Laos

Vientiane

Vientiane, is the largest city and capital of Laos. It is located on the banks of the Mekong river and on the opposite banks of the river is Thailand.

We stayed in Sabaidee @ Lao, a boutique hotel, with clean rooms and a nice courtyard where breakfast is served. The location of the hotel is very convenient as it is within reasonable walking distance to almost all of the attractions in Vientiane.

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Breakfast in the hotel's courtyard
Breakfast in the hotel’s courtyard

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The massage parlour a new doors away from our hotel. Very reasonable prices and good massage
The massage parlour a few doors away from our hotel. Very reasonable prices and good massage
The street in front of the hotel
The street in front of the hotel

Things to Do

Vientiane is a small city and it is likely that this will be the first port of call for most visitors to Laos, who then will transit to more popular places, like Luang Prabang and Vang Vieng.

However, this does not mean that there is absolutely nothing to see in Vientiane. There are a few places of interest and most will usually be within walking distance from your hotel. We stayed here for 3 nights (4 days) and found plenty to do.

Day 1

After checking into our hotel and having a short rest, we set out on foot to look for some late lunch and a bit of sight-seeing. We were recommended an authentic (slightly up-market) restaurant for Laotian food, which to our disappointment is generally alright but nothing great.

The restaurant recommended by our hotel
The restaurant recommended by our hotel
Inside the restaurant
Inside the restaurant
Authentic Laotian food
Authentic Laotian food

After our lunch, we visited the Talat Sao Mall. There are many individual shops here selling the usual stuffs like, silk, wood carvings, paintings and souvenirs, as can be seen from the following photos.

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Elderly woman selling bamboo baskets outside the mall
Elderly woman selling bamboo baskets outside the mall

After shopping at the mall, we took a slow walk back to the hotel and for an early night’s rest.

Fruits are very nice and cheap
Fruits are very nice and cheap

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A game of cards by the side walk
A game of cards by the side walk

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This is the Black Stupa (That Dam) home for the 7 headed dragon that is believed to have risen to rescue the Vientiane population in the 1828 year war with Thailand
This is the Black Stupa (That Dam) home for the 7 headed dragon that is believed to have risen to rescue the Vientiane population in the 1828 year war with Thailand
The indestructible beetle
The indestructible beetle

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Day 2

Today we decided to have a relaxing day and so we planned to visit just the Wat Si Saket and then have a massage at Nirvana Spa and Massage (which is a few doors away from our hotel) and finish the day at the night market.

On our way to Wat Si Saket
On our way to Wat Si Saket

Wat Si Saket is a temple and museum built in 1818 and once house the Emerald Buddha but continues to house thousand of items in the images of the Buddha. The temple was restored in 1930 after having been damaged by the Thai earlier. Following are photos of Wat Si Saket.

Security guards in front of Wat Si Saket
Security guards in front of Wat Si Saket

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Museum opposite Wat Si Saket
Museum opposite Wat Si Saket
The Presidential Palace opposite Wat Si Saket
The Presidential Palace opposite Wat Si Saket

Our favourite place for a quick lunch. She serves really good fruit juices, coffee and tuna sandwiches.

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On the way to the night market
On the way to the night market
Barbecue food opposite the night market
Barbecue food opposite the night market
Stall at the night market
Stall at the night market
Mekong river next to the night market
Mekong river next to the night market
Thailand on the opposite banks of the Mekong river
Thailand on the opposite banks of the Mekong river

Day 3

On our last day, we decided to check out some places for furnitures made of local wood. We were told that we can find some in outskirts of Vientiane town so we hired a tuk tuk to take us around for the day.

However when we got to the mall that sell furniture, all the shops were closed as it was a Sunday.

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We then decided to return to Vientiane town to visit the Patuxai (L’Arc de triomphe of Vientiane) and the markets.

The Patuxai was apparently built using cement intended for a new airport. You can climb up to the top of the monument and have a view of Vientiane town.

Before we got to the Patuxai, we passed by Phat That Luang (Great Sacred Stupa) but we did not go into the temple. The Stupa is said to be covered with 24 carat gold.

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Phat That Luang (Great Sacred Stupa)
Our tuk tuk
Our tuk tuk
Patuxai
Patuxai

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The stall (opposite the night market) where we had our dinner for the last night in Vientiane
The stall (opposite the night market) where we had our dinner for the last night in Vientiane

We actually had a great time in Vientiane despite it not having many tourist attractions. The Buddha Park about one hour from Vientiane apparently is also a good place to visit. Well maybe next time when I set foot in Vientiane again for transit to Luang Prabang or Vang Vieng.

All images shot with Fuji XE-1 + Fujinon 18mm f2 lens.

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