by Stefan

Pha That Luang, Vientiane

Your entryway to Laos is more than likely to be the capital city of Vientiane, thanks to its Wattay International Airport as well as its location on the Mekong river border with Thailand near the First Thai–Lao Friendship Bridge, eighteen kilometres downstream.

Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge

The word “capital” may be a little misleading here, however, as Vientiane is a far cry from most other capital cities you may have experienced.

At best, I’d describe the place as a large town with an architectural infrastructure indicative of Laos’ former status as a French colony. It doesn’t look like a city, nor does it feel like one. French influence permeates everything from the wonderful food to the laid back, friendly attitude of the people, which, if anything, reminds me of a sleepy French village, basking in the summer sun.

Herbal Sauna at Wat Sok Pa Luang, Vientiane

It’s perhaps not as pretty as Luang Prabang, but the city has some unique sights all its own that more than makes up for its lacking aesthetic. Don’t miss Talat Sao (the morning market) or the extensive Buddha Park about 30 km south of the city.

Buddha Park, Vientiane by Patrik M. Loeff via

Places to visit in Laos

  • Luang Prabang – the jewel in the crown of Laos tourism
  • Vang Vieng – the place to don your party hat
  • Pakse – the gateway to the Bolaven Plateau and Si Phan Don