Lao PDR’s capital with its French heritage, offers historical sites, Cheap and good Lao massage and shopping and, of course, delicious French food.
Visas can be obtained from Lao embassies and consulates in your country, or on arrival at several checkpoints: international airports, and borders with China, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia. Tourist and business visas are usually issued for 30 days, and they can be extended twice in Vientiane for 30 days. Your passport must have at least six months of remaining validity and a blank page to stamp the visa stamp on. For visas on arrival, carry two passport-sized photos with you.
Vientiane has quite stable weather year round, with a minimum of 16°C to 17°C in December and January, and a maximum of 35°C to 36°C in March and April.
Laos has 41 airports, four of them international, in Vientiane, Pakse, Luang Prabang and Savannakhet. Wattay International Airport, in Vientiane Capital, has regular services from Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Siem Reap, Phnom Penh, Kunming, Guang Zhou, Singapore, Seoul and Kuala Lumpur. Direct flights are also available to Luang Prabang from Bangkok, Hanoi and Chiang Mai. Lao Airlines is popular for domestic flights, and Bangkok Airways, Thai Airways International, Vietnam Airlines, China Southern Airlines and Air Asia for international ones.
Touristic places in Vientiane can visited by bicycle (LAK 10,000 per day), which can be rented from travel agencies. Moving around by a scooter will of course be faster (LAK 300,000 per day), and although it’s not easy to find the street you’re looking for, you’ll always get to your destination eventually.
(●Thanon Lan Xang): Built in 1969 and a symbol of the pre-revolutionary war, Vientiane’s Arc de Triomphe replica is a particularly beautiful spot to take photos at sunset and at night.
Pha That Luang (●Thanon That Luang): A must-see monument, it is Laos’s most important symbol of Buddhism and Lao sovereignty.
Wat Si Saket and Haw Pha Kaew (●Thanon Tha Deua): More than 300 Buddhas of different sizes and styles can be found in Wat Si Saket, while Haw Pha Kaew is today a museum showcasing religious art.
Wat Sok Pa Luang (●Thanon Sok Pa Luang): Join Buddhist nuns, monks and novice monks in an afternoon pooja at this forest temple located three kilometers from the city center.
Xieng Khuan (●Thanon Tha Deua): This sculpture park, also called Buddha Park, was built in 1958 and it features icons of the Buddhist and Hindu traditions amidst quiet and green surroundings.
(●Thanon In Paeng): Delicious gratins, wood-fired pizzas, pâtés, salads and homemade deserts, along with French wine, all at very reasonable prices.
Le Banneton (●Thanon Nokeo Khumman): Stop by for a baguette, éclairs or macarons that you enjoy seated in French style on the terrace, looking at people walking by.
Makphet (●Thanon Setthathirat): Traditional Lao food with a social mission; everything you eat and/or buy there will help local disadvantaged children.
Café Sinouk (●Rue Samsenthai): Don’t miss stopping by to try Lao’s traditional coffee with condensed milk. Yum!
La Belle Epoque Restaurant (●Settha Palace Hotel, 6 Pang Kham Street): Classic French and Thai fine dining.
Lao (official), French, English, other ethnic languages
Lao Kip; USD 1 = LAK 7,881; THB 1 = LAK 238. THB are widely accepted.
Tropical monsoon; rainy season (May to November); dry season (December to April)