Vientiane is more than just the capital of Laos. It is lively, perfectly relaxed, and cosy. Here you will find a good amount of bars and restaurants and a friendly vibe and atmosphere. The city is located by the famous Mekong River and many travelers visiting Vientiane, chose to continue their journey by boat down the river.
Even though Vientiane has the relaxed atmosphere of a colonial village, you won't get bored here! There are several beautiful sites in and around the city that are well worth a visit. One of Vientiane’s highlights is the 'Patuxai': the Arc the Triomphe of Asia, a result of the French influence in Laos. From the top of the Patuxai you will get a beautiful view of the old city and the Mekong river... don't forget your camera! Just outside the city you find the country's most important temple complex: 'Pha Tat Luang'. The temples are covered with solid gold and together they form the symbol of the Buddhist Loas! But also the 'Wat Phra Keo' and the 'Wat Sisaket' temples, just outside of the city, are definitely worth a visit!
If you are looking for some good deals and typical Laotian souvenirs, the 'Talat Sao' or Morning Market is the place to be. Here you can buy almost anything you need: from electronics, watches and clothing, to the famous Laotian silver jewelry. But most of all, the Morning Market (open all day) is famous for it's beautiful weaved textile en scarves, which you can buy here for a good price... That is if you know how to haggle! If you do it right, you won't have to pay more than a third or even a quarter of the initial price!
The famous Buddha Park 'Wat Xieng Khuan' is situated about 25 kilometers outside the city. The park is built by a yoghi-philosopher to integrate the different Asian religions with Laotian folklore legends. In the park you find an impressive collection of huge concrete sculptures of Buddhist and Hindu deities and real and imaginary beasts. The park is beautifully situated on the banks of the Mekong River, so after the walk there are plenty of nice cafes along the river where you can enjoy a refreshing drink, or a romantic dinner at sunset... an experience you will never forget!
Laos is becoming more popular with visitors resulting in an increase in hotels and hostels as well as new budget airlines and number of flights. Vientiane hotels range from modest guesthouses, with dormitory-rooms, and inexpensive hotels to luxury accommodation. Normally, you can simply walk into the center and look around in the streets around the 'Nam Phu Square' to find a suitable accommodation. Only in the high season (January) it is recommended to book your room in advance!
Vientiane is the place to be for passionate pedestrians. There is probably no other city in this region which is so easily explored by foot. Another easy and fun way to explore Vientiane and the surrounding area is by bicycle. Cruise through the broad avenues at your own pace, or along the Mekong River where local farmers grow all sorts of fresh fruit. And if cycling is too much workout for you on your holiday, you can find a nice tuk-tuk driver on every corner, who will be more than happy to bring you around town for a good price... Just sit back, relax and enjoy the ride!
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