Laos's capital as well as its largest city, with a population of about 750,000 people, Vientiane is situated on the Mekong River in north-central Laos, near the country's border with Thailand. Vientiane has long been popular with adventure travelers for the access it provides to both northern hill-tribe areas like Luang Namtha and southern destinations like Pakse and the "4,000 Islands" stretch of the Mekong. Today, it is also increasingly being seen as a destination in its own right: a relaxed, verdant city that is home to beautifully preserved temples, a wealth of markets and shops, and luxury accommodation as well.

Browse Vientiane's Talat Sao Market for bargain trinkets and memorable souvenirs; explore the That Luang Stupa, a veritable national treasure of Laos; or stroll along Vientiane's waterfront, dotted with French-era structures.


A handpicked selection of experiences endorsed by our experts. If you can’t see what you’re looking for, let us know, as our extensive network of local contacts can open many doors.

Family Dinner

In the evening, a prominent local family will host you for a dinner prepared by one of Vientiane's premier chefs. Laotian food is a spicy melange of Thai, Vietnamese and Chinese cuisines, never served without sticky rice and the ubiquitous local chili paste.

Handicrafts & Textiles

Visit some of Vientiane's more interesting private shops, such as Sandra Yuck's Caruso gallery of ebony wooden creations and Carol Cassidy's Lao Textiles. Meet wood- and stone-carving experts, who can offer hands-on demonstrations, and stop by the Vientiane Silk Museum, recognized for its fine collection.

Night Market

Visit Vientiane’s night market, located along the Mekong River on Fa Ngum Road. Browse through a number of locally produced handicrafts, clothing and other goods for sale.

Patuxay Monument

Visit Patuxay Monument, considered to be Vientiane’s Arc de Triomphe, with influence from Lao Buddhist architecture. Designed by Tham Sayasithsena, the monument features four archways facing each cardinal direction, and was erected as a tribute to those who fought for independence from France in the 1950s.

Riverfront Walk

Go for a brief stroll along Vientiane’s river walk to become familiar with central Vientiane, situated on a scenic bend of the Mekong River. The river walk is lined with a number of boutique restaurants and cafes.

Talat Sao Market

Visit Talat Sao Market, a covered two- tory structure selling all sorts of produce and household goods. There is unfortunately a large four-story mall nearby that caters to expatriates and locals alike, but Talat Sao is still authentic and has many delicious food stalls with Lao snacks and jars of snake wine, a local favorite.

That Luang Stupa

Visit the striking golden That Luang Stupa, Vientiane's most revered temple and Laos's national monument, which is attended daily by numerous local pilgrims. Originally built in the 3rd century as an Indic temple, it was converted into a Khmer-style structure in the 13th century. Later European visitors to Laos, including Dutch and French explorers, marveled at this magnificent structure and memorialized it in writing and drawings.

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