Discovering the Subtle Charm of Vientiane

The Laotian capital of Vientiane is not a city often lauded as a tourist hub. Unlike Bangkok or Saigon, this lazy, tree-lined town is considered boring by many, and to be used only as a transit point for the rest of the country. We loved it.

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Due to circumstances beyond our control, i.e, a week long wait to acquire our Indian visas, we made the capital home for 10 days, split up with a quick trip to Vang Viang. We had been on the road for four months and were feeling a bit road weary after an occasionally difficult month in Vietnam. It was the end of December and we were looking for simple comforts to ring in the New Year; a comfortable hotel, good food, and a set place to hang our hats for a few days.

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Our days took on a pleasant, intoxicatingly mundane rhythm. We woke late, lingered over breakfast, spent lazy afternoons wandering the city, and evenings satisfying our taste buds at a variety of restaurants throughout town.

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Sunset, that magical time of day, was spent drinking Beer Lao on bamboo mats, at one of the many restaurants lining the Mekong. We watched children play on the banks and chatted with locals and tourist alike, reveling in the atmospheric scene.

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We spent several days following the Lonely Planet walking guide, loving the slow pace of the city and the glorious colors of the dozens of temples. Vibrant tiles in all the colors of the rainbow were represented in the exuberant architecture.

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No, Vientiane is not an exciting capital. No, there is no fantastic nightlife. No, there are no outstanding sites. To find it’s true charm, you just need to take the time to peel back the layers to get to the heart of the city.

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4 thoughts on “Discovering the Subtle Charm of Vientiane

  1. I found Vientiane a nice, relaxing place too. There isn’t much to see but we thought the COPE centre was excellent and we liked chilling out in the cafes.

    • I’m glad to hear someone else appreciated the relaxed pace! There isn’t much to see but, sometimes that is okay!

  2. My memories of our short visit to Vientiane are of torrential rain and wading through the flooded streets as we stubbornly insisted on walking across town despite the downpour. I also recall friendly people, amazing accommodation, delicious food and regretting not having more time to spend there, so I think your 10 day visit sounds like it was a much better plan!

    • oh dear… well, excellent weather helped for sure! Perhaps next time you’ll have more time to enjoy the easy pace.

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