This delightfully friendly capital, studded with crumbling French mansions, bougainvillea-blooming streets and steaming noodle stalls, is somewhere between a big town and a diminutive city; the kind of place you might find a Graham Greene protagonist. Its conveniently compact travellers’ enclave is based around Nam Phu, the Mekong riverside and Setthariat and Samsenthai streets. Full of things to see, from Buddha Park to the Morning market and an impossibly rich selection of international cuisine – most pointedly French – you’ll find yourself slowly won over by the easy charms of this evolving backwater. The city may reveal its beauty less readily than Luang Prabang, but spend a few days visiting its unusual sights, sampling its excellent food and enjoying a Beer Lao at sunset by the river, and you’ll soon feel at home here.
Best places to stay in Vientiane
Laos - Vientiane & Around (Chapter)
This is the Vientiane & Around chapter from Lonely Planet's Laos guidebook.
7 days in Laos
Floating down serene rivers and coasting along country roads gawping at stunning countryside? Check. Poking your way around ancient temples filled with enigmatic, saffron-cloaked monks? Check.
Vientiane destination guides
Dining for a cause
Food for the body is good, but food for the soul is great. You have the opportunity to get both at these restaurants and cafés, which run vocational training programs for street kids. Good cause, good food, good idea.
Get ready for a fast-paced adventure through the best of Vietnam, Laos and northern Thailand. This is a region packed to the brim with rich cultures, fiery cuisines, unique customs and breathtaking countryside - and on this adventure you’ll be sampling all of them.
Laos & Thailand on a Shoestring
Wander the tranquil monasteries of Luang Prabang and experience the French colonial influence while sipping coffee at a café. Take 12 days to uncover this laid-back corner of South East Asia. While you're free to choose your own adventure, your accommodation and transportation are included and our expert CEOs will help you make the most of your time.
Lonely Planet: Roads Less Travelled Laos itinerary
Luang Prabang makes a wonderful introduction to Laos, and with increasing numbers of direct flights from Vientiane, Bangkok and other centres, more travellers are making this their starting point for an exploration of northern Laos.