Vientiane, as the capital city, is home to many colourful and interesting cultural attractions that illustrate the past and present history of the dynamic and fascinating country of Laos. Most of these attractions are spread around the city, and it can take as much as a full day to see them all.
But there are some attractions that are well worth visiting within a short tuk-tuk ride from the Crowne Plaza Vientiane. Some of these attractions offer a glimpse of both the Lao-style of architecture as well as colonial architecture. Others offer a wonderful sample of the sights, sounds and tastes of modern Vientiane. Here is what is on offer within a short distance from the Crown Plaza.
The Presidential Palace
You can view this imposing structure only from a distance, but it’s fascinating to see, nonetheless. Officially opening its doors in 1986, the Presidential Palace isn’t actually the official residence of the president, it’s used for official state functions and, because of this, the public is not allowed on the grounds. The palace, designed in the modern Lao-style of architecture, is situated in the middle of well-manicured gardens that are every bit as splendid and impressive as the palace itself is
Lao National Cultural Hall
Architecture buffs will also undoubtedly appreciate the Lao National Cultural Hall located along Rue Setthathilath. The soaring colonnades and intricate detail on the front facade of the building represent the modern Lao-style of architecture at its very finest. Although only open to the public during special events and art exhibitions, the Cultural Hall is nevertheless a favourite subject for tourist photographers.
The National Library is a classic example of the colonial architecture that that was the result of the country being a protectorate of France from 1893 until it granted self-rule in 1946. The building was originally created to serve as the governor’s residence in that bygone era. Today, it’s the repository of Laos’s most important books, scrolls and documents. The library is located midway between the Lao National Cultural Hall and the Presidential Palace.
Chao Anou Night Market
For hunters of high-quality souvenirs, a good destination is to head to the Chao Anou Night Market after the sun sets for the day. Rather than being aimed at the tourist trade, the market is oriented toward the local people, both vendors and buyers, who congregate at the market to do their shopping and trade in silks, hillside tribe handicrafts, and silver jewellery. The market serves up some tasty Lao delicacies that visitors are invited to sample. It also is a good source of inexpensive clothing, appliances and electronics.
Mekong Riverside Walk
The Mekong Riverside walk is a romantic place to end your long day of sightseeing around the city. Taking a stroll along the riverside promenade is something of a tradition in Vientiane, and you’re likely to be joined by Laos from all areas of the city who have come to the river to enjoy the cooler evening air and socialise with the families and friends. Pick up some snacks and drinks at the numerous stalls along the way and soak in the atmosphere of another evening of after work leisure time in Vientiane.