Oct 23 2012
Laos is one of the most laidback destinations in Southeast Asia, if not the world. Many people travel to this land of rivers, mountains and paddy fields to disconnect, wind back the clock and spend their days lazing by the riverside with a drink in hand and smiles on their faces. As recently as a few years ago, Vientiane felt nothing like the other busy capital cities. Tourists often walked around looking for the downtown area for an hour before realizing they were already in the heart of it. This is all changing though, as the city rapidly develops and empty streets are now filled with traffic and shoppers. This once sleepy city is on the verge of bustling, yet pockets of tranquility still exist and are at their finest at sunset with a view of the Mekong and an ice-cold glass of BeerLao.
A favourite place among expats to watch the sunset is Highland Bar. This outdoor bar on wooden stilts provides a variety of drinks, food and televised sports, and is a particular draw for those with a penchant for football or rugby. Perched at the end of Quai Fa Ngum and surrounded by greenery, the Highland Bar emanates a cosy pub feel while offering fresh air and gorgeous views of the riverside.
If you’re looking for something more elegant and family friendly, Spirit House is located a 10-minute walk up the road, closer to the downtown area. The outdoor seating in this beautiful wooden restaurant is limited, but its large open windows and entrance offer lovely views of the river from most seats inside. The Spirit House has elaborate cocktail and tapas menus, as well as good Western and Lao food.
A more motley atmosphere can be found at Bor Pen Yang bar and restaurant, also on Qua Fa Ngum, opposite the night market. This open rooftop bar provides beautiful views of the Mekong from the fourth floor, as well as an extensive dinner menu, pool tables and a colourful clientele. Bor Pen Yang certainly attracts patrons of all sorts, rendering it an excellent spot for people watching.
If you’re not in the mood to settle into a bar or restaurant, then simply buy your consumables at a local shop, meander through the night market and head to the chunky cement steps that lead down to the water. Completed in 2011, the paved promenade running along the riverside has become a popular spot to come and relax in the cooler evening air. As the sun sets over the Mekong, a sense of tranquility cuts through the ever-increasing traffic and crowds, and reminds you that you’re still in the laidback land of Laos.
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