Vientiane is located at the central region of Laos is the capital of the country. Less touristy than other capitals in South East Asia, you are more likely to bump into backpackers rather than the conventional tour groups with flag carrying guide. Visiting Vientiane is a refreshing change due to her serene pace of life.
Summer in Vientiane is really hot. Upon stepping out of Wattay International Airport, I was greeted by the scotching hot sun. The mercury probably hits 38C in midday. Fortunately prior arrangement with the hotel for pick up services was made so it’s a quick zoom to the hotel. There are also taxi counters in the airport and you can purchase coupons from them. I think the rate from the airport to the city area starts from USD7 per car.
The journey to the hotel took about 15min and one thing you can’t help notice are the numerous Wat (temples) along the way. Visiting Laos is incomplete without a visit to the Wat. On the first day, I visited Ho Prakeo and Wat Si Saket. Most of the Wat in Vientiane do not charge admission fees but the more popular ones charge 5000-10000KIP per entry. There are different rates for local and foreigners. You can also make a donation to the temple to aid in their operation and restoration work. Ho Prakeo and Wat Si Saket are near the Presidential Palace and within 5min walking distance from each other. If time permits, hire a tuk-tuk to visit Patuxay (Vientiane’s version of Arc de Triomphe). You can climb to the top and enjoy a panoramic view of the city.
From Patuxay, you can continue the journey to Pha That Luang. With its golden exterior, the Laos National Monument is a magnificent sight. Do note that most places of attraction closed at 4pm and some at 5pm so it’s advisable to go early. For those interested to have a better understanding of the history of the country, the Lao National Museum is the place to go. After visiting the museum, you can stop by Swensen just opposite the road. It was quite a pleasant find and the ice cream a great relieve from the sweltering heat.