When planning a trip to Southeast Asia, the question of whether Vientiane, the capital city of Laos, is worth visiting often arises. With contrasting opinions and mixed reviews, it can be challenging to make a decision. However, after conducting extensive research and analysis, we can confidently say that Vientiane offers a unique travel experience that shouldn’t be missed. In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the various aspects of Vientiane to help you decide if it’s worth adding to your itinerary.

Why Visit Vientiane?

Vientiane, despite its low-profile reputation, has numerous hidden gems and captivating experiences that make it worth exploring. From the warm and welcoming locals to the blend of traditional Asian and French colonial influences, the city offers a distinct charm that sets it apart from other Southeast Asian capitals. While it may not have the bustling energy of Bangkok or the historic allure of Luang Prabang, Vientiane has its own unique appeal that is worth discovering.

Things to Know Before Visiting Vientiane

Before embarking on your journey to Vientiane, there are a few essential things to keep in mind. Firstly, familiarize yourself with the local currency, the Laotian Kip, and consider carrying cash as credit card transactions may result in unfavorable exchange rates. Additionally, be mindful of the conservative dress code, particularly when visiting temples or religious sites, where shoulders and knees should be covered.

Best Time to Visit Vientiane

The best time to visit Vientiane depends on your preferences and priorities. The city experiences a tropical monsoon climate, with distinct wet and dry seasons. The dry season, from November to April, is the peak tourist season, offering pleasant weather and a range of activities. However, it is also the busiest time, with increased crowds and higher prices. The wet season, from May to October, brings refreshing rains and lush greenery, but intermittent showers may affect certain outdoor activities.

Where to Stay in Vientiane

Vientiane offers a range of accommodation options to suit various budgets and preferences. Whether you’re looking for luxury hotels, boutique guesthouses, or budget-friendly options, the city has something for everyone. Some popular choices include the Avilla Phasouk Hotel, known for its excellent location and comfortable rooms, and the Vayakorn Inn, which boasts beautiful architecture and friendly staff. It’s advisable to book your accommodation in advance, especially during peak travel seasons.


Top Attractions in Vientiane

Vientiane may not have an extensive list of tourist attractions, but the ones it does offer are worth exploring. Here are some of the must-visit places in the city:

1. Pha That Luang

Pha That Luang, a magnificent golden stupa, is one of the most iconic landmarks in Vientiane. Believed to have been founded in the 3rd century, this sacred site holds immense religious and historical significance. Visitors can explore the grounds and admire the stunning architecture, surrounded by other temples, stupas, and statues. Don’t miss the opportunity to visit during the annual Pha That Luang Festival, held in November, to witness vibrant celebrations and cultural performances.

2. Buddha Park

Located just outside the city, Buddha Park is a unique and enchanting attraction that should not be missed. The park is home to a collection of intricate and mesmerizing Buddhist and Hindu sculptures, including the famous reclining Buddha. Take your time to wander through the park, marveling at the remarkable craftsmanship and peaceful ambiance. The highlight of the visit is the climb to the top of the dome-shaped Buddha head, offering breathtaking panoramic views of the surroundings.

3. Patuxay

Dubbed as the “Victory Gate,” Patuxay is a prominent war monument that pays homage to Laotian soldiers who fought for independence. Resembling the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, this architectural marvel stands as a symbol of national pride. Visitors can explore the monument’s intricate design, stroll through the gardens at its base, and even climb up to the top for panoramic views of the city.

4. Wat Si Saket

As the oldest temple in Vientiane, Wat Si Saket is a significant cultural and religious site. The temple’s unique design features thousands of small niches, each containing a Buddha statue. Visitors can appreciate the intricate details of the architecture, admire the serene atmosphere, and learn about the rich history of Buddhism in Laos. The nearby Wat Si Saket Museum provides additional insights into the temple’s heritage.

5. Wat Ho Phra Keo

Situated next to the Presidential Palace, Wat Ho Phra Keo is another noteworthy temple in Vientiane. Although it has been destroyed and rebuilt multiple times, the temple remains an impressive sight. Its exterior showcases beautiful bronze Buddha statues, while the interior houses intricate wall paintings and exquisite carvings. Take a moment to appreciate the cultural and artistic significance of this sacred space.

6. Wat Si Muang

Known as the “people’s temple,” Wat Si Muang is a vibrant and bustling religious site. It is believed to be the home of the guardian spirit of Vientiane, attracting locals who come to pray for good fortune and blessings. Visitors can witness the lively atmosphere, observe monks giving blessings, and marvel at the colorful statues and decorations adorning the temple.

7. Vientiane Night Market

Immerse yourself in the vibrant local culture by exploring the Vientiane Night Market. Located along the Mekong River, this bustling market offers a plethora of stalls selling a variety of goods, from clothing and accessories to handicrafts and souvenirs. Indulge in the local street food, sample traditional Lao dishes, and engage in bargaining with friendly vendors. The night market provides an excellent opportunity to experience the lively atmosphere and discover unique treasures.

8. Presidential Palace

Although the Presidential Palace is not open to the public, it is still worth a visit to admire its grandeur and architectural beauty. Located in the heart of Vientiane, this iconic landmark is featured on the country’s currency and serves as a symbol of Laos’ history and government. Take a stroll along the main street outside the palace to capture photographs and appreciate its significance.

9. Mekong River Boardwalk

The Mekong River boardwalk provides a tranquil escape from the bustling city streets. Enjoy a leisurely walk along the riverbank, taking in the picturesque views and observing local life. The boardwalk is lined with small restaurants, cafes, and markets, offering an opportunity to savor local cuisine and interact with friendly locals. Don’t miss the chance to witness a breathtaking sunset over the Mekong River, casting a golden glow over the city.

10. Wat That Khao

Venture outside the city center to discover Wat That Khao, a hidden gem known for its impressive reclining Buddha. This temple complex, dating back to the 16th and 17th centuries, offers a serene and peaceful environment for contemplation and spiritual reflection. Wander through the complex, marvel at the intricate details of the Buddha statue, and appreciate the tranquility of this sacred site.

11. Local Carnival

For a unique and immersive experience, visit the local carnival near Hat Don Chan along the Mekong River. This seasonal event offers fun-filled activities, games, and entertainment for both locals and tourists. Enjoy the lively atmosphere, interact with friendly locals, and indulge in carnival games and local snacks. It’s a fantastic opportunity to immerse yourself in the vibrant culture of Vientiane.


In conclusion, Vientiane, Laos, offers a distinct travel experience that is worth exploring. From its cultural and historical attractions to its warm and welcoming locals, the city has a unique charm that sets it apart from other Southeast Asian capitals. Whether you have a day or a few days to spare, Vientiane’s highlights, such as Pha That Luang, Buddha Park, and Patuxay, will leave a lasting impression. Immerse yourself in the local culture, savor the flavors of Lao cuisine, and take in the breathtaking views along the Mekong River. Vientiane may not be the most popular or well-known destination, but it has its own unique allure that is waiting to be discovered. So, if you’re planning a trip to Laos, don’t miss the opportunity to explore the hidden treasures of Vientiane.