Vientiane was our final stop in Laos and, although it’s the country’s capital, there wasn’t an awful lot to do here. We left Vang Vieng at around 2pm on 9th May 2018 and got into Vientiane four hours later at around 6pm. We were staying in a private room in Ali Backpackers which was cheaper than the majority of the dorms we had found and was right next to the Mekong River. The main attraction along the river front is the Vientiane Night Market which has been primarily set up for tourists but, in my opinion, is used by everyone. Just before sunset the street vendors start setting up their stalls in lines along the promenade which we could see happening from our hostel and by the time we went out that evening the riverfront was heaving with people and stalls selling shoes, clothes, electronics and food. As well as the area where stalls are set up and taken down each day, there is also a more established section of the night market that’s made up of wooden storage containers that are permanently there and have more shops and food stands in them. As if it needed to be any bigger, the road that runs alongside the promenade also closes to traffic and have carts and seating running along. Despite the masses of market to explore, vegetarian food wasn’t too easy to find and so I got my meal at a local restaurant. Niall, however, got to enjoy a chicken wrap both nights we were in Vientiane so if you eat meat you’d be fine (story of my life really).The next morning we got up for breakfast and then headed out to see the sights of Vientiane. Although I said there wasn’t much to do there was still enough to fill the day and we had a good, albeit hot day walking around the city.
This was a peaceful temple that had many monks having breakfast whilst we visited which was cool to see.That Dam
That Dam means ‘black stupa’ and the stupa stands between a few roads in the city. Legend has it that the stupa is inhabited by a seven-headed naga snake who tried to protect the city from the invasion of the Siamese army in 1827.Wat Sisaket
This temple was built in 1818 and is one of the oldest temples in the city. It was designed to be more like the Thai style of temple over the traditional style of temples in Laos and it’s speculated that this is what saved it from being destroyed during the Siamese invasion. Instead of destroying the temple like they did to many others, they used Wat Sisaket as lodgings.Patuxai
Patuxai translates to mean ‘Victory Gate’ or ‘Gate of Triumph’ and is a war monument in the city that has a close resemblance to the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. Although the shape is similar to that of Paris, the designs are very Laotian and the rooftop, which you can pay to climb (3,000 kip/30p) has golden stupas on top of it. The views from the top are nice over the city and the park that surrounds it and it gave us a nice breeze which was welcome in the afternoon heat.Pha That Luang Temple
This translates to mean ‘Great Stupa’ and is a gold covered stupa in the heart of the city. It’s amongst an area that has a number of grand buildings and temples which is pretty cool. It is thought that some form of this stupa began to be built in the 3rd Century although many alterations and reconstructions have occurred since then.Reclining Buddha
Very near to Pha That Luang is the reclining buddha which is set in a small park-like area.Wat Si Muang
Built in 1563, this temple was built on the ruins of a Khmer Empire Hindu shrine. There is a legend that pregnant women were given as sacrifices to the God’s during its construction but I guess we’ll just have to hope that isn’t true!City Pillar Shrine
We just happened to stumble across this shrine but we are glad we did as it’s very impressive. Completed in 2012, the shrine is built on the spot where 473 stone city pillar fragments were found that date back to the 4th and 5th Century. The stone fragments were amongst other artefacts from the same era and the building commemorates all of these discoveries.Inpeng Temple
This is a temple that was originally built in the 16th Century but has been rebuilt many times after being destroyed when the Siamese (now Thailand) invaded and destroyed most of the city. The temple is quite a big complex and is guarded by seven headed, green Naga snakes at the entrance.A lot of people don’t bother coming to Vientiane at all which I can kind of understand as there isn’t loads to do but at the same time, it’s the country’s capital and there are still some things to see so why skip it? We were flying out from Vientiane which was another reason why we ended our trip here and gave the city a chance but even if we hadn’t been, being only four hours away from Vang Vieng we would have probably still stopped here. I liked what we did there but I’m glad we only had the two nights as it meant we didn’t get bored. There were a couple more things we didn’t do, primarily a park that is full of Buddha statues but this was further out of the city and a bit of an effort to reach so we gave it a miss.Laos had been great. We had been pleasantly surprised by the amount of greenery around the country and the scenery everywhere was stunning. The country is a lot less developed than the likes of Thailand and Vietnam but it’s still got decent WiFi (although not good enough to upload my blog posts) and the hostels we stayed in were all good. We enjoyed the food, being near the Mekong River and it’s somewhere I’ve already recommended for others to visit. We only hit the main tourist triangle and there are a few more obscure stops that could be added to an itinerary here so maybe we’ll be back one day to do those.
Sending love x