As a backpacker / traveler, we tend to read about places before or perhaps during when we visit one destination. Many argued that one shouldn’t spend so much time on Vientiane but there are some saying otherwise. Despite being arguably one of the smallest capital cities you’ll visit in Asia and overshadowed by it’s famous counterpart – charming Luang Prabang and wild Vang Vieng, Vientiane does have its own charms and yield surprise to those who spend a little time exploring. But, what this small capital city has to offer? Is it worth to skip Vientiane?
I think not!
Although Vientiane is Laos’ biggest city, it still has a small town feel to it – as if you’re back in the 1970s. Everything (literally all attractions except for Buddha Park) is in walking distance. Some attractions are free but most of them requires 10,000 Kip as entrance fee. Let’s find out what can one expect in Vientiane?
wat si saket
On the corner side of Vientiane lies one of the oldest standing temple and remarkable landmark of Vientiane, Wat Si Saket. This temple is unique in it’s own way as it is famous for its cloister wall housing thousands of tiny Buddha images alongside with hundreds of Buddhas statues. It is one of the best landmark in Vientiane one shouldn’t miss. You don’t have to splurge on the entrance fees as it cost 5,000 kip (less than a dollar).
Doubt as the Lao version of famous Arc de Triomphe, this is a place you may consider to visit. Despite some saying this giant concrete monster was ugly (which I eventually agrees) but the scenery from the top makes me think otherwise. It gives you an aerial view on Vientiane. I did enjoyed this area and been spending 2 hours hanging around this area!
Located a little outskirt, approximately 24 km outside the Vientiane city lies a park loaded with Buddhist and Hindu statues. Buddha Park has developed into a major tourist attraction in Vientiane. Although it might be a little tricky to get here – some tour or hostels will try to up-sale you a day trip to Buddha Park for 70,000 Kip (USD 9). But one can get hear easily with local bus.
Getting there: Go to Central Bus Station at Talad Sao and take bus #14. The fare is 6,000 and driver will drop you off at Buddha Park. Expect an hour to get there! They will drop you right in front of Buddha Park.
The highlight of this Buddha Parks is that climbing inside the mouth of giant pumpkin shaped building! You will be rewarded with a nice view of the park once you make your way on top!
You really do not need more than one full day to see Vientiane. (I stay in Vientiane for 2.5 days). Although it is been constantly overlooked by tourist, I believe that you should at least stay for a day and explore the city. Apart from the main attractions listed above, you can use this city for some delicious cuisine or simply buy a Lao Beer and chill along the river.
Day(s) recommended in Vientiane: 1 day should be enough!