Where would you like to go with Indochina Pioneer?
Please click on the countries below to read more about your desired destinations in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. These pages provide first-hand local travel information regarding transportation, accommodation, attractions, food & drink, entertainment ... together with some suggestions on ready-made tours to and from those places.
Ho Chi Minh City, also known as Saigon, is frenetic Asian city of markets, street clogged with scooters, street side food stalls, as well as foreig…
The name Nha Trang is a Vietnamese pronunciation of a Cham word Eatran or Yjatan. Ea or Yja means river, and tran means reed. According to the loca…
This is one of the best laid-back getaways in Vietnam. The town of Phan Thiet itself is a bustling little fishing port -- quite picturesque and goo…
120km (75 miles) W (over sea) from Rach Gia (Rach Gia is 250km/155 miles S of Saigon by road). The same size as Singapore, the island of Phu Quoc l…
Hanoi is relatively small and runs at quite an unhurried pace for a capital city. Resting in the Red River delta region, the centre is a mixed of t…
Taking a cruise on Ha Long Bay -- or the Bay of the Descending Dragon -- for many represents the pinnacle of their experience in Vietnam. eas…
The ancient town of Hoi An is located 30 km south of Da Nang on the banks of the Thu Bon River. Occupied by early western traders, Hoi An was one o…
Siem Reap Siem Reap is a cluster of villages with a French colonial centre, and the gateway to the Temples of Angkor. These majestic temples in…
A small market town that has been a gathering spot for many local hilltribes for nearly 200 years. Hmong and Dao people, among others, still come h…
Vietiane With a troubled recent history, Laos has only recently openned to the outsite world and is one of the most untouched countries in Asi…
Set on the banks of the Perfume River, Hue was the capital of Vietnam between 1802 and 1945 under the Nguyen Emperors, and later French colon…
The fourth-largest city in Vietnam, is one of the most important seaports in the central region, and the current booming Vietnamese economy has see…
Located 173 kilometres from Saigon, Can Tho is considered as the heart of Vietnam's Mekong Delta. The city, regarded as "Western cap…
Known as "Le Petit Paris" by the early builders and residents of this hillside resort town, Dalat is still a luxury retreat for city dwel…
Vang Vieng is a tourism-oriented town in Laos, located in Vientiane Province about four hours bus ride north of the capital. The town lies on the N…
Luang Prabang Luang Prabang is regarded by many as the most attactive cities (or town would be more accurate description) in Asia, if not the …
Setting in a green valley, Mai Chau is a wonderful collection of farms, villages and stilt houses surrounded by verdant rice paddies against a back…
Located at one of the many branches of the Mekong river and about Vinh Long is the gateway to river islands and some worthwhile sites, includ…
Extremely mountainous, Dien Bien is one of the newest provinces in Vietnam, having been split off from Lai Chau further to the north. The province …
Phong Nha - Ke Bang is a national park and UNESCO World Heritage Site which is noted for its cave and grotto systems as it is composed of 300 caves…
Phom Penh Cambodia’s capital city is awakening from a turbulent recent past to become a busy and fernetic Asian city of Southeast Asia. …
Situated 250 km west of Ho Chi Minh City, Chau Doc is a district and town in An Giang province, bordering Cambodia, in the Mekong Delta region of V…
The tunnels of Củ Chi are an immense network of connecting underground tunnels situated in the Củ Chi district of Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Vi…
Built on both sides of Highway 1 and the railroad connecting Hanoi with Ho Chi Minh City, Ninh Binh is a fairly uneventful place with only a few mi…
Sihanoukville is all about the ocean, located on the Gulf of Thailand. The pristine beaches, the sparkling clear water, the cooling sea breeze, the…
With a troubled recent history, Laos has only recently openned to the outsite world and is one of the most untouched countries in Asia. Vietiane, resting on the banks of the Mekong River, is Laos laid back capital city. It is one of the smallest capitals in the world, with mixture of omate temples, faded colonial French architecturem ,markets abd small cafes lying on the banks of the sweeping Mekong.
Compared to the hectic, bustling capitals in other Southeast Asia countries, Vientiane's deliciously relaxing atmosphere makes it feel like the small town it is. After you've done the round of temples, the best thing to do here has always been to wander down to one of the riverside beer gardens, kick back with a cold Beerlao - the Lao national beer - and watch the sun set over the Mekong. However, a long stretch of the Mekong river bank is presently a construction site as the authorities are building a flood management levee system and a riverside park. The project is the result of a grant from the government of South Korea.
When to go: Set at the centre of the country, Vientiane gets a very predictable wet and dry monsoon climate. The dry season commences between late October and early November and runs through till the rains break the heat some time in May. Both April and May can be excruciatingly hot, with the rain that finally comes a welcome relief. In the wet season, August and September see the most rain, but it is rarely an all-day torrential affair; instead you can expect short, heavy downpours spread throughout the day.
Pimai Lao (Lao New Year): This three-day festival (in some places it can run for five) celebrates Lao New Year and is characterised by water and powder throwing, baci ceremonies and Lao hospitality at its best. It's a fun festival, particularly in Luang Prabang, but rooms fill up fast -- a reservation is a very good idea. Celebrated across the country April 14-16.
Rocket festival: While not a scratch on the mayhem you'll see in Thailand, this rain-making festival in May or June (the date varies each year) is known for its large non-NASA-certified home-made rockets which are, usually and hopefully, shot skywards. A must for any budding rocket engineer.
Ok Phansa: Held on the full moon at the end of Buddhist Lent (October). Look for candle-lit processions, boat races and much revelry. Celebrated across the country.
That Luang Festival: While this week-long November festival is celebrated across Laos, the epicentre is That Luang in Vientiane. People in their thousands pay homage at wats, make merit and give alms. Boat races, fireworks and general revelry continue the fun.
The best time to visit Vientiane is between November and February. This is after the end of the wet season, but before things begin to really heat up in March. Vientiane is at its busiest in December and January, but outside of Pimai Lao (Lao New Year), you should always be able to find a room.
Banking: The main concentration of banks is on Lane Xang Avenue leading up from the Mekong River. Most will change cash and travellers cheques. ATMs that display the Visa and MasterCard signs are usually reserved for Lao-issued cards. The BCEL does have an international ATM on Pangkham Rd where you can use your ATM card from home or Visa or MasterCard credit cards for cash advances. Keep in mind that with BCEL, the maximum withdrawal is 700,000 kip per transaction plus a 20,000 kip fee for using the ATM. A better option is Joint Development Bank on Samsenthai Rd (close to Lao Plaza Hotel), where you can withdraw up to 1,000,000 kip with no fees, except those imposed by your own bank, of course. An attached exchange booth makes for easy conversion.
Just as handy and usually a lot quicker are the exchange booths around town. The BCEL operates one on the corner of Pangkham and Fa Ngum Rds and there's another on Hengboun Rd next to the Lao Hotel. The BCEL is open Mon-Fri from 8:30 to19:00 and weekends from 08:30 to 15:30.
Though other destinations in Laos are becoming less reliant on the miserable US dollar, it still seems the preferred form of currency in Vientiane and those attempting to pay in kip are penalised at some establishments. To further confuse the situation, ATMs only distribute kip -- which most banks at home will charge a service fee for the conversion to -- and then you're nicked again when you change your kip to dollars. Even with all the extra fees, the conversion is often still a better bet than paying in kip.
Post office: The central post office is opposite the south side of the day market on Khou Viang Rd. Office hours are Monday to Friday 08:00 to 17:00, Saturday 08:00 to 16:00 and Sunday 08:00 to 12:00.
Emergency: For minor ailments stop at one of the many pharmacies, which are open daily and well stocked with medicine, though be sure to check the expiry date. For serious problems, consider the Mahosot Hospital, T: (021) 214 023-4, or the International Clinic, T: (021) 214 022. Both are by Mahosot Rd and are open 24 hours. If you're concerned about a serious condition or your insurance doesn't cover health care in Laos, head to either AEK Hospital (http://www.aekudon.com) in Udon Thani, T: (+66 42) 342 555, F:(+66 42) 341 033 or Bangkok.
Police: In an emergency the police can be contacted on 191. There is also a tourist police office next to the Tourist Information Centre on Lane Xang Avenue, T: (021) 251 128.
Vehicle rental: Handpainted signs for motor bike rental call to pedestrians all along the city's footpaths. A dozen local shops lease older model bikes for about 60,000 kip per day and newer models for about 80,000 kip per day. For a more stylish ride, try Jule's Classic Rental at Phimphone Market. You'll pay more ($20 per day) but have your pick of sleek rides with a showroom shine and the peace of mind that comes with the included third party insurance. Even if you don't decide to rent, the market is worth a look as they stock many hard-to-find items and a delicious variety of cheeses -- it's a perfect spot to pick up fixings for a picnic.
When it comes to car rental, many guesthouses and travel agencies can make arrangements for you. For the most choices however, head to the well established Asia Vehicle Rental. AVR boasts the largest fleet of rental vehicles in town, which allows them to accommodate almost any request, from short and long term car and truck rental to airport limousine service and guided international excursions.
Jule's Classic Rental: Phimphone Market, Setthathirath Rd, Vientiane. T: (020) 760 0813.
Asia Vehicle Rental: 354-356 Samsenthai Rd, Vientiane. T: (021) 217 493, (021) 223 867. http://email@example.com
Books: Vientiane is getting a lot better than in terms of English-language books on offer, but choices of titles are still quite limited. Kosila have two shops, one at the bottom of Nokeo Koummane and another just before the That Dam stupa. Both have a reasonable collection of secondhand titles but nothing too inspired. Monument Books on Nokeo Koummane (next to the Vayakorn Guesthouse) has a good selection of Lao titles covering culture, history and cooking (all in English). They are also a good source for maps of Laos and neighbouring countries. A lot of magazines are also available but not too many English novels. Vientiane Book Centre on Pangkham Road (just up from the BCEL exchange booth) has a reasonable collection of secondhand titles as well as cards and postcards. A final shop is Book – Café which buys and sells titles and will trade two-for-one. They have a great selection of books in many languages. Some guesthouses also offer book loans and the exchange service at the Full Moon Cafe on Francois Nginn Road is the best in town.
Book - Cafe: 053/2 Heng Boun Rd, Vientiane. T: (020) 6893 741. Open daily: 09:00-19:00.
Kosila: Nokeo Koummane and That Dam stupa circle, Vientiane. T: (020) 2240 964 Open: Mon-Sat 09:00-19:00.
Monument Books: Nokeo Koummane, Vientiane. T: (021) 243 708. Open: Mon-Fri 09:00-20:00, Sat & Sun 09:00-18:00.
Vientiane Book Centre: 54/1 Pangkham Rd, Vientiane. T: (021) 212 031. Open: Mon-Fri 08:30-17:30, Sat 09:00-16:00, closed Sun.
Internet and telecommunications: Internet cafes are all over the city and some of the guesthouses are also getting in on the act, offering one or two terminals in their reception areas. Speed and reliability are usually excellent and prices are between 100 and 200 kip per minute. If you're travelling with a laptop, WiFi services are available at Joma cafe on Setthatilath Rd for 25,000 kip per hour, or for free with purchase at Vista Wi-Fi Cafe on Francois Nginn Rd.
Places to see
Vientiane is best viewed as a comfortable transit point for other places in Laos, or as a recuperative stop on the way out. It's a pleasant enough place, but generally, there is little reason to spend more than a couple of days here.
Lao National Museum (Revolutionary Museum), Thanon Samsenthai (next to Lao Plaza Hotel). Formerly the Lao Revolutionary Museum by name, the historical exhibits on the first floor are modest though very interesting in depicting some of the early history. They include one of the original Jars from the Plain of Jars and various stone and bronze age implements. The second floor provides us with a great insight into the 18th Century Laotian Kingdom and the customs of the day. It would appear that the Loatians didn't treat their guests quite as well in those days, often keeping them from leaving the country for several months. The floor builds up to a fervently revolutionary pitch as it documents the heroic struggle of the Lao against the Siamese (Thai), French and American 'imperialists'. Exhibits include items such as socks worn by Politburo members when they escaped from prison and Kaysone Phomvihane's chest expander. The final rooms, on post-revolutionary Laos, are mostly a photo gallery of pressing topics such as the comrades of the 7th Plenary Session of the Laos People's Congress inspecting fertilizer production processes. The final rooms provide an insight into some of the modern advancements, though these are fairly dowdy and uninspiring.
Patuxai, the Victory Gate: A local rendition of Paris' Arc de Triomphe. Besides the elaborate Buddhist embellishment, it differs from the original in having four gates instead of two and being just a bit higher (to spite the French). Reasonably impressive from afar, a surprisingly frank English sign inside the monument labels it a "monster of concrete" when seen up close - and the concrete in question was donated by the US, although it was supposed to go towards a new airport instead (hence the nickname "the Vertical Runway". The monument itself aside, the palm tree-lined park around it complete with fountains is quite pleasant though lacking of shade during the day time, and for three thousand kip you can climb up to the 7th story (stairs only) for a nice view of downtown Vientiane and two souvenir shops with less than enthusiastic sales people sitting about. Features a musical fountain nearby that attracts visitors from around Laos and Asia, as well as a World Peace gong presented by Indonesia.
COPE Visitor Centre: Ku Wieng Road (Waterpark near Green Park Hotel), . 09:00-18:00. Explains Laos' legacy of unexploded ordnance (UXO) and the National Rehabilitation Centre's efforts to expand prosthetic services across the country. There are a number of hands-on exhibits and visitors can watch a number of short films on the subject. Exhibits are appropriate for all ages. An excellent gift shop offers fun, off-beat souvenirs that support a good cause. Free parking (do not confuse with the paid parking lot). Free. (17.96127,102.61789) edit
Temples and Stupas: Some temples (indicated below) charge an entry fee of 2,000/5,000K for Lao nationals and foreigners and are open 8AM-4PM, with a Noon-1PM lunch break. The monks of those that don’t charge a fee will be grateful for a small donation in the box.
Wat Si Saket: The oldest standing temple in Vientiane, now signposted as Sisaket Museum. Entrance fee. Corner of Thanon Lane Xang and Thanon Setthathirat. Probably the oldest standing temple in Vientiane and among the most atmospheric. Built in 1818 by Chao Anou in the Bangkok style and hence left unsacked when much of Vientiane was razed in a Siamese raid in 1828. Within the cloister walls are hundreds of niches housing Buddha images large and small, made of wood, stone, silver and bronze. In the center of the courtyard is a five-tier-roofed sim (ordination hall) housing yet more Buddha niches and beautiful but fading murals of the Buddha's past lives. hands-down "calling for rain" pose.
Pha That Luang: Entrance fee. Thanon That Luang (2 km east from Patuxai). The national symbol and most important religious monument of the country, That Luang is a three-layered gilded stupa. The current version dates from 1566, although it has been ransacked and renovated numerous times since then. Closed Mondays. You have to pay a few thousand kip to access the inner courtyard, which gives you a slightly closer view of the stupa, and lots of Buddha statues.
Vientiane's most important festival, Bun That Luang, is held here in November on the night of the full moon.
There are two temples beside That Luang: Wat That Luang Neua to the north(ish) and Wat That Luang Tai to the south(ish), both presently being renovated.
Wat Si Muang: Between Thanons Setthatirat and Samsenthai, about 1km east of the center. Despite its small size, the temple is very active and houses the city pillar. Followers believe that lifting the small buddha statue 3 times from its cushion means that your prayers or questions will be answered.
Wats Onteu: Inpeng, Mixay and Haisok are along Thanon Setthatirat right in the town center, and therefore the most likely temples to be visited by travelers.
Buddha Park: (Xieng Khuan) is a bizarre outdoor collection of huge concrete sculptures of Buddhist and Hindu deities and real and imaginary beasts. The reclining Buddha is especially impressive. Built in 1958 by mystic Luang Pu Bunleua Sulilat, who left the country after the communist take-over and, in 1978, went on to establish a nearly identical park (Sala Keoku or Sala Kaew Ku) across the river in Nong Khai, Thailand.
Vientiane - near the river: Despite the city being right on the river, few of the guesthouses and hotels are. There are the inexpensive guesthouses and hotels that are either right on the river or within a block of it.
Vientiane - near the river (Upmarket): Despite the city being right on the river, few of the guesthouses and hotels are. Therre are the upmarket hotels that are either right on the river or within a block of it.
Central Vientiane: This covers the area within a short walk of the Nam Phou fountain, so everything west of the Presidential Palace and between the river and Samsenthai Rd.
Greater Vientiane: This covers all guesthouses and hotels that are a bit more of a wander from the centre of town.
Vientiane is generally easy, as the traffic is far less murderous than in larger Southeast Asian cities like Bangkok or Ho Chi Minh City. Street signage is, however, rather lacking though in the center more and more signs are appearing. Where there are signs displaying street names these are bilingual Lao and French. The Lao word "thanon" on these signs is translated by "rue", "avenue" or "boulevard", in many cases without any apparent logic. Therefore the Lao word "thanon" is used throughout this article.
By taxi: Vientiane has a small fleet of genuine taxis retired from Bangkok, usually found lurking at the Friendship Bridge, the airport or in front of large hotels. Fares are set by bargaining, so figure depending on car type and distance.
By tuk-tuk or jumbo - A typical jumbo (tuk-tuk), in VientianeTuk-tuks and their bigger cousins jumbos are ubiquitous in Vientiane. To charter a tuk-tuk/jumbo, agree on the fare in advance (do not pay more than 40K Kip per hour); short hops within the city shouldn't cost more than 10,000 kip per person, although as a tourist you may have difficulty bargaining to less than that. All the tuk-tuk drivers carry a fare card for popular destinations but these fares are ridiculously inflated. Do not pay these bogus, published fares. Walking away can make the fare drop quickly. Also do not insult them with ridiculous offers such as 10,000 Kip for four people no matter how short the distance. Share jumbos running on set routes, eg. Th Lan Xang to Pha That Luang, charge a fixed 10,000 Kip. Tuk-tuks lined in front the Mekong bank restaurants or other busy areas will try to charge you 30-50K even for short trips. It's not worth trying to bargain as they won't go anywhere with a normal (10K) fare. Walk a few blocks and you can cut a deal much closer to the local price.
By bus: Rattly old blue-and-white buses and newer white minibuses connect the center to the suburban districts, but they are not equipped with air-con and have no signage in English, although route numbers are usually (not always) posted on the front. The bus to Wattay International Airport goes near the airport but not quite into it.
By bike: Bicycles are perhaps the best way to get around the city. Most guest houses and hotels can arrange bike. Although the city's flat terrain makes for good biking, one-way streets can be difficult to identify. You can usually choose to leave your passport, your driver's license, about 1,000 baht, or a comparable amount of kip or dollars as a deposit.
Despite the poor standard of local driving, cycling is fairly safe in the city because the traffic is quite slow (maybe because of the condition of the roads). But take extra care when the roads are wet, because many are unsurfaced (even in the city center), and they can be muddy and slippery - innocent-looking puddles sometimes conceal deep potholes.
On foot: The city center can be quite comfortably covered on foot, at least in the cool season. Pha That Luang, however, is 4 km away from the center and thus a bit of a hike. Out of the city center there are few footpaths so walking can be uncomfortable.
By Car: Take your free to discover the city by car, you can indepently drive yourself whenever and wherever you want.but be careful with local driving. In Laos there are alot of car rental company, but if you are looking for a international standard & Service, you can try Europcar(Asia Vehicle rental), located on Samsenthai Road. just only 5 minutes from Namphu fountain.
Shop to ya drop!!
Above all, silk and cotton weavings are for sale in the Morning Market and in many shops along Thanons Setthathirat and Samsenthai, and in several of their side roads. In the Morning Market you should bargain; in the other shops you may try to get a discount but don't count on it. Some of the better shops are:
Mixay Boutic (yes, that's how they write it) in Thanon Nokeo Kumman (with a branch in Thanon Setthathirat) - they have some women weaving fabrics of the shop's own design on the premises, who you are welcome to watch. Beautiful wall hangings, not the cheapest in town but well worth the price. Also on sale are shirts and skirts, scarves, cushion covers and anything made of textiles.
Laha Boutique: Thanon Francois Ngin: naturally dyed textiles (mainly cotton) from the south (Savannakhet).
Kanchana: the Beauty of Lao Silk: traditional Lao silk weavings, hand-woven fabrics, textiles and clothing using natural dyes. Just off Thanon Samsenthai on Thanon Chantha Kumman, the road to That Dam.
Lao Textiles: Thanon Nokeo Kumman. Founded 1990 by an American woman (Carol Cassidy), who now employs some 40 artisans, this firm offers modern cotton weavings using traditional motifs and- some of their work has been exhibited in international museums. Prices reflect this but if you can afford them you will get something to be proud of and of the very highest quality. Not the usual backpacker's souvenirs.
The Art of Silk: Thanon Manthatulat, run by the Lao Women's Union. Silk and cotton weavings in both traditional and modern designs.
Mulberries Lao Sericulture Company, Thanon Nokeo Kumman. The sales outlet of a not-for-profit organisation that operates in about five hundred villages in Northern Laos, seeking to create income generating opportunities. Naturally-dyed, handmade Lao silk products.
Food and Drinks
A selection of more "sophisticated" eateries follows:
Along the river: dozens of unpretentious restaurants and beer gardens, from opposite the BCEL bank strung along the Mekong for approximately 2km upriver (those upstream from the main beach promenade are generally cheaper). All are pleasant places for a beer and a snack or a complete meal while the sun goes down over the river. One of these is one-time famous John's Restaurant, but since the owner married an Australian and left for down under there is nothing to distinguish it from the other places left and right. All serve inexpensive (but not really cheap for Laos - in fact, the prices for most foods are much like in Thailand) Lao, Thai and some Western food. Among the best is the grilled fish, served by many of them. Take care when you're in for boiled eggs: what you get here are incubated duck eggs. When you open them you're in for a surprise (but at least the little bird does not chirp).
Sunset Bar: (Sala Sunset) at the very western end of the Mekong river road. Popular with expats and tourists. The main things to recommend it are the sunsets (and those are not of their doing) and the rickety construction of wood apparently salvaged from demolished buildings. When the river is really high parts of the terrace sometimes wash away. Truly romantic! The beer is cold and whiling away an hour or so under the tree canopy with a bottle or two and some snacks can be very relaxing indeed. 100% falang now. Similar offerings exist along the same road.
Nazim Indian Restaurant: on the Mekong river road: decent Indian food. Their washroom is not the cleanest in the country, perhaps because the patrons of some of the eateries on the river bank are directed here for certain needs (when they are not simply sent down to the reeds at the water's edge). Nazim has opened a branch in Thanon Pang Kham, opposite the offices of Lao Airlines. (No reports on their washroom yet). At least 4 other Indian restaurants in the city centre, all quite equivalent.
Lao Garden: 2km East on Tha Deua Road. For decent Lao, Thai and Western food in a charming environment, this is the place. Very popular with locals and with a great view of the Mekong. Mains cost between 30,000 - 100,000K ($4-$12). The fried fish laap is excellent. Often offers live music in the evenings. Meena nightclub opposite is a fun place to dance the night away with local Lao youth after dinner.
Café des Arts: in Thanon Hengboun, near the Cultural Hall, . Excellent home made pasta (try the noodles al pesto!) and pizzas (around $6 - $7), as well as a good selection of wines, also by the glass.
Le Provençal at Nam Phu (the Fountain) - French fare, excellent pizzas but the steaks sometimes leave much to the imagination. Main courses from about 4 to 10 USD.
The Pizza Company/Swensen's: Next to the National Culture Hall on Samsenthai Road, is the first international fast food chain to open in Laos. It features a similar menu to its Thai parent operation, though prices are 10-15% higher, since practically everything is imported from Thailand.
Inter Hotel Restaurant - Quai Fa Ngum, riverside, well prepared Szechuan food, about 3 USD/dish. The hotel also runs the Inter Stone House in the same building round the corner; about the same or a slightly higher price range. Western and Thai/Lao food; their specialty is the sizzling steak on a stone platter, which however is not recommended (rather leathery meat with maltreated french fries and tasteless vegs).
Le Croissant d'Or and Banneton Café: Almost next to each other in Thanon Nokeo Kumman (running from the river to Thanon Setthathirat) have croissants and pastries and serve simple lunches. Banneton sells the best baguettes in town - tasty, not just something to chew. Their coffee is among the best in Vientiane, on a par with that at JoMa. The owners of Le Croissant d'Or also run the Vista café in Thanon François Ngin (free wifi internet when you spend 30,000 kip on food and drink).
Sticky Fingers - Thanon François Ngin opposite the Tai Pan Hotel. Quality western style food at reasonable prices. Good selection of vegetarian options. There's happy hour on Wednesday and Friday nights, including half price cocktails. Closed Mondays.
Full Moon Café: Almost next to Sticky Fingers, nice interior with comfortable seating arrangements. Serves what they call fusion fare. Reasonable prices. As in some other Vientiane restaurants, the kitchen crew may loose track of their priorities when more than just a few guests have placed orders.
Via Via Opposite Riverside Hotel: On Thanon Nokeo Kumman. Excellent wood-fired Italian style pizza and homemade pastas (From US 4-8). Good selection of Belgian beers.
La Terrasse, Thanon Nokeo Kumman: A popular place with expats and tourists alike. It is one of the best French restaurants in Vientiane (very good pizzas, and excellent tender steaks at about 5 US$). Set three-course lunch is 5.50 USD, main dishes up to 10 USD. Closed Sundays.
The restaurant in the Lane Xang Hotel on Thanon Fa Ngum has traditional Lao music and dance performances every evening from about 7PM, which you watch while eating your dinner of (recommended) Lao food. Get there early to secure a table with a good view of the stage. A meal for four, consisting of 5 or 6 dishes including drinks, will come at about 30 USD.
The Spirit House on that tree-shaded part of the river promenade that has not yet been "upgraded" to Lao-style sterile banality like the stretch downriver (there are plans for it, but fortunately the money seems to have run out). It is about 0.3km upstream from the end of the paved portion of the road. An excellent cocktail bar, it also offers a full breakfast, lunch and dinner menu with competent and friendly service. Every evening there is 25% off all cocktails and a view of the sun setting on the mekong. Watch the waiters jump the puddles in the rainy season when you've chosen to sit outside on the terrace across the potholed road.
Nam Phou: The first and arguably the best of the restaurants around the Fountain (Nam Phu), with good food and exceptional service. A favourite of NGO types.
L'Opera: at the Fountain; good Italian food (but not quite comparable to what you get in the owner's home country). Good pizzas. Don't go there if you cannot stand opera music - it is played continuously in the background though not, fortunately, so loud that it drowns the conversation.
Le Central on Thanon Setthathirat: good western food, main courses at 8 to 15 USD.
Le Nadao: Opposite the Patuxai park, excellent classical French fare, main courses starting at 8 USD. Probably the best restauarnt in Vientiane and booking is recommended (tel: 021-213174).
La Belle Epoque: In the Settha Palace Hotel - excellent food in an atmosphere of colonial elegance. Main courses starting at 8 USD.
Nighlife and entertainment
Vientiane has a few bars/clubs, but there's no shortage of places for a quiet Beerlao. In particular, the Mekong shoreline is packed with near-identical but pleasant bamboo-and-thatch beer gardens offering cold beer and spicy snacks.
Bor Pen Nyang, Thanon Fa Ngum: (the river promenade. Breezy fourth-floor (no elevator) bar/restaurant which overlooks the Mekong. Travellers, locals, ex-pats, working girls, and ladyboys in seeming harmony. Claims the most extensive Fine Whisky Range in Laos and stocks a wide range of liquors. Special daily cocktail for 20.000 KIP. Pool & Snooker Tables on the 2nd Floor. At the back of the bar there is a winner stays/loser pays pool competition every night.
Martini Lounge: Thanon Nokeo Kummane, just a block from the Mekong and next door to Croissant d'Or Bakery. Opens at 6:00PM and closes well past the normal 11:30 curfew. Movies shown Monday-Wednesday 8:00PM. Thursdays are Salsa nights and most Fridays a DJ is spinning. Don't forget to checkout the chill'n second floor AND the Mango Martini. The place in Vientiane to find the most eclectic music mix.
Jazzy-Brick: Thanon Setthathirat nearly opposite Kop Chai Deu. The classiest and most expensive bar in town. The sign out front states "no shorts, no flip-flops allowed".
Samlo Pub: Thanon Setthathirat opposite Wat Onteu. It has long been one of only a few bars in town, and was packed every evening, especially between 11pm and 1am. Perhaps quieter now that there is more competition. Has pool table and shows sports, but the "background" music often drowns the TV commentary. Tends to stay open later than other bars listed here. Drinkers from Bor Pen Nyang often come here when it closes, then move on again to the Don Chan Palace night club once Samlo closes.
Khop Chai Deu: Thanon Setthathirat next to the fountain square. The name means "thank you very much". Popular with tourists, expats, and Lao hi-so type. OK food; mid-range prices; large selection of Western, Thai, and recently introduced classic Lao dishes. Great place to drink beer in the center of town.
Deja Vu: Next to L'Opera Restaurant on Nam Phu Square (Fountain), a very classy and cozy bar, owned and run by Japanese-speaking Lao owner. Great drinks. Approx. 50K kip per cocktail. Closed Sundays.
There are two clubs near the Novotel hotel:
DTech, in the hotel grounds. Mainly techno.
Future, just outside. 80s and 90s songs with a big video screen.
Meena: Across the street from Lao Garden restaurant. Popular with Lao teenagers.
Champa: Vietnamese owned NY style 'super' club. Place to go for loud techno music.
What is the Climate, Average Temperature/ Weather in Vientiane?
Whether you wish to travel to Vientiane, Laos (Latitude & Longitude: Altitude: 172 m or 564 ft) on holiday, business or vacation, are interested in buying property there or are looking to migrate the following Vientiane climate, temperature and weather information should prove helpful:
- The average temperature in Vientiane, Laos is 26.5 °C (80 °F).
- The average temperature range is 6 °C.
- The highest monthly average high temperature is 34 °C (93 °F) in April.
- The lowest monthly average low temperature is 17 °C (63 °F) in January & December.
- Vientiane's climate receives an average of 1714 mm (67.5 in) of rainfall per year, or 143 mm (5.6 in) per month.
- On average there are 111 days per year with more than 0.1 mm (0.004 in) of rainfall (precipitation) or 9 days with a quantity of rain, sleet, snow etc. per month.
- The driest weather is in December when an average of 1 mm (0.0 in) of rainfall (precipitation) occurrs across 0 days.
- The wettest weather is in September when an average of 399 mm (15.7 in) of rainfall (precipitation) occurrs across 15 days.
- The average annual relative humidity is 78.5% and average monthly relative humidity ranges from 69% in March & April to 87% in August.
- Average sunlight hours in Vientiane range between 4.0 hours per day in June and 8.2 hours per day in November.
- There are an average of 2420 hours of sunlight per year with an average of 6.6 hours of sunlight per day.
- There are an average of 0 days per year with frost in Vientiane and in January there are an average of 0 days with frost