Vientiane is the capital of Laos, a Southeast Asian country neigbouring China, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia and Malaysia. Laos is known for its beautiful, mountainous landscapes and Buddhist monasteries. The country’s turbulent past couldn’t be further from the friendly, social atmosphere of today and Vientiane is the peaceful starting destination for most travellers’ journey through Laos.
- Gorgeous architecture: Laos is draped in history and Vientiane displays this through its mixture of traditional Buddhist temples and monuments. The grand spectacle that is ‘Pha That Luang‘, stuns visitors with its vibrant, gold exterior and dates back from as early as the 3rd century.
- Friendly locals: Laos has only recently recovered from the devastating effects of a civil war that ended back in 1975. Despite being the most bombed country in the world, its people are extremely welcoming, polite and genuinely happy to speak to tourists. You’re never far away from a smiling face in Laos.
- Cheap n’ cheerful: Vientiane, like most capital cities in South East Asia, has plenty of places to eat and drink. Travellers can dine out for an average of £3.50pp and enjoy a national favourite; Beerlao for only £1.
- Not a lot to do: I personally found myself wanting to move on after a couple of days here. Vientiane has beautiful temples, a museum (which highlights the after effects of the war) and Buddha park, an area situated next to the Mekong river and filled with many religious sculptures. Despite these interesting excursions, you can fly through them pretty quickly and I wouldn’t suggest remaining in the capital for too long.
- Not ideal for young travellers: If you’re looking for an 18-30’s party scene, then you’re best heading straight to Vang Vieng or Luang Prabang. Vientiane is for people more interested in the culture and history of the country.
Toot or Boot?
This totally depends on how much time you’ve got. I’d say that Vientiane is an important place to visit if you’re seeking information about Laos’ backstory or browsing the local architecture. However, if you’re strapped for time and looking for more of a buzz, you’re best to boot it.