There isn’t much to recommend Vientiane, Laos, it turns out. It is a sleepy little town which also happens to be a national capital. There is a little bit of culture and history, but not a ton. Most of the tourist sites are not actually in the city center. And, despite sitting on the Mekong River, there isn’t much river life to be seen. Lots and lots of nothing going on, at least that we could find.
That said, there were two major temple sites we visited on the afternoon we arrived, and they certainly put on an impressive Buddha display. Hundreds of them. All over the place. And while Buddha fatigue was already starting to settle in, I have to admit that the collection was impressive.
In a separate area of the temple there was a collection of broken Buddhas, too.
The images themselves were cool, especially in such great quantities. Equally impressive were the ornate water troughs used for ritual cleanings. The detail and color were quite rich.
If you happen to find yourself in Vientiane I’d say definitely go visit the temples. There isn’t much else to do and they are a good way to pass a few hours. But other than that, try not to be stuck for too long in town.
More photos from the temples in Vientiane here.
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Wow, I just love the Buddha statue pictures. Maybe because I’ve never seen them. I currently have a plan to visit Singapore, Phuket and Tokyo in December. My first trip to Asia. If things work out with scheduling with work, I may be able to extend it to Bangkok and/or Chiang Mai to see my first Buddha statues.
If not this December, the next few years for sure!
I think my favorite thing to do in VTE was to sit on the river and drink Beer Lao. There was a lot going on in the parks along the river. Huge Groups of people do aerobics, a HillTrip Night Market, etc.
Also, there was good Pho, and the National Museum was interesting if strange experience.
Also, renting a bicycle and riding around the city was interesting.
We had thought about going to a Football Game but it had sold out.
Glad I skipped VTE and headed straight to the party in Vang Vieng.
Was in Vientiane in ’92. Most of the expats in town would gather around a fountain at night and drink the local beer, which was served in plastic orange juice pitchers — large was two liters and small was one liter (there was a black magic marker line on the pitcher to assist in measuring). Damn good beer, too, for such an out of the way place.
Worst thing was renting Chinese made bicycles that were so bad you had to pedal to go downhill.
I actually quite liked Vientiane, it was quieter and less crowded than Vang Vieng or Luang Prabang. Ate great food every day and chill out by the river at sunset.
Side benefit: Vientiane is a capital city with foreign embassies and consulates, yet fewer travelers. Good place to get visas and other related business done. I got additional pages to my passport at the U.S. consulate. Aside from one local applying for a visa, I was the only other customer.
Well those are some nice pictures of Buddhas. thanks for the tip Seth about the limited possibilities for sightseeing at the capital. Still, it’s on my list when I get to Laos!
And don’t forget to see – That Luang Stupa, Patuxai Victory Arch, Wat Ong Teu (Temple of the Heavy Buddha), Kaysone Phomvihane Museum, and Buddha Park.
Am in Vientiane now, and tend to agree. I should have spent more time in Luang Prabang. Still, it’s only for a few days, and going to Hue on Friday.
Everyone always says get out of VTE immediately. Well, I agree if you’re looking for the dirty farang party scene of Vang Vieng (in which case I’m glad it’s at least contained to a few small areas).
VTE can be an interesting city to check out. I liked a bar called Wind West. There wasn’t another non Lao person in there on the night my buddy and I went. Good music and met some cool locals. After all, I don’t go to asia to find europeans to hang out with. No offense, but that’s what europe is there for.
If you think that I was looking for a party scene, Chino, then you don’t know me very well at all.
I wasn’t looking for a party and didn’t visit Vang Vieng at all on the trip. But I was looking for something less sterile and more culturally interesting. Vientiane didn’t offer that at all IMO.
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