A Quick Guide to 24 Hours in Vientiane

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“Vientiane is one of the most beautiful cities in the world” - said pretty much no one ever.

Ok, maybe we’re being a little harsh here, but if you're headed to Vientiane - the pleasant, albeit slightly boring capital of Laos - expecting a city full of stunning architecture, art and culture, prepared to be disappointed.

If, on the other hand, you're wanting to spend some time in a chilled out city nestled on a curve of the Mekong River where hassling tourists is a considered a hate crime (or so it seems), then you’ve found utopia!  

Admittedly, the city is home to many beautiful Wat’s dotted through the central district, which for the most part you’ll have to yourself. Tuk-tuk drivers will ask, almost hesitantly if you need a ride, not wanting to impose. The food is fantastic, ranging from local fare to cosmopolitan restaurants and cafes. And did we mention it’s pretty chill? There's really not much to do here but chill. So much chill. 

So, if you’re like us and you have 24 hours to spend in the city before venturing off again, follow our 24-hour guide to Vientiane, South East Asia’s most relaxed ‘capital’ city.

8am - Arrive

Arrive, by whichever way (plane, bus, boat), drop your bags off at your accommodation and start exploring.


10am - Pha That Luang

This is where Vientiane gets interesting. Catch a tuk-tuk to Pha That Luang, the mesmerising gold covered buddhist Stupa. It is said to have been built in the 3rd century, and is looking radiant for it's age! It also houses part of Buddha’s breastbone (yes, that Buddha), so if there is one thing you need to see in Vientiane, this is it.

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12pm - Patuxai Monument

On your tuk-tuk ride back into town, you’ll no doubt pass the Patuxai monument. Weirdly, despite its resemblance to Paris’ Arc de Triomphe, Patuxai was built to commemorate those who fought for independence against the French. The monument remains unfinished but is still beautiful and allows for great views of Vientiane from the viewing area.

Quickguides: 24 hours in Vientiane
Quickguides: 24 hours in Vientiane

1pm - Lunch

After all the walking around temples and monuments, you’re hungry, right? Then head into town via tuk-tuk and embrace the fresh and tasty local cuisine at Han Sam Euey Nong, on Chao Anou Rd. Tuck into the Lao version of Pho - it’s cheap, tasty and will fill you up for the afternoon's adventures.


2pm - Explore the Wats

Feeling templed out after the morning? You’re in Laos... Get your ass up and start walking! Luckily, the Wats are all located close to each other and they’re practically deserted, meaning you don’t need to walk too far. Spend your time exploring all the nooks and crannies or sit down with a monk and learn more about Buddhism. Wat Sisaket, Wat Ong Teu, Wat Mixai, and Wat Chantha are all within walking distance. Wat a good result… (lame, sorry).

4.30pm - Sunset over the Mekong

Head down Chao Anouvong Park, Beerlao in hand and people watch. You’ll see everything; from young lovers canoodling, through to fitness freaks performing aerobics to obnoxiously loud music. And then enjoy the sun set over Thailand in the distance. It’s a cool place to get the general vibe of Vientiane and engage with the friendly locals.


6pm - Explore the night markets

Every night, Chao Anouvong Park becomes a night market, full of all the touristy stuff you’ve come to expect on Southeast Asian travels. It’s energetic, colourful and fun; and the perfect place to snap up a few bargains.

7pm - Dinner

The perfect place for dinner is a humble establishment we stumbled across - Kataenoy. Basically, they serve a ridiculously tasty Laos style broth in clay pots. Sure, it might require you to make some of your own meal, which on holidays is generally the last thing you want to do, but it’s well worth it.


9pm - Beerlao at Bor Pen Nyang

Finish off your busy day with a few icy cold Beerlao at the best bar in town - Bor Pen Nyang. This bar overlooks the Mekong and is busy with a mix of backpackers, expats and locals; perfect if you want to meet someone new and have a boogie.

12am - Go home

Go home, you’re drunk.

So there you have it; the ultimate quick guide to 24 hours in Vientiane. Sure, it might not be the most beautiful city you've ever seen, but chances are, you'll end up being ever so slightly charmed by it (we were!).

Have you been to Vientiane? Did we miss somewhere? Let us know in the comments below.