Kaysone Phomvihane Memorial

Top choice

Museum

in Vientiane

The former home of Kaysone Phomvihane, the first leader of an independent Laos, has been made into this quirky but worthwhile museum.

The house is inside the former USAID/CIA compound, known as 'Six Klicks City' because of its location 6km from central Vientiane. It once featured bars, restaurants, tennis courts, swimming pools, a commissary and assorted offices from where the Secret War was orchestrated. During the 1975 takeover of Vientiane, Pathet Lao forces ejected the Americans and occupied the compound. Kaysone lived here until his death in 1992.

Today, the house includes Kaysone's half-empty bottles of scotch, tacky souvenirs from the Eastern bloc, running shoes, notepads and original Kelvinator air-conditioners. Even the winter coats he wore on visits to Moscow remain neatly hanging in the wardrobe. A Lao People's Revolutionary Party (LPRP) guide will show you through the house, making for a remarkably good-value experience.

Kaysone's house can be tricky to find, so it's easiest to backtrack from the nearby Kaysone Phomvihane Museum. Head back towards the city centre and turn right at the first set of traffic lights, continuing about 1km until you see the sign on your right that says 'Mémorial du Président Kaysone Phomvihane'. Alternatively, a tuk-tuk will cost around 40,000K from the centre.