Pha That Luang in Vientiane
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Vientiane Travel Guide


The capital of landlocked Laos, Vientiane is the economic and cultural hub of the country, with over 900 million inhabitants. Unlike the bustling capital cities of most Southeast Asia countries, Vientiane still retains a laid-back town-like feeling, with plenty of colonial architecture and ancient temples kept intactly.

As a quaint little city sitting on the banks of the Mekong River, Vientiane is an ideal destination for walking, cycling, and relaxing. It is the place where you can enjoy slow-paced life, meet easy-going people, watch the stunning Mekong River sunset, enjoy flavorful cuisines at riverside restaurants, and spoil yourself at boutique cafes and small bakeries.

Get inspiration from our Vientiane Travel Guide with ideas on top things to do and see, the best time to visit Vientiane, and how to get to and travel around.

Buddha Park in Vientiane
Impressive statues in Buddha Park

Top Things to Do in Vientiane

1. Check out the Pha That Luang Temple - an Iconic Symbol of Laos

An important Buddhist monument at the center of Vientiane, Pha That Luang stupa is an iconic symbol of Laos, and is said with a breast bone of the Buddha enshrined in it. Being built in the 16th century, the stupa was originally coated with pure golden leaves, and surrounded by many other temples and structures. The current stupa we see today was reconstructed in the 1930s by the French since it was heavily destroyed during foreign invasions in 1827.

Visitors can peacefully walk around here, and meet some artifacts and sculptures from ancient Laos and Khmer. Several structures around the stupa are still well retained, including the statue of King Setthathirat – the founder of the stupa, and two ancient temples with amazing carvings.

Pha That Luang in Vientiane
Pha That Luang

2. See Stunning Sculptures and Carvings at Wat Si Saket

Wat Si Saket is the only temple in Vientiane that survived the Siamese invasion. Dating from the early 18th century, this prettiest temple in Vientiane is now a gathering place of over 6,800 Buddha sculptures. Here you can marvel at many exquisite murals and unique architecture, see the temple layout hundreds of years ago and look into the excellent craftsmanship of Lao artisans.

Wat Sisaket in Vientiane
Roof of Wat Sisaket

3. Soak up Vientiane’s Cafe Culture

Vientiane has a bustling coffee culture, with coffee shops scattered on every corner of its streets. Influenced by the French, the number of hip cafes in Vientiane is still increasing annually. Whether you want to sip a cup of Lao Robusta coffee or try delicious baked treats, or just a quiet place with free wi-fi, it is easy for you to pick one that matches your preference.

Our top recommended cafes in Vientiane include Cafe Sinouk, Terminal 89, Joma Bakery Café VTE, and Benoni Café.

4. Visit the COPE Visitor Center

COPE is a local association that works to help landmine victims. During the Vietnam/American War, over 2 million tons of explosives were dropped on Laos, and there are still many unexploded ordinances (UXO) left in the countryside areas of Laos. Until now, there are still Lao citizens seriously injured. The COPE Visitor Center will offer you a chance to learn about how the UXO threatens the safety of local people, and the work COPE is doing.

5. Get to the Patuxai at Sunset

Patuxai is Laos’ “Arc de Triomphe” which was built between 1957-1968 to commemorate Lao soldiers who died in the independence war from France. Because of the civil wars in Laos, the structure was finally left unfinished. Visitors can spend 3,000 LAK to climb to the top of the Victory Gate to enjoy a stunning vista view of Vientiane and spectacular sunset.

Laos Patuxay monument
Patuxay monument at sunset

6. Stroll around the Night Market on the Banks of the Mekong River

A local market is a good place to look into real local life. On the banks of the mighty Mekong River, there is a night market on the boulevard every 5 PM. You can leisurely walk around, rest and treat your stomach at a local eatery, and pick some local souvenirs.

7. Enjoy Time at Buddha Park (aka Xieng Khuan)

Located about 15 miles away from Vientiane city center, Buddha Park (aka Xieng Khuan) is a sculpture site that boasts over 200 Buddhist and Hindu statues. Though being built in 1958, all the statues here looked very historical and with unconventional designs. The 40-meter-long reclining Buddha is a highlight of the park. There is also an eye-catching demon head with a height of 3 meters.

Entry fee: 15,000 LAK per person

Buddha Park in Vientiane
Patuxay monument at sunset

Vientiane Weather: Best Time to Visit Vientiane

Vientiane is dominated by tropical weather which is divided into the dry season (from November to April) and the wet season (from May to October). The city is warm and hot all year round with the annual temperature ranging from 27°C (81°F) to 32°C (90°F).

November to February is the best time to travel weather-wise in Vientiane when the temperature is comfortable and rainfall is less.

Interesting water-splashing activities will be available on Lao New Year, making it the best time to take part in local celebrations. The water-splashing activities usually take place from April 14th -16th.

Vientiane Transportation: How to Get to and Get Around Vientiane

How to get to Vientiane?

By plane

Most visitors fly into Vientiane through Wattay International Airport (about 3 km west of Vientiane city center), one of the two busiest international airports in Laos.

After the COVID outbreak, the airport currently operates direct international flights to/from Bangkok, Busan, Chiang Mai, Hanoi, Kuala Lumpur, Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, and Singapore.

There are also frequent domestic flights to/from Luang Prabang, Pakse, Huay Xai, Oudomxay, and Xieng Khuang, all operated by the two main carriers in Laos: Lao Airlines, and Lao Skyway.

To get to the city center from the airport, you can take a bus by spending around 15,000 LAK per person. The bus leaves every hour, from 8:20 am to 20:00 pm. You can also take a taxi by spending around 7 USD for a shared ride. A tuk-tuk ride to the city center will cost about 15,000 LAK for a shared ride.

By bus

Vientiane is near the Laos-Thailand border, making it easy and cheaper to travel to the city via Lao-Thai Friendship Bridge by bus. To ride an international bus to Vientiane, you’d better have already held a Lao visa since the visa-on-arrival process may take some time, and the buses usually don’t wait that long.

There are also international buses to Vientiane from Hanoi (taking at least 20 hours), and Phnom Penh (taking about 27 hours).

Bus services to Vientiane from many Lao domestic cities like Luang Prabang Pakse, and Vang Vieng are also available.

How to get around Vientiane?

The most popular ways to get around Vientiane include bike/motorbike rental, taxi, and tuk-tuk.

You can rent a bicycle from your hotel or a rental shop, at a price of about 1.5-3.5 USD per day. And the price for motorbike/scooter rental usually ranges from 8-20 USD per day, depending on the vehicle type and condition. For short-distance transfers within 3 kilometers, you can take a tuk-tuk by spending about 3.5 USD. You can also take a shared Jumbo ride by spending no more than 1.2 USD.

When hailing a taxi, it is advisable to negotiate the price in advance, since most taxis don’t use meters. The estimated price is about 0.5 USD per kilometer, to hire a private car for a full day, the price is about 20-40 USD, depending on the distance.

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