Cool Things To Do In Vientiane, Laos

The Best Vientiane Things To Do

Welcome to my travel post covering the best Vientiane things to do. But first, please enjoy this brief introduction to the beautiful city of Vientiane Laos.

Vientiane city has been the capital of Laos since 1563. The city has endured many trials and tribulations including 20th century invasions by the Japanese, French and Americans. Although Laos is now under communist control, Vientiane remains as the capital city.

In modern times, Laos has made economic progress and its population has grown to 760,000. Signs of economic progress include Vientiane attractions such as SE Asian Games in 2009, ASEAN conference in 2016 and also the annual Lao Music Awards.

Day Trips from Vientane

Buddha Park day trips from Vientiane Laos

Best Vientiane Things to Do

Vientiane things to do includes visits to the the city’s monuments commemorating their long Buddhist history.  Additionally, there are many reminders of french colonialism and the resulting struggle for independence that occurred here.

Day trips from Vientiane include visits to the Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge and the famous Vientiane Buddha Park. Additionally, there are many fine places to eat in Vientiane city featuring Lao cuisine and coffee.

Follow along and I will introduce you to all you need to know about these Vientiane tours and activities.

Patuxai Gate Vientiane Things To Do

Vientiane Laos served as the administrative center for the French colonialists from 1893 until Laos gained independence in 1953.

Patuxai gate Vientiane Things to do

Spiral stairway inside of Patuxai Gate.

To commemorate the struggle for independence against French occupation, the Patuxai Gate was completed in 1968. Although the gate was never completely finished, it remains as a prominent landmark and monument in Vientiane.

Patuxai Gate is certainly the most prominent French architectural relic on my Vientiane things to do  list. The Patuxai Gate is literally the gateway to the city.

Additionally, the architectural framework is decorated with Laotian design and the inclusion of mythological creatures. 

Patuxai gate Vientiane Things to do

Photo of the Patuxai Gate celebrating Laotian independence from French rule.

Vientiane Things to do Kinnari

Kinnari Bird

Patuxai Gate features four gateways each facing one of the four cardinal directions. The four gateways are in the form of arches with sculptures and paintings featured at each entrance.

Although Buddhism has long been the national religion of Laos, many of the Laotian designs at Patuxai Gate are of Hindu origin.

Vientiane Things to do Kinnaris

Kinnari Bird

Inside of the archways is where visitors can find some examples of the Laotian art. For example, the kinnari bird is a mythical half bird, half human creature that comes from the Himalayas to offer protection in times of danger.

However, this mythical creature is of Hindu origin, not Buddhism. The kinnari is a combination of the tail and feet of a swan with the upper torso of a human woman. Additionally, they live in a state of constant pleasure by perpetually dancing, singing and reciting poetry. 

Vientiane things to do

Viewed on the ceiling in the interior of Patuxai Gate, see the Hindu Trinity from left Vishnu, Brahma and Indra.

Patuxai gate view of Vientiane

View over Vientiane city from the top of Patuxai Gate.

Best Lao Coffee in Vientiane Things to Do

Vientiane Laos Things to Do

World’s Best coffee Bolaven Plateau, Laos

In Vientiane Laos it is possible to get the best local coffee in the world. Additionally, it doesn’t really matter which cafe you visit because they all stock local Lao coffee.

Fortunately, there are many snug little cafes near the Patuxai Gate. Since Patuxai Gate is already located in the Vientiane city center, simply walk along Lane Xang Avenue into the city and you will find many cafes serving their local specialty.

The local Lao coffee is so good that I began to purchase the roasted coffee beans in bulk. Additionally, I bought a French press and coffee grinder which I traveled with for many months.

Lao Coffee Vientiane things to do

That is me enjoying my second cup of Lao coffee. There is an excellent local cafe on Lane Xang Avenue Vientiane things to do.

Wat Si Muang Vientiane Things To Do

Wat Si Muang is a Buddhist temple that was built on the remains of a Khmer Hindu shrine in 1563. Additionally, the remains of the Khmer shrine can still be viewed behind the ordination hall. It is possible for visitors to enter the Buddhist shrine at the location of Wat Si Muang.

Although tourists are welcome here, taking photos inside the shrine is not recommended. This because it is an important religious site and it is considered poor travel etiquette.

Wat Si Muang Vientiane Things to do

Famous stupa located at Wat Si Muang.

wat si muang Vientiane Laos

King Mucalinda protects the Buddha during meditation. This sculpture of the Naga king is most popular throughout Laos.

Wat Si Muang Vientiane Things to do

Collection of Buddha statues seen at Wat Si Muang

Mekong River Vientiane Things To Do

Thai Lao Friendship Bridge Day Trips from Vientiane Things to do

Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge Day Trips from Vientiane

Visit the iconic Mekong River in Vientiane Laos. Viewing the Mekong River combined with the Buddha park are good day trips from Vientiane. 

Additionally, you can visit the Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge and have lunch riverside. The bridge is easily seen in route to the Vientiane Buddha park.

However, there is also a Mekong River promenade located in Vientiane city. Additionally, it is the location of a good night market and places to eat in Vientiane.

The riverside night market is a good option to escape the hot and humid Vientiane Laos weather.

Vientiane Things to do

Visit the promenade on the banks of the Mekong River. In addition, there is also a nice display of Lao flags and a night market in the evening.

Mekong Riverside Lunch Day Trips from Vientiane

Enjoy lunch on the Mekong River during day trips from Vientiane.

Pha That Luang Vientiane Things To Do

Pha That Luang is a gold plated Buddhist stupa that is built on the location of a 3rd century Hindu Temple. This Vientiane attraction is renown for receiving Buddhist missionaries who were believed to be carrying the breastbone of the Buddha.

This ancient Buddhist relic is believed to be stored on the premises. Additionally, there are other monuments commemorating the Buddha on the site of Pha That Luang.

Pha That Luang Vientiane Things to do

Sculptures of Naga Deities at Pha That Luang.

The gold plating of Pha That Luang seems new due to the fact that the stupa has been renovated several times since the 1930’s. Additionally, the stupa itself consists of 3 levels and each is supposed to represent parts of the Buddhist doctrine.

From the ground to the pinnacle, the stupa is approximately 44 meters high. Pha That Luang is considered to be a symbol of Lao nationalism and it is a most popular Vientiane points of interest.

Pha That Luang Vientiane Things to Do

Photo of the Pha That Luang gold plated stupa in Vientiane Things to do.

Pha That Luang Buddha Vientiane Things to do

Giant reclining Buddha statue located adjacent to Pha That Luang.

Statue of the Sethathirath King at Pha That Luang in Vientiane Laos

Monument commemorating the Sethathirath King who was responsible for the construction of Pha That Luang.

Local Markets Vientiane Things To Do

Local wet markets can be found along Lane Xang Avenue in Vientiane city center. Although they are open all day, the best time to visit the markets is in the evening. The local markets were basically our favorite places to eat in Vientiane.

There is an abundance of local fruit available such as bananas, pomelo, mangosteen and dragon fruit. However, there is also tangerines, apples and other conventional things to eat.

Local Markets Vientiane Things to do

Visit the best roadside local markets in Vientiane city center.

Places to eat in Vientiane

Additional places to eat in Vientiane include local barbecue stands. Mostly chicken and sausages.

Tuktuk Ride Vientiane Things To Do

TukTuk Vientiane Things to do

Tuktuk in Vientiane Things To Do

The tuktuk is a unique form of transport throughout SE Asia. Tuktuk rides are readily available within the Vientiane city center. As a result, they provide quick and inexpensive transport to local Vientiane attractions.

Unfortunately, this novel Vientiane things to do may be facing extinction because of Uber and other online ride hailing options. Therefore, Vientiane visitors should enjoy it while it is still available. 

We opted for renting a motorbike from our Vientiane hotels because it was more practical for day trips outside Vientiane. However, a tuktuk ride is definitely best things to do with kids in Vientiane.

tuttuk vientiane laos

Take a tuktuk ride through the Vientiane city, although we rented a motorbike after the first day.

Music Awards Vientiane Things To Do

Beginning in 2008, the Laos music awards were held annually in Vientiane city. Therefore, if you are in town be sure to check it out. The music is a cross between pop music and traditional music and it is a good Lao cultural immersion for visitors.

Laos Music Awards Vientiane Things to do

Don’t miss the annual Laos music awards Vientiane things to do.

Best Vientiane Laos Hotels & Restaurants

Vientiane Hotels Restaurant

Excellent countryside view from the hotel restaurant

Vientiane Hotels feature an abundance of options for all levels of traveler. There are French style boutiques, condos and also cheap hostels that would impress the most discerning Australian.

We opted for a Kamphengmeuang Road condo unit located in the Vientiane city suburbs. As a result of the ideal location, we had easy access to both the Vientiane city center and day trips outside Vientiane.

Additionally, the staff at our Vientiane hotels was friendly and very helpful with practical matters such as motorbike rentals. They are highly recommended, plus there is a nice swimming pool and excellent hotel restaurant.

My favorite Lao food was lapp chicken and the best place to get the real thing is out in the countryside. Many of the restaurants in rural Lao villages have small gardens right out back and you can see the chef picking the fresh herbs and spices firsthand.

Vientiane hotels

Our Vientiane hotels had an excellent swimming pool and restaurant.

Conclusion

Vientiane Laos is a great place to spend a few days. We used Vientiane city as our initial entry point into Laos and we would spend 2 months in the country traveling from north to south.

Last but not least be sure, be sure to take advantage of the best day trips from Vientiane. There are so many really cool Vientiane things to do and I did my best to provide some comprehensive information. Enjoy the best of Vientiane Laos! 

Recommended Laos Travel Posts

Don’t Miss Wat Phu Champasak
Visit Pakse Golden Buddha
Community Development Projects in SE Asia

 

Additional resources:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vientiane
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patuxai
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laos
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kinnara