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Things to see and do

Hiking, walking tours and itineraries

  • Two days in Vientiane
    4.5 stars

    Vientiane won’t have the flash or buzz of Bangkok or Hanoi, but it does have its own charms and yields surprises to those who spend a little time exploring. Here's how we'd spend two days in the Lao capital. ... read more


  • That Luang
    4 stars

    That Luang stupa is one of the country’s most sacred and important religious and cultural monuments; its shining image can be found in government logos and all currency notes. Though the site is said to date back to third century AD, the original stupa was built by King Saysetthathirath in ... read more

  • Wat Ong Theu
    3 stars

    Wat Ong Teu was built in the early 16th century by King Setthathirath, but destroyed when the Siamese razed the city in 1827-1828. It was then rebuilt in the 19th and 20th centuries and now holds an important position as the national centre of Buddhist studies. The temple is quite colourful, ... read more

  • Wat Ho Phra Kaew
    4 stars

    This temple is named after the sacred image it once housed, the Phra Kaew or Emerald Buddha, a 66 centimetre statue carved from a single jade stone. Along with the Pra Bang (Luang Prabang’s namesake Buddha statue), the two images were believed to be inhab This 1565-built temple is named after the ... read more

  • Wat Si Muang
    3.5 stars

    Home to the original Vientiane city pillar, Wat Si Muang is a busy temple with a constant flow of visitors making wishes and returning with more offerings once their wish has come true. The temple is known for giving luck and fortune, and many people come from near and far to pray and receive ... read more

  • Wat Sisaket
    3.5 stars

    Built between 1818 and 1824 by King Chao Anou, Wat Sisaket survived the Thai invasion in one piece, making it the oldest temple in Vientiane. Wat Sisaket was built from 1818 to 1824 by King Anouvong, the last king of Lane Xang Kingdom, as his private monastery. It is the only temple to have ... read more

  • Wat Sokpaluang
    3.5 stars

    Ride through the gates of Wat Sokpaluang and you are immediately overcome with a sense of peace and calm. Also known as Wat Pa (meaning forest temple), this temple is not historically significant like Wat Sisaket or Wat Phiawat but the large forested grounds are lovely and it ranks as one of our ... read more


  • Lao Textile Museum
    3.5 stars

    The Lao Textile Museum is an exquisite private collection of antique textiles in a gorgeous, elegant traditional building that brings Jim Thompson’s House to mind. Though the family speak some English, there is no signage or interpretation. Therefore, this place would only be of interest to ... read more

  • The Lao National Museum
    3.5 stars

    This two-storey colonial mansion became the Lao National Museum in 1985 and houses enough relics of Lao history and culture, both ancient and modern, to make a visit worthwhile. The first rooms after entering the museum are filled with a hodgepodge of ancient artefacts. You may be surprised to ... read more

Interesting buildings

  • Patuxai
    4 stars

    The large concrete monolith at the end of Lane Xang Ave is Patuxai, the Victory Gate of Vientiane. Except for the Buddhist details visible up close, Patuxai was clearly designed to resemble Paris's Arc du Triomphe. ... read more

Day trips

  • Buddha Park (Wat Xieng Khuan)
    4 stars

    Buddha Park is more curious than spectacular – which makes for a curious spectacle. A rogue monk is said to have attempted to reconsolidate Buddhism and Hinduism into his own brand of mysticism through a prolific collection of sculptures depicting various ... read more

  • Phou Khao Khouay National Park
    3.5 stars

    Sprawling yet little-visited Phou Khao Khouay National Park is located only 40 kilometres northeast of Vientiane, accessible via Route 13 headed to Tha Khaek. The park, which means “Buffalo Horn Mountain”, features some beautiful scenery and a vast array ... read more

General activities

  • COPE Visitor Centre
    3.5 stars

    Between 1964 and 1973 the US army dropped over two million tons of ordnance on Laos, making it the most heavily bombed country per capita in history. Of the more than 270 million sub-munitions, 80 million failed to explode. The nightmare continues to this ... read more

  • Lao Disabled Women’s Development Centre
    4 stars

    Take a tour and a handicraft class and be prepared for a joyous and eye-opening experience. ... read more

  • Houey Hong Vocational Training Centre for Women
    4 stars

    While capital city Vientiane rushes towards modernity, the remarkable Houey Hong Vocational Training Centre for Women helps women with their future by reviving Laos’ age-old traditional crafts. ... read more

  • Mekong riverfront at sunset
    4.5 stars

    The Mekong riverfront is important gathering place at the end of the workday, and a stroll along here at sunset is a must for all travellers -- have a drink and some snacks as well! ... read more

  • Lao-French Institute (L’Institut Francais du Laos)
    4 stars

    The Lao French Institute, or L’Institut francais du Laos was established in 1993 and was initially focused on promoting the French language. The centre has since become a hub for cultural exchange, with its primary focus on France and Laos but other cultu ... read more

  • Massage
    4 stars

    Trekking on mountain trails, riding on bumpy dirt roads and lapping up loads of BeerLao are all popular activities in Laos that can leave at least one body part very sore. ... read more

  • Swimming pools in Vientiane
    3.5 stars

    Beat the dry heat of Laos with a dip in one of the many swimming pools scattered across town. The best are undoubtedly the ones at the city's top hotels, and most are open to the public for a modest fee. The third floor of the Don Chan consists of an indoor spa and an open-air gym and swimming ... read more


  • What to buy at Vientiane's Talaat Sao (Morning Market)
    4 stars

    While Laos cannot rival the markets of Chiang Mai and Bangkok, in Vientiane Talaat Sao, or the morning market, offers a great selection of local offerings, mostly of the fabric-based kind. Every Southeast Asian city has a market that’s a treasure trove of exotic bits and pieces; while Laos ... read more

Cooking classes

  • Cooking classes
    4 stars

    Visitors are often surprised to learn how different Lao cuisine is to its neighbours. A cooking class is a great window into Lao culture. Not only will you gain insight into ingredients and dishes, you’ll discover the important relationship Lao people have with food and the traditional dining ... read more

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Sights in Vientiane