This riverside city is the gateway to incredibly beautiful Laos. Top things to do in Vientiane include visiting the Buddhist Temples, the Palace, the Patuxai Gate and watch a red Sunset on the Mekong River.
Following our wonderful stay on the Vietnamese Island of Phu Quoc, we made our way, via Bangkok, to Vientiane, Laos. Our Visa on Arrival was a painless process. Upon arrival, everyone is handed immigration papers to fill out. Be sure to have the proper amount US$ dollars on hand to pay the visa fees and a passport photo. The procedure was very friendly and fast. Costs: Canada $42, Germany $30. We did not have enough US$ dollars along, but they accepted our Thai baht without complaint.
Still in the terminal, we found an ATM machine for cash and purchased data SIM cards for our phones: 60,000 kip with top up card.
Next, we went to the taxi stand to get a ticket for transportation. As we reached the front of the line, we were informed by an unfriendly character that there are “No more taxi”! Easy, we did the short ?walk out the terminal to the main street where we flagged down a tuk tuk for 40000 kip to our hotel. This was awesome luck, as the taxi stand had charged everyone US$7 to town center!
Our Hotel, RD Guest House was a dump; steep stairs led up to our room with stained walls, filthy mirror, dirty black broken air conditioner and a toilet that flushes with a bucket of water (you fill a mouldy container). At least the sheets were clean, as was the mattress underneath them clean. We had a fan in our room, but no soap or shampoo. Bonus, it was very quiet. Due to a mosquito infestation, we bought spray, fumigated and went for a drink while it worked its magic. This is possibly the dirtiest hotel I have ever stayed in! ? Cost US$17 per night.
The locals seem to be unfriendly; we tried to book a tour at one place, but the lady started talking with a local man in the middle of our booking and she walked away, so we left. This became something we observed often, if they do not understand, they just walk away.?
For lunch we went to a restaurant called Aria Italian. They advertise with 2 for 1 stone oven pizza or 2 for 1 pasta. We ordered a large Super Vegetariana pizza and a large Prosciutto Funghi pizza. Also on offer was 3 beer for the price of one, so we shared some beers as well. Cost: 123,000 kip! HOT SPOT!!!! Worth every penny; delicious pizza and cold beer!
Chao Anouvong Park is a park along the Mekong River with coliseum style seating facing the river where one can observe the incredible sunsets. Music blares throughout the area with different levels of aerobic classes (mostly locals participating, but feel free to jump in!), ice cream vendors and people strolling complete the relaxed atmosphere.
As the sun is setting, vendors are busy setting up their stalls in the park for the Night market on the River. Our experience wasn’t great; we tried several times to buy shoes for my husband – EVERY vendor was rude. In retrospect, we would try harder next time. ?
While strolling around town, we came across a very inviting looking Khop Chai Deu Restaurant. Happy is good, so we went in and asked what was on offer for their advertised happy hour. Confusion broke out., but eventually, with lots of patience and smiling we managed to order a beer and the one and only cocktail of the day for happy hour.
Eventually, after enjoying several cocktails, the bill came and they told us no happy hour for the type of drink we consumed. ? This did not end well; we were not happy with this very awkward, embarrassing situation. We paid the happy hour total of 80,000 kip and walked out.
On our way to find a breakfast spot the next day, we came by the gold and red Chanthaboury Temple. It looked spectacular against the blue sky, surrounded by palm trees. ?Ladies, remember to always have a wrap along to cover shoulders and / or knees so you can enter the temples!
At the Pricco Cafe Bakery Sandwichery, we grabbed a table outside and ordered a Tartine Ham & Cheese baguette for 30,000 kips, an Iced Latte 21,000, Cordon Bleu with fries 45,000 and a Passion fruit juice 25,000. This place was a piece of civilization amongst mosquito infested dirt ? and the food was delicious, albeit expensive!
Some sights we saw on our morning walk included the Presidential Palace,
the Wat Si Saket Museum and temple with a 10,000 kip entry fee (I went in alone),
and the Ho Phra Keo Temple with a 10,000 kip entry fee.
Feeling adventurous, we decided to take the Bus to Buddha Park (complete how to guide). After a lot of wrong informations and almost giving up, we finally figured it out and arrived safe and sound for a great price. Entrance to the Buddha Park was free.
We spent around 1.5 hours in the park, also known as Xieng Khuan. It is an eclectic mix of Buddhism and Hinduism. Don’t forget your camera. ?Tip: take a lunch and have a picnic! There are a few stores where you can purchase souvenirs and a restaurant as well.
To get back, catch the bus on the opposite side of the road. The last bus is at 4:45pm. (as of this date)
For those interested or crossing from Thailand to Laos, the bus passes through the border area of the Peace Bridge. Tip: if you are crossing from or to Thailand, you can purchase phone cards here, do a Visa on arrival, and replenish at one of many food booths AND you can take this bus #14 to Vientiane city (best price – it is parked across from the Haven Duty Free)! Bus leaves border when it is full.
This time, a money collector came through and collected the bus fare money. (6,000 kip). ?Note: Make sure they do not rip you off; either have the exact amount or make sure you get your proper change back!
Our Tuk tuk from the bus station to Pha That Luang Temple, the great golden Stupa, cost 20,000 kip, too much, but we knew our time was running out. The Wat Thatluang Temple, in the same area is equally impressive.
Our Tuk tuk to the hotel also cost 20,000 kip, this time a fair price. On the way we stopped by the impressive Patuxai Gate.
After dinner, we sipped on Passionfruit Shakes with vodka at RD Guesthouse and chatted with other travellers, getting tips and laughs? for free. Cocktails 15,000 each ?.
The next day Bus ticket to Vang Vieng was 45,000 kip per person. See you there!
NEXT Stop: Vang Vieng, Laos
Costs for 2 persons, 2 nights:
Lodging: €32.14 for 2 nights or €16 per night
Entry fees: €3.49
Total cost per day for 2 persons: €60.90
Visas: German €28.36 / Canadian €39.72 ?
Sim Card: €7 each (data)
Bus ticket to Vang Vieng: €5.24 each
Examples of prices:
Iced coffees 22,000 each
Super Vegetariana 83,000 kip for 2 (Aria)
Prosciutto Funghi 76,000 kip for 2 (Aria)
Iced coffee 15,000 each At Tee Cafe, a balcony restaurant
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