When in Laos: Two Days in Vientiane

While some travelers tend to skip Vientiane to spend more time in the provinces of Laos, there are a few interesting places that also deserve to be mentioned and visited here. Spending two full days in the capital may be good to start a memorable trip to Laos.

Going around Vientiane is easy. For one, the street signs are very reliable. Also, the Lao people are very friendly. Although some of them do not speak English, they always try their best to give directions. As general tip, Lan Xang Avenue may serve as a good reference point in the city center. It is where most tourist attractions are at.

Day 1: Patuxai Monument - Presidential Palace - Sisaket Temple

Patuxai Monument





This is a memorial for all who fought against the French colonizers that eventually led to the independence of Laos from France. Its architecture is notable as it resembles the Arc de Triomphe in Paris that was designed by a Laotian architect. The structure is made up five small towers, which are symbolic representations of the five principles in Buddhism.

You can enjoy a 360-degree view of the capital at the top of Patuxai Monument. There is an entrance fee of 3,000 kip (0.37 USD) to climb. Payments are collected in either left or right staircase.
Along the way, there are a lot of souvenir items in almost every floor. But I find them more expensive than in other shops around Vientiane.
I visited Laos in November, a month that is usually cold season already in Southeast Asia. And so I was surprised that it was hot and humid at that time in Vientiane. Visiting Patuxai Monument would be good in the afternoon to avoid the heat. 

Presidential Palace

At the other end of Lan Xang Avenue is the Presidential Palace. To get here, you may either walk for 20-30 minutes from Patuxai Monument or simply take a tuktuk.

Although not open to public, a stopover here may be enough to take a few photos.
The president of Laos does not live in this palace (he lives outside the capital in Ban Phonthan), but it holds all important ceremonies and events of the government.

Sisaket Temple


Wat Si Saket or Sisaket Temple is one of the oldest temples in Vientiane. It is distinctly known for the striking and yellowish color of the pillars.
Several bronze and stone Buddhas can be seen around. Most locals go here in the morning to pray. It is open from 08:00AM to 06:00PM.

Day 2: Pha That Luang - Mekong River - Chao Anouvong Park

Pha That Luang

This golden stupa is considered as a national symbol of Laos. Also, it is one of the most visited Buddhist structures. Located in Ban Nongbone, going there may require a 30-minute tuktuk ride coming from the city center.


Aside from the stupa, there are other interesting sights to see in the compound. To know more about these, I wrote a separate entry about my visit to Pha That Luang here.

Mekong River

What is good about Vientiane is that despite being a city, it seems like it is a suburb when you reach the riverside. If you have been around Southeast Asia, you probably heard of Mekong River already, a long river that flows to Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam, Myanmar and of course Laos.

Not that far from Mekong River is a stretch of riverside bars and restaurants that mostly open in the afternoon until nighttime. There are also a number of hotels and guesthouses in the area.

Chao Anouvong Park

Next to Mekong River is this small park called Chao Anouvong Park. It is a tribute to Chao Anouvong, Laos’ last king from the Lan Xang Kingdom. The park features his huge bronze statue.
There is a small stream on the side. It is surrounded by a few trees and plants. A quick stop is not too much to spare to relax for a while especially during a dry cloudless season.



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