What to See in Vientiane, Laos

Aktualisiert am: 10/03/2024

Have you ever heard of Vientiane? Neither did I really until I planned my trip to Laos. Probably for a good reason: Vientiane is simply much less spectacular than other big cities in Southeast Asia like Bangkok or Hanoi. On the other hand, that’s exactly what makes Vientiane so special: you just feel like you’re in a big village.

The skyline of Vientiane: The Don Chan Palace

There are actually no real skyscrapers in Vientiane. Quite unusual by Asian standards. With one exception: the Don Chan Palace – a 14-story hotel and architectural disaster, which does not fit at all into this tranquil city. By the way, the Don Chan Palace is also the highest building in Laos with 14 floors. Hard to believe, isn’t it? Actually, no building in Vientiane is allowed to be higher than the Patuxai Monument, one of the few prominent buildings in the city.

The only skyscraper in Vientiane, Lao
Welcome to my travel blog!

Hey, I’m Tatiana, a German-Brazilian living in Berlin & the author behind The Happy Jetlagger. I’ve been writing about my travels since 2014. In addition to my job as a flight attendant, this blog is my passion project!

Places of interest in Vientiane

Vientiane is really very manageable. But that also has advantages: Everything worth seeing is relatively close together, and you can see everything in a short time at your leisure without really getting lost – and there is still enough time to enjoy a fantastic Laos coffee in one of the many nice cafés in the old town of Vientiane or to try your way through the many food stalls at the night market on the riverbank.

You can find more inspiration for your Laos trip here

Patuxai Monument

The Patuxai Monument looks like the Lao version of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, but was built much later in the sixties. From the top you have the absolute best view over the city and overall the building is quite nice to look at with its many small details. Good time to visit is in the afternoon, when the light is beautiful in good weather. However, it is advisable to be there early, because the monument closes already at 5 pm.

Patuxai Monument, Vientiane, Lao

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That Luang – the golden landmark

The huge stupa of That Luang is the most important religious landmark in Laos. Big and golden – really impressive. You can’t get very close, but you really should have seen That Luang – the complex is huge and also offers some beautiful temples and buildings. The best way to get there is by bike, which can be rented anywhere in the city, this is the best way to get around the whole area.

Pha That Luang, Vientiane, Lao

That Dam – the forgotten stupa

That Dam is a large, old stupa – completely abandoned in the middle of a residential area. Around the square are some pubs – also a nice place for a little sightseeing break.

That Dam in Vientiane, Lao

What is the best way to get to Vientiane?

By bus

Intercity buses usually stop at the north and south bus stations (depending on whether you are coming from the north or south) outside the city center. These are really far away – depending on the traffic, you can spend three quarters of an hour on the tuk-tuk cab. However, private bus tour providers for tourists often take you right into the middle of the old town, where almost all of the city’s hotels are actually located. Inner-city buses stop at the central bus station (Talat Sao), also in the middle of the old town.

By train

Recently, there is also a train connection across the nearby border to Thailand.

By plane

Vientiane also has a fairly centrally located airport (VTE), just a few kilometers from downtown.

Airlines flying to Vientiane:
Lao Airlines
Thai Airways
China Eastern
Vietnam Airlines

There are always good offers, even at short notice, so it’s worth checking out sites like Momondo or Skyscanner – especially if you want to save yourself some bumpy Laotian bus rides.


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