36 Hours in Vientiane

36 Hours in Vientiane

One of the temples at Wat That Luang

The “City of Sandalwood” is the capital and largest city of Laos.  Vientiane sits along the shores of the Mekong and has been offering beautiful sunsets since it became the capital in 1563 due to fears of a Burmese invasion. During French rule, Vientiane was the administrative capital and due to economic growth in recent times, it has become the economic center of Laos.  However it is not the highlight of the country, rather a nice stop on your way south before you get away from civilization completely in 4,000 Islands.  You may not need 36 hours to see everything this city has to offer, but the extra time will allow you to get your fill of Western comforts and enjoy this laid back city.


5:45 p.m.

The place to be in Vientiane is down by the river that’s where everyone gathers in the evening to catch up.  There are people out doing Tai Chi, monks chatting, lovers walking and people running.  You don’t want to miss one of the fiery sunsets into the river so get there early to find the best spot.

7:30 p.m.

This large market that sets up every night along Khoun Boulom Road is geared towards visitors with colorful stalls filled with handicrafts and art.  As you browse the merchandise grab a beer or a bite to eat too.


9 a.m.

Rent a bicycle at one of the many places in the city and make a day of seeing the sites.  Start with a long ride down Lane Xang Road to That Luang, the 45 meter gold stupa is the Lao national symbol and one of the country’s most important sites.

The golden stupa of Wat That Luang

Next head back the way you came and stop at Victory Gate, which was built in memory of those that died in the Lao struggle for independence.  The top affords those interested a 360 degree panoramic view of the small Lao capital.

Your next stop is Chua Phat Tich, which is a multi-tiered temple that has a large golden Buddha at the top and affords great views of the city if you are so inclined to make the climb.

The temple of Chua Phat Tich, with Chua in the name we had to visit

Then head back into the heart of the city to Ho Phra Keo, Vientiane’s oldest temple that houses Buddhist sculptures and artifacts.

Right across the street is Wat Sisaket, which boasts over 10,000 Buddha images.  The sanctuary is lined with Buddhas and the walls are festooned with elaborate murals.

Just a few of the 10,000 Buddhas at Wat Sisaket

Your final stop should be to That Dam (Black Stupa) right in the heart of the city.  According to legend, a seven-headed dragon lay under this stupa to protect Vientiane from Siamese invaders in 1828.

5:30 p.m.

Get to Makphet in time for happy hour and have one of their delectable martinis with exotic fruits that are half price from 5:30-7:00 pm.  Make sure you stay around for dinner too.  You can feel good about enjoying a dinner that supports Friends International a non-profit group helping train street kids in the hospitality business.  It’s also a great place to pick up souvenirs.  Makphet restaurant in  is open Monday to Saturday from 11 am – 2 pm and 6 pm – 9 pm, happy hour is from 5:30 to 7:30 pm when cocktails are half price, no happy hour specials on food or other drinks.  Dishes range in price from $3-$8.


10 a.m.

You can relax and enjoy today knowing that you have seen everything that Vientiane has to offer.  It may be Laos’ capital, but other than business it isn’t the center of the country, in fact many tourists skip this city on their Laos itineraries.  A great place to relax is the large gardens surrounding the Victory Monument.

The beautiful park by Victory Gate that is enjoyed by visitors and locals


Before you leave town you have to give hungry burger a try, as un-Lao as it may seem this delicious little street side burger stall is a delicious and cheap meal that really shouldn’t be missed.

This little street stall selling cheap burgers was a favorite of thinkCHUA


Large and affordable rooms with a shared balcony are available at Mixok Hostel (Th setthathirat, City centre,Vientiane, Laos- telephone 856 21 251606)

Don’t plan a long stay as there isn’t a huge amount of things to do, most attractions can be seen in just one day via bike.

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» Mom A :
Apr 17, 2011

Although I am the one who can eat most everything, I have to say there is something about a recognizable hamburger when traveling abroad that makes you feel certain that you will survive when you are hungry and tired!

LOCAVORista Reply:

Mom, maybe you have more in common with my husband then you ever realized. Your comment sounds like something that could come out of his mouth.

» dad :
Apr 19, 2011

great trip highlites as always…….must be getting very hard to keep your temples and wats all straight……s.e asia is a great part of the world to explore indeed……always amazes me how it has been defined as the world of the “smilers” and they do, all that on 2 bucks a day……certainly helps keep our”western materialism” in perspective……be safe…..love you dad

LOCAVORista Reply:

Dad, It is very hard to keep temples and wats straight. In fact we have undertaken the task of labeling all of our photos so that we don’t forget in the future (we should have been doing this all along) and it has proven to be very time consuming.

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About the Author

LOCAVORista: A curious adventurer exploring the culinary delights and local traditions around the world. Currently on a 3 year round-the-world trip discovering amazing cultures, must-eats and off-the-beaten-track destinations.

About the Author
LOCAVORista: A curious adventurer exploring the culinary delights and local traditions around the world. Currently on a 3 year round-the-world trip discovering amazing cultures, must-eats and off-the-beaten-track destinations.


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