Vientiane Tourist Information

Vientiane Travel Guide

Although Vientiane is the capital of Laos, its relaxing atmosphere makes it feel more like a small town compared to Southeast Asia's other chaotic, main cities. Although there are some great tourist attractions in Vientiane, many people choose to pair their trip to Vientiane with a tour of Luang Prabang, the former capital to the north.

According to historical records, Vientiane's origins date back to 1000 AD. However, the city didn't become the capital of the kingdom of Lan Xang ('million elephants') until 1545. The next several hundred years brought mixed fortunes for Vientiane.

The city was attacked in 1828 by the Siamese, and later became the capital of the protectorate of Laos, dubbed so by the French. It kept this position after independence in 1953, and in 1975 when the communists took over.

The city stretches across the northeastern bank of the Mekong river. You'll find most of Vientiane's government offices, restaurants and hotels in the central district, Chanthabuli. Because of its compact size, seeing the sights of Vientiane is relatively easy. Perhaps one of the best ways to tour Vientiane is by bike, which you can rent at many guesthouses in the city.

Vientiane Tourist Attractions

Many tourists choose to start their tour of Vientiane with a visit to city's widest boulevard, which runs from the former Presidential Palace, around Victory Gate (Patuxai) and towards Pha That Luang, which features Laos' most significant religious monument, the That Luang stupa.

Wat Si Saket, Vientiane's oldest standing temple, is also worth a visit and features a museum as well. To find out more about Laos' lengthy and often turbulent history, visit the Lao National Museum. A trip into the surrounding countryside is also worthwhile, as there are facilities for adventure sports like river rafting, kayaking and trekking.

At the end of the day, if you find yourself tired of visiting the city's temples in the humid heat, kick back at one of the riverside beer gardens and enjoy a cold Beer Lao. The river's banks are the perfect place to relax and watch the sun set on the Mekong.

Transport Around Vientiane

Vientiane is accessible by air, with its international airport sitting just a couple of miles west of the city. The airport services several Southeast Asian cities, including Bangkok, Hanoi, Kuala Lumpur, Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, Chiang Mai and Kunming. If travelling overland, many visitors from Thailand take a train or bus to Udon Thani on the Thai side of the Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge, and then hire a taxi for the remaining eight miles to Vientiane.

In terms of crime, Vientiane is a fairly safe city. However, bag snatching is becoming increasingly common. In addition, missing sewer covers on sidewalks have been known to cause injuries. We strongly recommend you take out travel insurance before you travel to Laos, especially if you plan to enjoy sporting activities.