Once more like a sleepy village on the Mekong than a capital city, Vientiane retains a laidback charm bereft of most capital cities but is gradually changing and modernising with more investment and foreign attention.
Yet the march to modernisation has been slow and it’s still a pretty place with wide boulevards, fragrant frangipani, well-preserved French colonial architecture, crumbling Old World urban mansions and Buddhist temples. It’s compact size makes it easy to explore on foot and there’s a pleasing lack of traffic as a result.
Join the throngs of strollers, joggers, lovers and jesters as they promenade along the 14-hectare Chao Anouvong Park, a new development flanking the Mekong River. You can browse stalls selling handicrafts, clothes and other knick-knacks, join tai-chi classes or an aerobics lesson to kitsch ’90s pop songs. You can also now enjoy the surge of cocktail bars and slick restaurants openings cropping up here too. Climb atop a replica of Paris’s Arc de Triomphe and enjoy the views from the deck and visit Ho Phra Keo – a scenic temple complex set in immaculate gardens.
Your travel designer will suggest the best restaurants and bars here, and arrange privately guided excursions to make the most of your time in Vientiane.
When to go
This is a year-round destination but the months of November to April are best for warm days and cool nights.
What to do
- Choose from a menu of private city walking tours to see the sights: the beautifully reconstructed That Luang Buddhist temple, the city’s version of the Arc de Triomphe, Chao Anouvoung Park, and the Morning Market for picking up a few local souvenirs.