5 Things to know before travelling to Vientiane, Laos
5 Things to Know Before Travelling to Vientiane, Laos
Vientiane is a quiet, quaint city full of beautiful French-colonial architecture and tree-lined boulevards and streets. The capital of Laos is located right along the shores of the Mekong River which also serves as the border with Thailand. The Crowne Plaza Vientiane is a short distance from the Thai Embassy and is one the city’s premiere, centrally located hotels. It’s a modern city with ATMs available at all bank branches and Wifi available at most hotels and coffeeshops in the city. The city also has a much more laid-back charm and serenity than you’ll find in most southeast Asian capital cities. The city is well worth a visit. The people of Laos are warm and friendly and there are plenty of sights to see around the city, which give travellers a glimpse into the past history of Laos as well as showing what Laos is all about today.
See the Sights of the City
There are many sights to see in Vientiane, but if you’re only there for a limited time, these are some can’t-miss sights that every visitor should see. Patuxai is a Victory gate which was erected in a park opposite the presidential palace. It’s a beautiful structure in a charming park. Visitors can pay a nominal fee and climb to the top of Patuxai where they can take in the views. Buddha Park is really not as ancient as it looks and it represents the work of one individual. The over 200 whimsical, Buddhist statues contained in the park were built from concrete in 1958 by Luang Phu Bounlea. This is a peaceful park to wander around in and take pictures of the statues that seem to tell a story. The Night Market is the place where you can sample some of the best street food on offer in Laos and pick up a souvenir of your trip also. It’s located along the riverfront and the stalls are setup around sunset and stay open until 9:30 PM. For people who want to try a wide variety of Lao food, this is the place to go.
Go with the Flow in Vientiane
One of the first things you’ll notice is that the city has a slower and gentler pace of life. As a traveller you should be prepared for this slower pace and adapt yourself and your schedule to it. Just go with the flow and enjoy the serenity that comes with this slower pace. After a while, you’ll begin to appreciate the charm of the city a lot more.
Book Your Hotel Early During November to May
As more and more travellers are discovering the laid-back atmosphere and charm of Laos, the pleasant weather months between November and May are becoming the high season for tourists in the city. You should consider not leaving things to chance and booking your accommodations in advance if you’re planning on visiting the city within these months.
Expect a Quieter Night Life
There is night life in Vientiane, but it’s quieter and more understated. The bars, restaurants and discos always shuts down by around eleven PM or midnight as well. The Elephant Lounge in the Crown Plaza Vientiane hotel, Bor Pen Nyang on the 4th floor of a riverside building in the traveller’s area and the Mark 2 beer garden and nightclub in the Ban Sithan Neua area are popular with both the locals and foreigners.
ATMs and Money
There are ATMs all over the city. However, the most reliable ones are attached to the bank branches. But keep in mind that you’ll be charged at least US $5 for every withdrawal. Take as much cash as possible when you arrive in the city and withdraw as much as possible every time you use an ATM to lessen the damage of having to pay the high transaction fees. The ATMs all dispense Lao Kip currency. You should make sure to spend all the Lao currency before leaving the country, as it’s unable to be exchanged outside the country.