My time in Laos was sandwiched by Vientiane, where I flew in and out via Air Asia. I arrived on Tuesday, Sept. 23 and flew out one week later. I spent the first two days in Laos in the capital, and my final night there as well.
The first day I was in the city, I arrived around 9:30 a.m., I spent most of the day just relaxing in the hostel and watching Youtube videos. Gasp! What a waste of time. But I was so tired and really just needed a day to do nothing. I’m certainly not always on the go when I’m at home, so how can I expect to power through 6 weeks of traveling with a constant go, go, go attitude. It was a fantastic break! I did go out for food, however, and ate a delicious sandwich from a vendor for lunch. Later for dinner, I decided to try out a Korean restaurant, which served a delicious japchae dolsot bibimbap with ample banchon, filling my stomach and my heart. It was such a comfort food!
The next day I walked around the city, visiting the few spots that Vientiane has to recommend. I first saw the That Dam, which is just an old stupa in the middle of a roundabout. Nothing special. But on the way to the stupa, I spotted a Google Street View car! I was quite excited to see one. It was like spotting a unicorn… because I’ve definitely seen one of those before. And I saw the car once more on a different street just after leaving the That Dam. So it’s quite likely I will be visible in some of the Laos Google Street View images!
I then headed on to Patuxai, a structure built to resemble the Arc de Triomphe. Interestingly, the cement the structure was made from was actually supplied by the American government, intending it to be used to build a new airport. The monument itself was not so attractive, but climbing to the top afford lovely views of the city. It was only 3,000 kip (about 32 cents) to climb, so totally worth it.
After that I walked to Pha That Luang, which cost 5,000 kip (62 cents) to enter. The stupa was lovely, and the area around it was interesting as well. I found a Joma Bakery, a chain bakery around Southeast Asia, nearby and enjoyed a break there, drinking a chai tea latte and eating a bagel. After my short break, I continued on, walking to the Presidential Palace. I could only see the palace from outside the gate, but it was an interesting building. I then explored the park behind the palace and next to the river before heading back to my hostel, where I got the overnight bus to Luang Prabang.
More will follow on Luang Prabang, but first to finish up my time in Vientiane. I returned to the city on Monday Sept. 29. I had intended to visit the nearby buddha park, but by the time I arrived to the hostel and was ready to leave (about 3 p.m.), I didn’t have enough time to make the journey out there before the park would close. Part of me is a bit bummed that I didn’t see the park, but it was nice to have another relaxing day of nothing to do but catch up on blogging and take a short trip out to check out the night market.
While my time in Vientiane was pleasant, I would absolutely say the city does not require a visit. If you are flying in and/or out of the city, then by all means enjoy what is there. But I would not make a trip specifically to see Laos’ capital.
Vientiane Gratitude Journal
1. I am grateful for time to rest.
2. I am grateful for international cuisine.
3. I am grateful for tall places with great views.
*NOTE: Exchange to/from Laotian Kip in Laos. It’s nearly impossible to do it outside of the country.