Its name may sound a little French, and there’s a distinctly Gallic flair to Laos ‘ capital city. Located on the Mekong River, Vientiane is one of the quietest capitals in Southeast Asia, so a trip to the ‘City of Sandalwood’ is quite a gentile affair. The French influence is around every corner, with tree-lined streets, wide boulevards and quaint cafes where you can sit and watch the city’s residents go about their day.
No trip here is complete without visiting the temples and religious buildings. Start at the city’s oldest temple, Wat Si Saket, before moving onto Wat Si Muang. At sunset, the beautiful gold building of That Luang glows in the light. This is the most important religious building in Laos, although it’s a reconstruction that was built in the 1930s. The original was thought to have been built in the mid-16th century, on an ancient Khmer site.
When you’ve had your fill of the tourist trail, why not spend a sunny afternoon sitting outside a cafe with a beerlao (local beer) and people watch? You’ll see locals, travellers and even monks going about their business.
If you fancy getting out of the city, we think one of the best places to head is Ang Nam Ngum Reservoir. This is a natural wonderland located to the north of Vientiane and you can get back to nature here, and be as active as you like! There are plenty of hiking routes and spaces for camping, or you can take a relaxing boat trip.
Another great destination for outdoors pursuits is Vang Vieng, which is a little further away. This is a popular adventure sports spot where you can go caving, climbing or kayaking as well as explore the many hiking trails. For some great photo opportunities, we recommend taking a day trip to Xieng Khuan (Buddha Park). This huge concrete park is home to over 200 Hindu and Buddhist statues, including a giant reclining Buddha!
We love that Vientiane has everything you’d expect to find in a capital city yet retains its small-town charm and hospitality. A trip here is a great choice if you’re tired of the hustle and bustle of the region’s busiest cities – you’ll miss this city more than you expected when you finally leave!
Plan your trip to Vientiane today.