hand made pasta! Holy awesome!) and definitely no shortage of hotels and guest houses near the Mekong. If you want to try Lao food definitely go to Mak Phet, which is a development project teaching job skills to former street kids.
    PS, The Shade and Full Moon are not on the same road. I’m also not a huge Full Moon fan, but they do have a vast selection of deep fried bar food if that is what you are looking for.
    If you are going to VTE contact me and lets meet at at GOOD restaurant (you pay for yourself ;)

    • Sofia - As We Travel March 16, 2011 at 12:24 pm #

      Hey CanCan,

      nice to get some tips from a local!

      Yes, the guide is made for backpackers on a tight budget, the restaurants mentioned are a good value rather than expensive sensations and ones that we really enjoyed while there.

      Thanks for sharing your tips about some nicer restaurants.

  2. Alicia March 16, 2011 at 4:30 pm #

    These is the second time I’ve read about the Taj Mahal restaurant, must be really good there.

  3. Debbie Beardsley March 16, 2011 at 9:32 pm #

    Sometimes there are jewels hiding in those places ” people try not to get stuck in”! I have found there is always something of interest in every city. Some you just have to dig a little deeper to find!

    Thanks for this post. It was very interesting.

    • Sofia - As We Travel March 18, 2011 at 6:47 am #

      Exactly my mindset too, just dig a little and you will usually find something worth the effort ;)

  4. Andrew | The Unframed World March 16, 2011 at 11:28 pm #

    This is exactly the type of article I love. When I get to my destination I usually only have a weekend or three days max to see and photograph everything I can find. I also have a hard time figuring out what’s worth while and what’s just a tourist trap.

    I’m mentally logging you initial suggestion of bicycling to Pha Tat Luang followed by a relaxing evening at the Aroma Café with their free wifi you mentioned.

    Keep stuff like this coming.

  5. Andrew | The Unframed World March 17, 2011 at 1:28 am #

    This is exactly the type of article I love. When I get to my destination I usually only have a weekend or three days max to see and photograph everything I can find. I also have a hard time figuring out what’s worth while and what’s just a tourist trap.

    I’m mentally logging you initial suggestion of bicycling to Pha Tat Luang followed by a relaxing evening at the Aroma Café with their free wifi you mentioned.

    Keep stuff like this coming.

  6. BeersAndBeans March 18, 2011 at 4:21 am #

    Vientiane seems like a great place to kick back for a couple days. Definitely going to bookmark this for later use. I’d really like to try to do the “little cafe run.” -Randy

  7. Anonymous March 23, 2011 at 6:11 am #

    I truly appreciate The sundown and dawn in the Sahara desert were the most stunning ones I have ever seen.people try not to get stuck in”! I have found there is always something of interest in every city. Some you must dig a tiny deeper to find!

    NYC Restaurants

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