As far as capital cities go, Vientiane has got to be one of the most laid-back. Mitch and I spent four days here sightseeing very slowly and had an incredibly relaxed time. We saw a few temples, walked along the riverside promenade, tried some delicious pastries, and found amazing Vietnamese food. I also spent a day at the Houey Hong Women’s Vocational Center learning about and trying my own hand at weaving on a traditional loom. I write more about it here.
The main tourist areas of Vientiane are confined to a maybe twelve block area (smaller than Chiang Mai) on the banks of the Mekong River, making it easy and pleasant to walk around. As with Luang Prabang, the city is infused with a lot of French influence from the French colonial period of Laos. While the buildings aren’t quite as charming as Luang Prabang’s, the pastries and French inspired food more than make up for it.
On our last day in Vientiane, Mitch and I were both a bit tired from getting over colds, so we only briefly visited Patuxay (or the Victory Gate of Vientiane) and Pha That Luang, a golden stupa that has been destroyed during turbulent times in Lao history but has been rebuilt each time. Pha That Luang is a symbol of Lao nationalism, and you can find it on Lao kip bills.
We didn’t spend a ton of time in Vientiane — just about four days — but it was plenty for us to experience what we wanted on our first trip there.
Next stop: we decide to escape city life by living in a river hut!