My experience of Vientiane

IMG_20150618_135820Lao isn’t necessarily a holiday destination but many travellers explore the country as part of a South East Asia trip as it is on the border of Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. I am one of those people who have wanted to explore Lao since coming to Thailand 4 years ago. I’ve heard numerous recommendation about Lao being a must-see country.

Due to unforeseen circumstances, I’ve had the pleasure of getting a taste of Lao earlier than planned. However, Vientiane, the capital was completely different to my original thoughts. I expected it to be similar to other Asia capitals I’ve been to: huge, crowds of people, tourist scouting around, traffic jams, lots of pollution.

Situated on the river Mekong, Vientiane is a small city, which over looks on Thailand. With lots of one way roads and not much traffic, it is a place with few tourist attractions, a quiet nightlife and many locals finding a way to make money. I find in most capitals, there are many chain restaurants and shop but the only western place, I have found is Dairy Queen, with extortionate prices of ice-cream (well compared to Bangkok).

For those wanting to visit Vientiane, a few days would be enough. From what I’ve heard there are many beautiful places in Lao but from my experience Vientiane is not one of these. Don’t get me wrong, I completely adore the view of the Mekong river, especially sitting on  a rooftop bar with a beer Lao.

I have discovered after searching here in Vientiane, food is similar price to Bangkok, if you find the budget hidden restaurants. Alcohol is extremely cheap in bars and from a minimart. I have drank a large bottle of Beer Lao in a bar for 10000 kip (roughly 40baht or 80p) and you can buy a big bottle of Lao Lao (rice wine) for 8000 kip (35 baht or 70p). That is ridiculously cheap. Every tourist attraction had an entrance fee but is not too high. Hiring a motorbike and petrol is more expensive in comparison to Thailand. Depending on the hostel or guesthouse, accommodation can vary but it’s again generally cheaper than Thailand.

Personally, I have found that lao people are not as friendly or accommodating as Thais and at night time, it feels more dangerous with Lady boys finding their next victim, gangs hanging out of street corners and tuk tuk driver completely ripping of foreigners.

I don’t know if this is just the capital, but I can’t wait to explore the rest of the country later on in the year.


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