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19 Best things to do in Vientiane

 
  • 01COPE Visitor Centre

    Image Credit : ccarlstead
    If you visit beautiful Lao PDR, we invite you to come to the COPE Visitor Centre in Vientiane, where you can learn more about COPE. There are a range of things to see and do. Take time to wander through our large free exhibit where you will learn about the UXO problem in Lao PDR and the work undertaken by COPE and the CMR to provide disability services for people affected by UXOs.

    As part of the exhibition you can watch a number of excellent documentary films about UXOs and COPE. Inside the COPE Visitor Centre you will find our gift shop where you can purchase t-shirts, postcards, and other items or simply make a donation. You can also enjoy custom made ice cream and hot and cold drinks at our Karma Cafe.


    Highlights
    – Explore the free exhibit, Purchase unique gifts or make a donation Location – Boulevard Khouvieng, Vientiane, Laos

    Opening Hours
    : 9am to 6pm
  • 02Buddha Park

    Image Credit : roaming-the-planet
    Buddha Park (aka Xieng Khuan) is a famous sculpture park with more than 200 religious statues including a huge 40-metre high reclining Buddha image. The best spot for photography here is on top of the giant pumpkin structure standing about three stories high. The entrance is crafted to look like a demon’s mouth (about three metres high) with a stone ladder inside leading to a bird's eye view of the entire Xieng Kuan Park.

    The most outstanding ones include Indra, the king of Hindu gods riding the three-headed elephant (aka Erawan and Airavata), a four-armed deity sitting on a horse and an artistic deity with 12 faces and many hands, each holding interesting objects.

    Image Credits : www.haaijk.nl



    Highlights
    – This explains why his park is full not only of Buddha images but also of Hindu gods as well as demons and animals from both beliefs.

    Location
    – Vientiane Capital

    Opening Hours-
     8am to 4pm
  • 03Wat Si Muang

    Image Credit : Philip Roeland
    Wat Si Muang is one of Vientiane’s most popular sites of worship, and offers a fascinating insight into how old animist beliefs have blended seamlessly with Theravada Buddhism. According to local legend, when the temple was being built in 1563 a young pregnant woman named Si Muang volunteered to sacrifice herself to appease the angry spirits.

    During the That Luang Festival every October or November, this temple is one of the focal points of the celebrations, and Si Muang is fêted as a guardian of the city. On a daily basis, Wat Si Muang attracts crowds of local Buddhists who want to benefit from its ‘good luck’ powers.

    Image Credits : Philip Roeland



    Highlights
    – This temple is more interesting for its story than for its architecture.  

    Location
    : Wat Si Muang is located at the eastern end of Thanon Setthathirath, in the triangular area formed just before the street merges with Thanon Samsenthai and turns into Thanon Thadeua.

    Opening Hours
    : The temple is open from 06:00 to 19:00 every day
  • 04Black Stupa (That Dam)

    Image Credit : Philip Roeland
    That Dam, or black stupa, is located on a quiet roundabout not far from Talat Sao (the morning market) and the American Embassy. That in Laotian refers to an inverted bell shape (or unopened lotus flower) structure that usually contains relics of the Buddha. Legend has it that a seven-headed water serpent – a ‘Naga’ lived here to protect the stupa that was once covered in pure gold.

    During the Siamese-Laotian war in the 1820s, the gold was pillaged and taken to Siam, now Thailand, leaving the legacy that is the black stupa today. Known as the ‘Black Stupa', many locals believe this mythological structure was once inhabited by a seven-headed dragon (now dormant) that stood to protect the city from the threat of the Siamese.

    Image Credits : Prince Roy



    Highlights
    : Known as the ‘Black Stupa', many locals believe this mythological structure was once inhabited by a seven-headed dragon (now dormant) that stood to protect the city from the threat of the Siamese.

    Location
    : Chantha Khoumane Road, Vientiane
  • 05Patuxai Victory Monument

    Image Credit : shankar s
    With its crenellated upper level topped with five ornate towers in the traditional Laos style, the Patuxai Victory Monument cuts a distinctive figure on the Vientiane skyline. It forms the centre piece of Patuxai Park, and is dedicated to the Laos who were killed in the fight to gain independence from France, as well as from the nation’s earlier occupiers, Siam and Japan.

     

    Image Credits : William



    Highlights
    : Patuxai was built between 1957 and 1968 using funds from the U.S. government.

    Opening Hours
    : From 08:00 to 16:30 on Mondays to Fridays, and 08:00 to 17:00 on Saturdays and Sundays.

    Location
    : Patuxai is situated at the far end of Thanon Lane Xang in the government and diplomatic district. The monument sits on the large ‘island’ formed where the avenue splits into two, opposite the Ministry of Justice to the south and the Prime Minister’s office to the north.
  • 06Vientiane - Pha That Luang

    Image Credit : Stefan Fussan
    The air-conditioned shopping mall (the only one in Laos) is the best place to find electronics, sports equipment and jewellery, while the cavernous original Morning Market is fairly overflowing with mass-produced silks, cheap T-shirts, trinkets and other souvenir type items. Talat Sao is the market to visit if you are looking for something in particular – although bear in mind that the catwalks of Paris and Milan are a long way from Vientiane.

    Despite looking like a shopping mall in a provincial town rather than the flagship shopping destination of a capital city, Talat Sao mall is still a breath of fresh, air-conditioned air to many tourists battling with the tropical heat outside. There are a range of shops and services for tourists to enjoy over five floors, including a Big C supermarket, a three-screen cinema, a children’s play area with plenty of arcade games and flashing lights, and a food court on the fourth floor.

     

    Image Credits : Samnang Danou



    Location
    : Vientiane , Laos

    Opening hours
    : 8am-noon & 1-4pm Tue-Sun
  • 07Wat Ho Phra Kaew

    Image Credit : Antoine 49
    Vientiane boasts several beautiful temples or wats, but one of the most impressive and interesting of them is Wat Ho Phra Keo. It was originally constructed in 1565 as the Lao royal family’s personal chapel, and as a home for the Emerald Buddha after it was snatched from northern Siam (Thailand). This sacred jade statue was reclaimed by the Siamese in 1778 and now sits in Wat Phra Kaew in Bangkok.

    Image Credits : Antoine 49



     Highlights
    – The interior of the temple is now a museum that houses many Lao treasures such as a gilded throne, Khmer Buddhist stone tablets, wooden carvings, bronze frog drums and palm-leaf manuscripts.

    Opening Hours
    : The temple is open from 08:00 to 12:00 and 13:00 to 16:00 every day.

    Location
    : Wat Ho Phra Keo is situated on the corner of Thanon Setthathilath and Thanon Mahosot. It is next to the Presidential Palace and across the road from Wat Si Saket. Mahosot Hospital is on the opposite side of Thanon Mahosot.
  • 08Wat Sisaket

    Image Credit : Stefan Fussan
    Wat Si Saket located in Vientiane is famous for its cloister wall housing thousands of tiny Buddha images and rows with hundreds of seated Buddhas. These images mainly date from the 16th and 19th centuries and come in all sizes and are made from wood, stone and bronze – more than 6,800 Buddhas in total.

    If visiting the temple early in the morning, visitors will come across the many locals that go to pray and make merit as well as to offer food to the monks. It is a charming daily ceremony to witness. The temple is quite shady as it is surrounded by tropical fruit trees.

    Image Credits : Antoine 49



    Highlights
    – Wat Si Saket is not only famous for the interior walls of the cloister but it also has beautiful architecture and layout with history dated back to 1818.

    Opening Hours
    : Daily from 08:00 – 16:00

    Location
    : On Lan Xang Road (across the street from the Presidential Palace), Vientiane
  • 09Houey Hong Vocational Training Centre for Women

    Image Credit : Theo Wright
    Houey Hong Vocational Training Centre for Women was established originally to provide training in the art of weaving for Lao women from poor backgrounds. Over time, with funding from international non-governmental organizations, the training centre has expanded its scope to include minority ethnic groups and disabled folk. The Centre was founded by Japanese-educated Chanthasone Inthavong in 1998, and offers short courses in weaving, dyeing, sewing and small business administration.

    Together with the job placement programme, it hopes to help generate income for people from disadvantaged backgrounds. Situated seven km from Vientiane city centre in a Houey Hong Village, Chanthabury District, the centre is surrounded by a pleasant garden.


    Highlights
    : The sporadic nature of its funding means that the centre has to support itself and it does so by selling crafts made on the premises and offering tailoring services.

    Opening Hours
    : Monday through Saturday 08:30 – 12:00, 13:30 - 16:30

    Location
    : Houey Hong Village, Chanthabury District
  • 10Go Shopping in the Night Market

    Image Credit : bricoleurbanism
    Night markets in Vientiane are among the easiest and most enjoyable ways of getting up close and personal with local life in Thailand's capital. Markets are spread out in most areas of the city and offer an incrediblly diverse range of goods and products, snacks and entertainment; after dark shopping opportunities mean incredible bargains in the moonlight.

    Newer and larger night markets are opening in Vientiane every year, and there's none bigger than the original Rot Fai Market in the east of the city, although the old classics still prove popular, such as Patpong Night Market. A handful of local night markets have been popping up around the city too, great for vintage fashion fanatics or anyone looking to mix in some cheap eats or some evening drinks with their after dark retail therapy.

    Image Credits : bricoleurbanism



    Highlights
    – Temple Street Night Market is an enduring example of the theatre and festivity of a Chinese market. And it’s on show nightly.

    Location
    – Temple Street, Yau Ma Tei, Kowloon
  • 11Half Day Vientiane City Tour by Bicycle

    Half Day Vientiane City Tour by Bicycle
    • h4 Hours
    • lVientiane
    • NNNNN1 review
    • Ms Holly Nguyen
      Supplier
      Ms Holly Nguyen
  • 12Rent a bicycle and explore the country side

    Image Credit : David McKelvey
    Motorbikes are more than a means of transport. They melt you into the rhythm of Vietnamese life. Throw away your itinerary. Take the dirt track. Nip into that village. Explore Vietnam the Vietnamese. Choose from three models of muscular, comfortable, street-legal bikes that countryside mechanics know how to fix. Other shops have more choices. We have the right bikes for the Vietnamese road.

    All can be configured for luggage and 2-up riding. With hundreds of kilometers of mountains, coastline, jungle, rice paddies and history, the Ho Chi Minh Highway is one of the world’s great motorcycle adventures. Rent A Bike Vietnam has rental shops in Hanoi and Danang. Work with our specialist to arrange drop off in any city with a train station. 24/7 roadside assistance in English. Genuine Honda and Yamaha motorbikes maintained with authentic manufacturers’ parts. Full range of motorbike equipment and gear for your comfort

    Image Credits : larique



    Highlights
    – Biking, Tandem, Electric Golf Cart, Electric Scooter
  • 13Phou Khao Khouay National Park

    Sprawling yet little-visited Phou Khao Khouay National Park is located only 40 kilometres northeast of Vientiane, accessible via Route 13 headed to Tha Khaek. The park, which means “Buffalo Horn Mountain”, features some beautiful scenery and a vast array of biodiversity ranging from dense jungle to cool, misty pine forests, rivers and waterfalls, including noteworthy Tad Leuk and Tad Xay – both can be visited in a single daytrip.

    It is the closest National Park to Vientiane, but ironically it can feel like one of the least accessible to the average traveller. Sights within the park are sprawled out and the tourist heyday has come and gone, with many of the once highly touted activities and accommodation set up to be the next big thing now dead or crumbling. Still, the park remains an amazing swathe of nature less than two hours away from the rapidly developing capital city.

    Highlights
    – Bolikhamxay, Khet Phiset Xaisomboon (Special Zone), Vientian Prefecture, Vientiane Province

    Location
    – Vientiane
  • 14Lao Herbal Steam Sauna And Massage

    Image Credit : Stephen Bugno
    Spas and massage shops are in plentiful supply in Vientiane, offering something for every budget. But for something more memorable, take the three kilometre trip out of the centre to Wat Sok Pa Luang, and down a path to the side of the temple you will find a rickety old jungle house offering Lao massage and traditional herbal spa; a hand-painted sign points the way.

    The traditional massage and herbal sauna experience at Wat Sok Pa Luang isn’t for everyone as the facilities are basic, on the other end of the spectrum to a fancy hotel spa treatment, without the sycophantic staff or exclusiveness. But what you do get is the most authentic experience, with true Laotian hospitality and massage beds so close to the forest you can reach out and touch it.

     

    Image Credits : David McKelvey



    Highlights
    – Herbal Steaming, Lao Traditional Massage

    Opening Hours
    : 13:00-20:00 daily

    Address
    : Sok Pa Luang Road

    Price Range
    : Massage - 35,000kip ($US4) Sauna - 15,000kip ($US1.5)
  • 15Wat Ong Theu

    Image Credit : Stefan Fussan
    It was then rebuilt in the 19th and 20th centuries and now holds an important position as the national centre of Buddhist studies. The temple is quite colourful, with bright yellow and red accents. Enter the sim and the Phra Ongteu, its namesake large bronze Buddha, dominates in a serenely seated bhumisparsa mudra “earth witness” posture, signifying the moment just before he attained enlightenment.

    Though the temple is not the most spectacular, its central downtown location makes it a convenient place to go for a meditative stroll. The wat is home to Sangha College, which was first established in 1929 by Prince Phetsarath and Somdet Phra Loukeo Outhen Sakda, head of the Lao sangha and Governor of Vientiane.

    Image Credits : Clay Gilliland



    Highlights
    – This temple is one of the most important in Laos, Rebuilt in the early 20th century.

    Location
    – Vientiane , Laos
  • 16Wat Sokpaluang

    Image Credit : Stephen Bugno
    Spas and massage shops are in plentiful supply in Vientiane, offering something for every budget. But for something more memorable, take the three kilometre trip out of the centre to Wat Sok Pa Luang, and down a path to the side of the temple you will find a rickety old jungle house offering Lao massage and traditional herbal spa; a hand-painted sign points the way.

    The traditional massage and herbal sauna experience at Wat Sok Pa Luang isn’t for everyone as the facilities are basic, on the other end of the spectrum to a fancy hotel spa treatment, without the sycophantic staff or exclusiveness. But what you do get is the most authentic experience, with true Laotian hospitality and massage beds so close to the forest you can reach out and touch it.

    Image Credits : Stephen Bugno



    Highlights
    – Healthy herbal sauna Lao-style, in the leafy grounds of Wat Sok Pa Luang.

    Location
    – Vientiane , Laos Opening

    Hours
    : 1pm to 7pm
  • 17Lao Textile Museum

    Image Credit : University of Hawaii System
    Underneath the raised house there are old looms and antique spinners that you would not find in use anywhere today. Upstairs, textiles are hung on the walls or are simply stacked in cupboards. The collection has some stunning pieces, with several made by different ethnic minority groups. Unfortunately, the textiles don’t have proper storage or display conditions and many of them are deteriorating.

    There is also a studio where they produce silk pieces for their shop and a glossy cultural education centre with professional displays on natural dyes and indigo pots (clearly there has been NGO funding and involvement). The educational centre is largely used as a showroom for large tour groups and it isn’t an active, working, living craft centre you can just drop in on.

    Image Credits : University of Hawaii System



    Highlights
    – The museum also offers Lao cooking classes, although these didn't yet appear to be up and running during our visit, and on Saturdays, lessons on traditional Lao mus

    Location
    – Vientiane , Laos

    Prices
    : Admission 30,000K

    Opening Hours
    : 10am to 4pm
  • 18Mekong Riverside Park

    Image Credit : Philip Roeland
    The Vientiane Night Market is aimed primarily towards tourists, with clean, orderly stalls, and all manner of merchandise that make great souvenirs or mementos. It all begins around sunset when a small army of sellers begin setting up their red-roofed stalls directly on the riverside promenade. You can’t fail to see it. The whole riverside area is alive at this time with joggers and dog-walkers taking advantage of the cooling breezes and stunning backdrop of the sun lazily sinking into the Mekong river.

    Products on offer are fairly typical of night markets throughout the region. You will find a predictable array of Buddhist-inspired paintings and knickknacks, cheap sunglasses, and Beer Lao T-shirts. The clothes stalls tend to be geared towards the backpacker market with fishermen pants and one-size-fits-all dresses and skirts.

    Image Credits : Philip Roeland



    Highlights
    – Built in 1958 by Luang Pu Bunleua Sulilat, the three-headed elephant (aka Erawan and Airavata)

    Location
    – Night Market Quai Fa Ngum Vientiane Laos

    Best time to visit
    : 6pm to 7:30pm