Vientiane is home to French colonial buildings juxtaposed against Buddhist stupas and temples. It sprawls along the banks of the mighty Mekong River, offering a laid-back atmosphere and enticing street food scene.
Things to do in Vientiane
Delve into Laotian history at the Lao National Museum, which features Bronze Age tools and ancient artefacts from the Plain of Jars. Learn about life in the 18th-century Laotian Kingdom and discover the revolutionary struggle of the Lao people against Siamese, French and American occupation.
The most important monument in Vientiane is the gold-covered Buddhist stupa of Pha That Luang, constructed by King Setthathirat in 1566. Photograph its grand architecture, which has become a symbol of Lao nationalism. The three levels symbolise the ascent from the underworld to the Kingdom of Heaven.
Visit the nearby sculptural site of Xieng Khuan (“Buddha Park”), which features more than 200 religious statues. In addition to a 40-metre-high reclining Buddha, there are impressive sculptures of Hindu gods, demons and mythical animals.
Experience Wat Si Saket, one of the oldest and most atmospheric temples in Vientiane. Arrive early to watch as devotees bring alms to the resident monks, then wander through the magnificent cloister hall, which features thousands of tiny Buddha images.
Getting around Vientiane
Wattay International Airport is 15 minutes’ drive from the city centre. Buses and tuk-tuks are the main means of getting around Vientiane, but it’s also pleasant to explore on foot.