What to Do and See in Vientiane, LaosAugust 2, 2011
Vientiane is the chilled out capital city of Laos. Laying along the banks of the Mekong River, this South East Asian city lacks the traffic and hubub of neighbouring Thailand's Bangkok and Vietnam's Hanoi. Whilst it may not be full of hustle-bustle; Vientiane is built on Lao traditional charm and many historic sights. Here are some worthy reasons for crossing the First Thai-Lao Friendship bridge and spending a few days in Vientiane.
Get your priorities right: arrive in Vientiane, drop off your backpack at a hostel, buy a large Beer Lao in a cafe along the Mekong River, and simply chill.
Sample the Lao cuisine. If you have just come from Thailand then your mouth will be watering at the sight of baguettes filled with fresh meat (a sign of the French influence on Laos). Sticky rice is a foundation to any Lao meal and this can be brought wrapped in bamboo (handy for long bus journeys). Other Lao classics are fish sauce and lemongrass: you better get used to them because they're in everything!
Marvel at the Buddhist temple of Wat Si Saket. Even if you have seen a lot of temples: this is one Wat worth taking the time to visit. This was originally built in 1818 and its highlight is the interior walls which contain over 2000 silver and ceramic images of Buddha. Outside the temple you can enjoy the shade among banana, coconut and mango trees.
Visit Vientiane's morning market which is known as Talat Sao. Here there is always another row of stalls popping up to explore. From handmade silk makeup bags to a new battery for your mobile: whether you are looking for something specific or just fancy a mooch you won't leave disappointed. Outside cafes sell iced coffee in so many flavours you may have trouble choosing! Go and explore the overflowing stalls, sample the steamy noodle soup and get ready for some Lao hospitality: it is all available in Vientiane.
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