The ultimate reason why I visited Laos was to see Kuang Si Falls. However, after deciding to go there and conducting further research, I was determined to also explore Laos’ beautiful and many caves in Vang Vieng, as well as its beautiful mountain scenery. I had seven days to Explore Laos after celebrating Yi Peng Lantern Festival. So, I visited Vientiane, Luang Prabang (where the Kuang Si waterfall is), and Vang Vieng. This article will focus on attractions in Vientiane only.
Getting to Vientiane City from the airport
I arrived at Vientiane International Airport (VTE) on November 15th 2019, after flying from Chiang Mai International Airport (CNX) by Air Asia. It takes about 6,5 hours from Chiang mai to Vientiane due to 4,5 hours transit we had to have in Don Mueang Airport Thailand since there’s no direct flight offered by AirAsia. I arrived around 2 pm in the afternoon.
Getting to the city center from Vientiane Airport is pretty simple since there are only two ways, which is by shuttle bus or by taxi. We went to the city using shuttle bus as it’s cheaper than taxi, and it is very easy to find. Just right on the arrival hall near the exit, you can find the shuttle bus counter with a clear sign. On the counter you can ask the nearest bus stop from your accommodation and pay for the ticket, or you can find it here. The officer will then show you where the bus is parked. One way for shuttle bus is 15,000 Kip (1,6 USD) and for the taxi is around 55,000 to 70,000 KIP (USD 6-8) depends on the type of the vehicle used.
Our Accommodation in Vientiane
I don’t normally write about where I stayed, but I feel like this accommodation is worth sharing. I found this gem in Airbnb. Owned by Adam, this B&B/Hostel/guesthouse is amazing. It’s 10-minutes-walk from the nearest shuttle bus, the place is quite new, and the price is reasonable.
Me and my friend stayed at private room with ensuite bathroom. The interior of the place is very chic, modern and minimalist, place is clean, and really comfortable. The social area is also wide and comfy. The ensuite bathroom wall is from glass though, and it’s visible from the bedroom. They have curtain to cover it, but it’s also transparent. For some people this may be an issue, but for some it is not. You may want to check if all the ensuite bathroom is transparent, but our room definitely was. They provide breakfast as well and it was simple but delicious. By all means, I loved staying in this place.
How to get around Vientiane
On the first day, we went sightseeing around the city center (Patuxai monument and Sitsaket Temple) so walking was the best way to get around the city. But on our last day in Vientiane, we rent a motorbike on Mixay Bike 2. We got the recommendation from our guesthouse to rent on Mixay Bike 1 but they ran out of bike, so we were referred to Mixay Bike 2. These bike rentals were managed by brothers and give reasonable price. It has automatic and semi-automatic for 70,000-80,000 Lao Kip per day.
If you just want to have a sightseeing around the city center and you don’t have time constraint, walking is preferable. But, if you only have a day and wanted to visit some temples and stupas in Vientiane, renting a motorcycle should be considered.
We went to Vientiane twice, first on November 15th 2019 when we first arrived at Laos, and the second round was on November 19th-20th after we went to Luang Prabang and Vang Vieng. So, the places I visited in Vientiane and mentioned here are from both occasions. On the third day (November 20th 2019), we just roaming around the Vientiane City and did a café hopping (I have full review on my Instagram stories for all the 5 cafes I visited in Viantiane) and you can check them on the stories highlight about laos which is available on my Instagram profile.
Here’s the itinerary of places we visited in Vientiane. Although we visited these place on different days, these places can be visited within one day.
We visited Patuxai Monument on the first day we arrived at laos on November 15th 2019. Originally, we wanted to go to sitsaket Temple and Hophakeaw Temple, but by the time we arrived, it had been closed already and we proceed to Patuxai Monument instead.
The moment i saw Patuxai monument, I felt the similarity of it with the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. It’s no wonder they have similarities since Patuxai war monument which was built from 1957-1968 are dedicated to those who fought in the independence from France. The France colonized Laos from 1893 to 1953 with the Kingdom of Laos was granted full independence in the Franco-Lao Treaty of 1953 and reaffirmed in the 1954 Geneva Conference which ended French control of all of Indochina (resource: Wikipedia).
Patuxai came from “Patu” which means door or gateway, and “Xai” which means victory. Hence, Patuxai means Victory Gate. The monument has five towers that represent the five principles of coexistence among nations of the world. They are also representative of the five Buddhist principles of “thoughtful amiability, flexibility, honesty, honor and prosperity.
During the sunset, you can watch from one of the gate’s door as the sun set from the horizon and it’s such a beautiful view. During the night, the fountain from the garden emitting colourful lights and it’s worth checking.
Pha That Luang
Phat That Luang is gold-covered Stupa in Vientiane. It is believed to be built as early as in the 1st century as Hindu Temple. This golden stupa is believed to enshrine a breast bone of the Buddha. The stupa today consists of three levels, each conveying a reflection of part of the Buddhist doctrine. The Pha That Luang consists of three levels. On top of the first level wall are hundreds of sema stones that mark the sacred area. At the center of each side of the wall is a prayer gate called Haw Wai, an open structure with a double roof containing a Buddha image. The stairs to it are guarded by Naga snakes.
On top of the wall marking the second level are hundreds of stones and 30 small stupas. Arched gates lead to the third level that measures 30 by 30 meters and contains the 45 meter high stupa. The upper part of the stupa resembles an elongated lotus bud topped with a multi-tiered parasol. (source:renown-travel)
Wat That Luang Tai and Wat That Luang Neua
These two temples are located near Pha That Luang Stupa. Out of four temples that were built around the Stupa (one on each side) in the 16th century, only two remain today. To the South is the Wat That Luang Tai, an open sala like building with a three tiered roof. To the North is the Wat That Luang Neua. This is the temple where the supreme patriarch of Laos Buddhism resides. We went to the Wat That Luang Tai and it was such a beautiful temple with intricate ornament on its roof.
The Night Market
The night market that we went was located near the Mekong River. There were lots of street food stall and various goods such as clothes, electronics, toys, hand craft, and many other. The market is located on the park, so there were lots of people relaxing on the park as well. It is a good spot to watch the sunset in Vientiane.