Top 10 Interesting Things to Do in Vientiane

Situated on the Mekong River in southern Laos, Vientiane offers a quieter getaway than noisy cities. This provincial and sleepy capital has amazing Buddhist art, graceful temples, and lovely gardens. How great it is when there are numerous things to do in Vientiane that you can get around and see, even if you’re only there with a limited budget or for a short amount of time.

1. Going to COPE Visitor Center

In fact, Laos is actually the most heavily bombed country in history. It’s estimated that of the 270 million cluster bombs that were dropped on Laos during the war, almost a third of them never detonated. Since the end of the war, thousands of people have lost limbs or been killed by accidentally triggering a dormant cluster bomb. 

COPE is a locally run charity that provides victims with prosthetic’s and much-needed support. They will take you through the effects of the bombings on Laotian people and show you of the amazing work the center does to help the victims. It’s free to enter the visitor center but you can leave a donation or purchase something from the onsite shop to help.

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2. Having a traditional Laos herbal sauna and massage

Laos herbal steam sauna and massage offers an extremely aromatic experience. In an open-air traditional house, guests can take a herbal spa made from boiling a mix of fragrant herbs beneath a sealed room, before moving outside to take a massage in tranquil natural surroundings. If you need to recover from the bus or want to prepare for the next long journey, a traditional sauna is a great way to sweat out stress and soothe tense muscles.

3. Climbing up Patuxai Victory Monument

The Patuxai Victory Monument was built to dedicate to the Laos who were killed in the fight to gain independence from France, as well as from the nation’s earlier occupiers, Siam and Japan. Its exterior embellishments feature both Buddhist religious symbols such as lotus leaves and the stupa-shaped towers and statues of the animist. The interior of the monument is also richly decorated with painted walls and ceilings depicting gods, goddesses, and elephants. Climbing up the spiraling staircases leading to the top of its towers will give you great panoramic views of the surrounding city.

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4. Shopping at the riverside night bazaar

Located in one of the most crowded places of the city of Vientiane, the night market begins around sunset when a small army of sellers begin setting up their red-roofed stalls directly on the riverside promenade. A lot of what is on offer is souvenirs aimed at the tourist market, but you can also find anything here from clothes, shoes, and jewelry to delicious food, handmade crafts, and electronics.

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5. Getting involved in open-air aerobics

Let’s take part in the aerobics group on the boulevard next to the Mekong at the sunset to get your daily dose of physical exercise. There are mass outdoor aerobics classes that take place at 6 PM which you can join for under a dollar. Although the majority joining the open air gym is women, men are also welcomed as well. It’s actually really fun to join and you don’t have to be afraid of being the wally who gets all of the dance moves wrong.

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6. Visiting Pha That Luang Temple

Pha That Luang is truly a cannot-be-missed destination in your Vientiane travel. The Pha That Luang, meaning "Great Sacred Stupa", is the most sacred monument of Laos and the national symbol. Situated on a hill about 5km northeast of the downtown, this is a gold-covered large Buddhist stupa. From the outside, That Luang looks more like a fortress surrounded and it features two temples, the top of which is covered by gold leaf with a total height of 147.6 feet to demonstrate the grandeur and splendor of the kingdom.

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7. Wandering around the Xieng Khuan Buddha Park

XiengKhuan Buddha Park has become a bizarre-yet-enjoyable attraction with more than 200 religious statues inspired by Buddhism and Hinduism in varying sizes from small to very large. Each statue or group of statues highlights a different story or tale. Among the concrete sculptures are skeleton thin Buddhas and a giant pumpkin with a demon head for an opening and 3 floors representing Heaven, Hell, and Earth.

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8. Sampling lao-Lao whiskey

lao-Lao is a type of clear rice whiskey produced in Laos. The first “lao” means alcohol and the second “Lao” means Laotian or from Laos. It is made by many distilleries across the country and is amongst the least expensive alcoholic drinks that can be purchased by under $1 for a full-size bottle, with an alcohol percentage of 40 or 45. Whiskey Village, a famous location where the whiskey is made, is located near Luang Prabang, in the northern part of Laos.

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9. Trying Laotian dishes in Vientiane

Tourists travel to Vientiane not only to take delight in terrific landscapes but also enjoy the amazing traditional food. Laos’ dishes tend to be spicy, fragrant, and are often accompanied by sticky rice and lots of fresh herbs and salad leaves such as Larb, Tam makhoong, Khao Poon, KhaoJee, Laos Pho, Laos Sausage, Lao Barbecue (sin dad), etc.

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10. Watching the sunset over the Mekong River

There is nothing better than sitting back, taking your shoes off, and enjoying the sunset over the Mekong River on one of the best Laos river cruises. A mixture of orange, yellow and red in the sky, a silhouette of a fisherman paddling away, towards the middle of the Mekong River will definitely make you stay and watch!

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As you can see from our list, there is a good mixture of sightseeing, culture and interesting activities to do in Vientiane. Now is the time to explore this picturesque Mekong riverside spot!

» Consider our Vientiane 1 Day Trip to experience the most interesting activities in Laos' capital. 

»© Copyright: Laos Travel Guide

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Brian Vu

Working for a travel company is a big chance for me to feel love with travel. Specially, leisure is not my style, riding motorbike to discover everywhere is really great for my trips. On each miles I reach, I get opportunity to learn more about the local culture, to see ... [View Details...]