How to Spend 1 Day in Vientiane
Even if you have only one day in Vientiane, you can get a very good overview of Laos’ sleepy capital. Besides touring timeless monasteries and Lao landmarks, learn about the consequences of the Vietnam War or Laos’ rich textile traditions, photograph the crazy sculptures at Buddha Park, and watch the sun set over the Mekong. Here’s how.
Morning: Tour the Temples
Buddhism is embedded deep into Lao culture, with many Lao men spending some of their life as monks. Discover it on a tour of timeless temples, such as Wat Si Saket, Ho Pra Keo, Wat Sok Pa Luang, or Wat Si Muang, coupled with Lao landmarks such as Patuxai (Victory Monument), the nation’s answer to Paris’ Arc de Triomphe. Some guided tours enable you to meet and mingle with the monks. Locals love to travel by bike, and pedal power is a great way to explore Vientiane’s flat and quiet streets.
Afternoon: The Concrete Jungle
Buddha Park, a green expanse outside the city covered in giant concrete sculptures from Hindu and Buddhist mythology, is a mecca for photographers and Instagrammers, and many visitors choose to spend the afternoon there. Alternatively, stay in Vientiane and learn about the consequences of the Vietnam War at charities such as COPE, which makes prosthetic limbs for the many thousands of Lao people injured by unexploded weaponry. Laos’ many minority groups produce startlingly beautiful textiles in materials including silk, as well as stunning handicrafts. Exploring workshops, markets, and boutiques is a rewarding way to spend the afternoon.
Night: Sunset Over the Mekong
Spend the evening discovering Vientiane’s vibrant street-food culture. Start with a cold Beer Lao beside the Mekong, as the sun sinks slowly into the calm waters of this majestic river and the street stalls fire up their grills. Then head to Ban Anou Night Market and join the locals in feasting on everything from grilled duck or pigeon to noodle soups, sticky rice, and insects such as crickets or bee larvae. A good guide will work as a translator and help connect you to the vendors. Wrap up the evening with a shot of the national spirit, lao lao (rice whiskey).