10 Things to Do in Vientiane, Laos

10 things to do in vientiane laos

              Beautiful French-influenced architecture, Buddhist temples, and natural beauty make Vientiane a must-see stop on any tour of Laos.  Vientiane is usually just a stopover for tourist as they make their ways to other places in Laos, but make no mistake, this sleepy capital is more livable and navigable than other Southeast Asian cities.

What to Do in the City

Pha That Luang

pha that luang vientiane laos

              The great golden stupa is a national symbol of Laos both in national sovereignty and Buddhism.  This gold-covered Buddhist stupa is believed to contain a breastbone of the Buddha, which was placed in the original stupa in the 3rd century BC.  The current stupa was built in 1566 when the Lao capitol was moved to Vientiane and later went through restoration in the 1930’s.  

Cost: 10,000 LAK/1.11 USD

Patuxai Victory Monument

patuxai victory monument vientiane laos

              Patuxai Monument was built to commemorate those soldiers that died fighting for independence from France.  The monument resembles the Arc de Triomphe with a Laotian twist; not to mention double the gates and slightly taller.  It is said that it was built with concrete gifted by the United States to build an airport, but the Lao government had a different idea in mind.  

view patuxai victory monument vientiane laos

              The tower is ornate with paintings and carvings of both Hindu and Buddhist symbolism.   The four towers hold spiral staircases that will take you through three sections of souvenirs and artifacts until you reach the top.  From there you will have a great panoramic view of the central city and the gardens below.

Cost: 3,000 LAK/0.33 USD to climb to the top.

Buddha Park

buddha park vientiane laos

              If you are looking for something a little different than norm, then Buddha Park is where you should go.  Buddha Park, also known as Xieng Khuan, was designed and built in 1958 by Luang Pu Bunleua Sulilat.  The park is filled with over 200 concrete sculptures of Buddhas, Hindu gods, and other demons and mythological creatures.  Of particular note is the giant, three-floored sculpture of a pumpkin. The door to the pumpkin is found through the mouth of a mythological creature that sits at its base, and the floor levels represent Hell, Earth, and Heaven.  Atop the pumpkin you will be able to get a good view of all of the park.

statue buddha park vientiane laos

              Buddha Park is about 24 km southeast of the city center, so you will need some transportation to get there.  Local bus #14 will take you all of the way there for 8,000 LAK/0.89 USD.  I also recommend checking out the Lao Disabled Women’s Development Center which is nearby while your there.

Cost: 15,000 LAK/1.67 USD

Lao Disabled Women’s Development Center

lao disabled womens development center crafts vientiane laos

              The Lao Disabled Women’s Development Center is a non-profit organization that empowers women with disabilities by offering vocational training, employment, and support.  The center trains the women in an array of things from sewing to computers skills.  While at the center the women make products out of recycled newspapers and other materials that the center then sells to support itself.  

lao disabled womens development center sign vientiane laos

              The center is 18 km southeast of the city center, so you will need some transportation to get there.  Local bus #14 will take you all of the way there for 8,000 LAK/0.89 USD.  I also recommend checking out Buddha Park which is nearby while your there.

Cost: 50,000 LAK/5.56 USD for a tour.
          100,000 LAK/11.10 USD for a tour and handicraft class.
          80,000 LAK/8.89 USD for lunch.
          100,000 LAK/11.10 USD for a traditional Baci (Lao ceremony)

Ho Pha Kaew

ho pha kaew vientiane laos

              Ho Pha Kaew was originally built in 1565 as the royal family’s personal chapel and to house the sacred jade Emerald Buddha after it was stolen from the Siamese.  The Buddha statue was latter reclaimed in 1776 when the Siamese sacked Vientiane and can be seen at the temple of the same name in the Grand Palace in Bangkok.  The temple is a beautiful building in its own right and is now a museum that houses important Lao cultural treasures.

Cost: 10,000 LAK/1.11 USD

Wat Si Muang

wat si muang vientiane laos

              Wat Si Muang is one of the most beautiful temples in Vientiane and is home to Vientiane’s original city pillar.  It is said that a woman sacrificed herself to appease the gods by jumping in a hole where the pillar now stands.  Today the temple is known as a place that gives good luck. 

Wat Si Saket

buddha statues wat si saket vientiane laos

              Wat Si Saket is one of the more unique temples in Vientiane.  Famed for being the only temple to survive the Siamese attack, it is the only temple to still have its original form.  What makes it unique is the temple’s style of architecture; more Siamese than Lao.  The temple is also home to over 2,000 buddha statues that sit along the corridor and crevasses that surround the temple.  

Cost: 10,000 LAK/1.11 USD

Wat Ong Teu

wat ong teu vientiane laos

              The original temple was built in the mid-16th century over an early 3rd century site.  Like many of the other temples in Vientiane, it was destroyed in the Siamese attacks.  The temple today holds an important position as the national center of Buddhist studies.

That Dam

that dam vientiane laos

              That Dam means Black Stupa and this monument is said to house a seven-headed Naga serpent who protects the citizens of Vientiane. The brick stupa was once covered in gold, but according to legend, the Siamese took it when they invaded Vientiane in the 1820’s.

Night Market

night market vientiane laos

              Every night, the Chao Anouvong Park transforms into a bustling and vibrant night market, full of all the touristy stuff you’ve come to expect on Southeast Asian travels.  It’s a great place to get out in the evening and take a stroll even if you don’t plan to buy anything. 

Where to Eat

food laos

              Vientiane, like all capitals, has an array of national and international restaurants throughout the city.  But if your looking for the best experience, and cheap food, then along the river is your best bet.  Here you will find many little restaurants and beer gardens serving cheap Lao and Thai food. 

Where to Stay

              Like all capital cities, you can find a variety of hotels and hostels in every price range.  I recommend finding a place in the central city or near the night market to make it easier to see the different sights.  When booking my hotels, I always use Agoda to find the best hotel in my location and price range. 

How to Get Around

bus route vientiane laos
Vientiane bus route map.

              Vientiane is fairly small so walking or cycling is the best way to visit most of the sights.  If you prefer a bike, most hotels can arrange a rental for 10,000 LAK/1.11 USD.  For the sights that are further away, like Pha That Luang and Buddha Park, you might want to take the local buses.  Google Maps does a good job at helping you find the right bus. 

How to Get There


              If you are flying to Vientiane, I suggest using the Skyscanner widget below to book yourself a cheap ticket.

              If you fly into Vientiane, the airport is located 3.5km east of town and there is a bus to the Central Station for 15,000 LAK/1.67 USD.  Flights to Laos are not cheap though and a popular way to save money is to fly into Udon Thani, Thailand, and cross the border by bus from there. 


              The bus is the best option if you are already in Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, or Thailand.  The Southern Station (conversely located 11km northeast of the city center) services Southern Laos, Vietnam, and Cambodia.  You can then take the local bus #29 to the Central Station for 4,000 LAK/0.44 USD.  The Northern Station (located 8km northwest of the city center) services all locations in Northern Laos and China.  You can take bus #8 to the Central Station for 5,000 LAK/0.56 USD.  The Central Station services Vientiane and Thailand.  12GO is an easy way to book buses online.

Powered by 12Go Asia system


              There is an option to cross the border into Laos by train, but it by far the least convenient way of getting to Vientiane.   The rail line goes from Nong Khai, Thailand, to Thanaleng, Laos, where you can get a visa-on-arrival.  Thanaleng is in the middle of nowhere, about 20 km from Vientiane, with very few transportation options.  The train ride costs only 20 THB/0.63 USD, but then you will have to find a way to make the other 20 km yourself.  On the other hand, you can pay 300 THB/9.40 USD and have a minivan waiting take you into the capitol.  

              The silver lining is that if you want to take a train to Laos from Bangkok, Thailand, the train schedule is set up for you to take the overnight train to Nong Khai and still have enough time to buy your ticket to Laos.

vientiane laos map pin

What is your favorite place in Vientiane?

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