Vientiane Travel Guide

I. Introduction

Being the capital and largest city of Laos, Vientiane lies on the banks of the Mekong River near the border with Thailand. Praised as the most relaxed capital city in Southeast Asia, Vientiane is well-known for its French colonial architecture and impressive religious buildings. Even during rush hour, you still can experience life at a leisurely speed in Vientiane! Without the hustle, noise, and bustle, any visitor to Vientiane also feels that Vientiane is a place with a slow pace of life with a different peace, a sense of closeness. In this city, things are not crowded and cramped, only peace and relaxation exist, no mixing and jostling each other so everyone feels full of happiness.
Vientiane does not have a magnificent beauty, but it has a gentle and discreet beauty of a village girl with a secret charm that needs to be discovered. In Vientiane, there are no major commercial centers, modern entertainment areas, bustling market streets, but there are ancient temples with hundreds of years of history.
In the center of Vientiane, there are hundreds of large and small temples, some of them are very popular such as Vat Ho Pra Candy, That Luong, Ong Tu pagoda... The temples represent a culture. That is also the place where the people here put their faith in heavenly devotion that will touch all sentient beings, dispel all suffering in life.

II. Best time to visit Vientiane

With the fun and interesting traveling experience in Vientiane, Laos, the dry season, that is from December to April is the best time to make a trip to Vientiane because the weather here is sunny with an average temperature of about 15 - 30 degrees Celsius that is perfect for sightseeing. You can also travel to Vientiane on April 13, 14, and 15 to have a great chance to participate in the water festival here.
If you do not like rain, you can consider visiting Vientiane during these months from May to November as this time is the rainy season.
III. Things to see and do

1. Patuxay – The Victory Monument
Patuxai, known as Victory Gate, is an important war monument of Vientiane, the capital of Laos. It is also considered the symbol of the city and a famous destination you should never miss on your trip to Vientiane. This monument was designed with a giant concrete arch modeled on the style of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris by Mr. Tham Sayasthsena, a Laotian architect. It has 4 gateways on 4 sides oriented towards 4 directions, includes 5 towers that represent the five Buddhist principles. Patuxai also has a 7-story structure that is connected by an internal spiral staircase. Although modeling on the style of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, you will find the characteristic features of Lao culture on the reliefs, decorative motifs and sculptures on walls, ceilings such as Kinari (half woman and half-bird figures), Nagas (dragons), and lotus leave.
Especially, at sunrise or sunset, you can climb a stairway to the tower’s observation deck which offers panoramic views of Vientiane city, what an amazing experience!

2. Xieng Khuan – The Buddha park
Buddha's Garden is a sculpture park that is 25 km southeast of Vientiane, Laos. Although this is not a temple, the park has many images that are directly related to religion, with the meaning of being "Soul City". This Buddha Garden has over 200 Hindu and Buddhist statues, which is considered a sightseeing site for tourists and a public park.
Highlights of Buddha Park is a unique combination of Hinduism and Buddhism in a sculpture garden housing over 200 statues in different sizes from small to large. In which the most spectacular sculpture is a giant pumpkin with three floors, which is a representation of Hell, Earth, and Heaven. There is a staircase inside this pumpkin that leads to the platform on the top, from where you will surely appropriate a great view of the Buddha park and take your very nice shots. Another attraction is the statue of Buddha lying leisurely in the Centre of the park, 40m in length. With the enormous size and interesting details, motifs, Buddha Park attracts many tourists to visit every year.


3. Pha That Luang – the symbol of Laos
Situated in the downtown of Vientiane, Pha That Luang - Great Sacred Stupa is an enormous gold-covered Buddhist Stupa. Great Sacred Stupa is regarded as the most significant monument and a site that cannot miss when visiting the Vientiane capital.
Constructed in the 16th century (built 1566, reconstructed 1930) – was originally built as a Hindu temple in the 3rd century. Great Sacred Stupa is known to be a national symbol of the country and a religious symbol of Laotian Buddhism.

4. Phra Keo Pagoda
Another famous temple in Vientiane is Phra Keo Pagoda which was built on a high stone foundation, running along the stairs are two stone dragons that were finely carved into every small detail. Inside the temple there are Buddha statues made of different materials such as terracotta, stone, copper ... each one has a different nuance, expression, and shape. Many statues are inlaid with gold in some positions like head, abdomen, arms, chest...that are meant to protect Laotians to have a happy and full life.

5. Vientiane night market
Vientiane Night Market (open every day) set on the bank of Mekong River is one of the sites that you should not miss whenever put your feet on Vientiene. Tourists can buy various kinds of souvenirs, clothes, and handicrafts in this market, but do not forget to bargain as the first prices are always extravagant. However, this market does not have street food then in case you would like to try some specialties of Vientiane, let go on the opposite side of the market where many restaurants and shops are located.

6. Talat Sao early morning market
Talat Sao is the Vientiane market that attracts a lot of foreign tourists to visit and shop every time they come to the capital Vientiane. Opening hours from 7 am to 4 pm, this place sells a variety of household goods, essentials, and food-bearing the Laotian cultural identity, visitors will easily choose interesting items to make souvenirs for their loved ones.

IV. How to get there

The traffic and transportation in a capital city like Vientiane are very convenient. You can find any kind of transportation here. Vientiane is also the city for the international transition so you can find almost all the international flights from other countries to Vientiane and vice versa. It is also a transition destination in Southeast Asia if you want to travel to Bangkok, Laos, Viet Nam, and so on…
By plane: You can book a domestic flight from other cities around Laos with Laos airline to get to Vientiane city or other international airlines from foreign cities to Laos such as AirAsia, China Eastern Airlines, Lao Airlines, Thai Airways, and Vietnam Airlines. This is the most convenient way to transfer to Vientiane from a far distance. The airport in Vientiane offers flights to different cities through Southeast Asia and beyond, such as China, South Korea, Japan, and even Australia.
By coach: Every day, there are many trips from other cities to Vientiane by bus/coach at a cheaper price than a plane or train. This is also a common and easy method to transfer among the regions in the country.
How to travel to Vientiane?
It will be very rare to see taxis on the streets of Vientiane. The most used vehicles in Vientiane are tuk-tuks and pickup. These are two types of trucks that are modified and used to carry passengers. Bus schedules are available at the bus stations and you will easily take the journey to the places you want to explore the ancient temples, peaceful life, and meet the friendly Vientiane residents.

V. Specialties of Vientiane
In Vientiane, famous dishes often introduced to foreign tourists are sticky rice dishes, dishes made from fish, and many other attractive grilled dishes. Lao sticky rice is fragrant, flexible, and cooked from a rice variety grown on a highland, with even seeds and beautiful ivory-white color. Lao people often process sticky rice with grilled chicken, boiled vegetables, and a very delicious dipping sauce. One of Vientiane's delicious grilled dishes is Savannakhet grilled chicken. Besides, there are many cultures, festivals, attractions, and very special cuisine of Laos that you will experience when coming to Vientiane.

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