I’m not going to lie to you. We weren’t in Vientiane, the Laotian capital, for more than 14 or so hours. That’s because we had to catch a flight to Bangkok and the trains from Vang Vieng didn’t line up nicely to leave the same day.
That said, I’m glad we got to see Vientiane. There’s plenty you can see in one night and one morning, but if you can do a whole day, I don’t think you’d regret it.
But like I said, I have a flight to catch to Bangkok. So let’s get moving!
Where is Vientiane?
Vientiane sits right on the Thai-Laotian border with the Mekong River, which you saw earlier if you started your Laotian trip in Luang Prabang.
How to get to Vientiane
The Laotian train is a relatively new means of transportation in Laos. It’s a high-speed train built and funded by the Chinese, beginning in Yuxi, China and ending in the Laotian capital of Vientiane. The plan is to cross the Mekong River on a new bridge by 2028 to meet up with the planned Bangkok-Nong Khai high-speed railway.
The train cuts the journey down massively from Luang Prabang to Vang Vieng. The train is a no brainer for that route. However, from Vang Vieng to Vientiane, a bus might actually be faster because the train stations in Laos are not in the city center and there’s not much of a landscape fo the roads to deal with on this route.
It’s just a 90-minute bus ride from Luang Prabang, a smidge longer than the train (but again, the station is roughly 30 minutes outside of the city center). And since you’ll need to take a cab, you’re going to have to wait until the cab fills up before the driver is willing to go. The time adds up and I talk about this in my travel tips for Laos.
Best time of year to visit Vientiane
We were in Vientiane in early March and we could feel the massive swing in temperature from the north to this Thai-Laotian border. Night, when we arrived, was comfortable. But we had to build in time for a rinse-off shower after our morning walk before going to the airport, because holy hell, was it hot! So you might want to keep that in mind and visit in November – February if you have flexibility.
Things to do in Vientiane
Buddha Park (Wat Xieng Khouane Luang)
I’ll start with something that we didn’t actually do, but would’ve been on our list had we stayed a full day. You can do a morning trip out to the Buddha Park (Wat Xieng Khouane Luang). It’s about a 30-minute drive outside of the city, so you’d need to rent a motorbike or get a cab.
Vientiane Night Market
Sadly, we more or less missed out on this having arrived just a bit too late. But it’s held in a nice riverside park and looked like perhaps a smaller version of the night market in Luang Prabang.
For a capital city, Vientiane isn’t that large. We covered a good chunk on foot in just one morning. From our hotel, we walked over to Wat Sisaket then to That Dam Stupa, saw the Patuxay – Victory Monument from a distance, and circled back to the Presidential Palace and finished with a sweaty stroll along the Mekong River with Thailand eyeing us from across the way.
Restaurants in Vientiane
Given our brief stay in Vientiane, we only stopped at one restaurant. And I can recommend it! It was Khop Chai Deu, just across the street from our hotel with a lovely rooftop patio to give us a little view of Vientiane with our dinner. Plus, it allowed me to have one final meal with sticky rice, Laotian manna from heaven, if you haven’t already heard
Hotels in Vientiane
We stayed at the Bloom Hotel and Cafe in the heart of Vientiane alongside a handful of other hotels at Wat Mixai. Granted the stay was brief, but it was a lovely, comfortable end to our stay in Laos compared to the bare-bones spot we stayed at in Vang Vieng. Plus your breakfast is served in a coffee shop downstairs, and I’m a big fan when hotels do that so you at least feel like you’re eating out and not just swapping breakfast germs with other travelers.