My first trip this 2020 brought me to one of the most laidback capital cities I’ve ever been in Southeast Asia, Vientiane, Laos. I didn’t do any research about Laos or any Vientiane Travel guide.
I honestly didn’t have any plan to visit it anytime soon, but I’m glad my friends dragged me to join them on this trip.
Vientiane is the capital city of Laos, home to less than 1 million people. It can be found along the Mekong River near the border of Thailand. Laos was once under French control in the 18th and 19th centuries. Hence, French influence can be seen in the country’s food and architecture.
Lao people are generally hospitable and helpful. Life in the city is very laid back. I noticed that some stores open late and I can count on my fingers the number of tall buildings in the capital.
There is no traffic since there are only a few cars in the city. What I love most is the coffee culture, even though I’m not a fan of coffee. The vibe feels like Laos was stuck somewhere in the 90s.
It’s so amazing to visit a place with no Starbucks, McDonalds, and other big western names in the food industry. Most businesses are locals, probably one of the reasons why I love Vientiane. It’s a breath of fresh air from a common capital city.
Here is a quick Vientiane Travel Guide you plan your trip
How to get to Vientiane from Bangkok
There is no direct flight from Manila to Vientiane so after celebrating the new year in Bangkok, we flew to Laos. At first, we considered taking a train to get there but considering the amount of time it will consume, and the small difference in fare rate, we decided to just go by plane. I highly recommend taking a direct flight via Laos Airline for less than an hour. Alternatively, you may book your flight with Thai Airways or AirAsia from Bangkok.
There is also another option that involves flying and crossing the borders, which two of my friends took. You may travel through Nok Air from Bangkok to Don Mueang. From there, you will take a shuttle that will take you to the Thailand-Laos border and from there, you will take a bus or a shuttle to reach Vientiane City.
When I arrived at Vientiane airport, I was surprised that there were very few tourists around that I asked myself if I was in the right airport. Vientiane is a city so I was expecting that it would be a busy airport.
Going to the city from the airport is easy. I bought a ticket for about 2usd then went to a designated bus stop. They handed me a map of where the bus will stop.
I googled my accommodation and checked the nearest bus stop. You just have to tell the bus conductor the bus stop number where they should drop you off. You may also just keep your attention to the announcement of the driver and the conductor. Don’t expect any luxury; it was an old, air-conditioned bus but at least it has fast WiFi.
Where to Stay in Vientiane
For budget-conscious, we found a good deal at Agoda with Green Box hotel. A single capsule in a dorm-type room cost us around 10usd. Do manage your expectations; this is just a place to sleep. The dorm looks better in the photos than in actuality. However, it has the best location, just a few minutes away to Vientiane Night Market and Patuxai Monument.
The hostel is generally clean and they have a small restaurant in the receiving area. Their staff are also accommodating if you need any help. They are the ones who helped us arrange our transportation going to Vang Vieng.
If you are looking for a luxury place to stay in Vientiane, I recommend Crowne Plaza Vientiane for around 100usd per night.
My Box Hostel and Cafe is one of the most recommended hostels in Vientiane for around 10usd per night for a dorm type room.
Bloom Boutique Hotel and Cafe is good if you are looking for a private room on a budget. Room per night will cost you only 40usd.
What to do in Vientiane
Since we had limited time in Vientiane, we spent most of the time walking and looking for a place to eat or a cafe to hang out. Here are some of the things to do and see in Vientiane.
- Shopping at Vientiane night market
- Pha That Luang – Visit one of the most fascinating Stupas in Laos, which will give you more details about Buddhism.
- Wat Si Muang – A very special temple if you want to receive blessings
- Patuxai – Truly architectural gem in the center of the city
- Try different unique cafes in the city some of the most recommended are common grounds cafe and bakery, Joma Bakery and Cafe Sinouk
The next time you see that airfare sale to Thailand and you want to explore a new culture and experience something different, take that side trip to Laos. Vientiane City is a perfect place to just chill and enjoy a laid back vibe. I hope this Vientiane Travel Guide helps you.