Accentuating the Laid-Back Laos

Sabaidee! That's their most welcoming greeting in Laos. Laos is a country far behind the image of its neighboring countries, untouched by the modern demands. It is located in the heart of the Indochina Peninsula in the Southeast Asia. Vientiane is capital and largest city, located on a curve of the Mekong River. It is the home of the most significant national monument in Laos, the Pha That Luang (Golden Stupa), which is the symbol of the Lao sovereignty and an icon of their religion, the Buddhism which has been started since 7th - 8th Centuries CE.

Some might think that traveling to Laos is quite impractical because of its laid-back image, but definitely rich in terms of historical and cultural value.  Here’s a quick Laos transition. In 1545 Vientiane became vital administrative city of the Kingdom of Lan Xang, known as the ‘million elephants’ era. Vientiane experienced renaissance when it became the capital of the French colony, until after its independence on 1953, and was unchanged after the communist revolution in 1975. So expect a touch of French influence. Today Vientiane is the largest city in Lao People’s Democratic Republic. As of 2012, their booming tourism industry is the second largest contributor to their economic growth. It was just 15 years ago since Laos reopened its door to foreign visitors. 

French structure in the heart of Vientaine
In our journey, we intentionally visited this not so typical travel destination in Southeast Asia, it was right after our first Bangkok stop (because we went back to Bangkok after the Vientiane visit and continued our 9 days backpacking to Cambodia). We spent two days in Vientiane, a quite and charming and peaceful city. Vientiane City tour was different from my other trips, it was my first time to roam around the city by riding a bicycle to see their most beautiful attractions. But before we startee out tour we bought city map to help us to explore Viantiane. Our itinerary for that day is to visit different historical wat (temple) as much as we can. First on the list is the Wat Ho Phra Keo, which means 'Temple of the Emerald Buddha'. It is one of the most remarkable and notable wat and  the home of the Emerald Buddha after it was snatched, now the sacred statue sits in Wat Phra Keo in Bangkok. With our without the Emerald Buddha, this temple is worth a visit, actually a museum now. Lao treasures such wooden carving, gilded throne and Khmer Buddhist stone table can be found inside the temple. Bicycle rent is 40 Baht for whole day and entrance fee to Wat Ho Phra Keo is 20 Baht.

This is the Wat Ho Phra Keo

Two Buddha figures welcomed us in the entrance of the temple.

Parallel to Wat Ho Phra Keo is the famous Wat Sisaket. This temple is not only well - known for the interior walls of cloister but also of its unique architecture and layout. Entrance fee is 20 Baht also.

Me wearing their local 'sarong' for men.
The Wat Sisaket

Buddhas are line up in the wall.

You shouldn't missed the That Luang, or the Great Stupa, this is their national symbol and also the most sacred monument in the country. Stupa is a mound-like structure containing Buddhist relics. The image is on Laos’ official seal. Entrance fee is 20 Baht.

The Great Stupa or Golden Stupa.

Just in the proximity of the Golden Stupa, a reclining Buddha and a Buddhist Palace is sited.

A large square arch is reminiscent of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. The Patuxai Victory Monument is located at Lang Xang Avenue, in the city center.It is a combination of French and Lao style, decorated with painted walls and ceilings depicting gods, goddesses and elephants. You can actually climb the top to view the panoramic sight. No entrance fee in this park.

Another historical attraction is the That Dam (Black Stupa). This mythological structure is said to  be be inhabited by a seven-headed water serpent that  protect the city from the Siamese threat. This stupa is believe to be plated in gold that were taken by the Siamese. 

In front of the Mekong River, Monument of King Anouvong is erected to honor the last king in the Lao Kingdom of Vientiane.

Outside Vientiane, about 25 kilometer southeast, Buddha Park is located, it is a famous sculpture park with more than 200 religious statues of Buddhist and Hindu gods and goddess scattered around the meadow. Each group of statues have their own bizarre design and are ornate.

Lastly, night market is another thing that you should do. Let your eyes feast to the colorful souvenirs and Lao inspired clothing for very low price. The Lao pants are awesome. Main streets in Vientiane at night is just as bright as in Bangkok and other Southeast Asian countries, being influenced by French, expect a touch of western life even at night.

60 Baht

100 - 200 Baht.

150 - 200 Baht

50 Baht each.

120 Baht

Relax in the captivating and peaceful Vientiane at night with their signature BeerLao, whose chemist is a proud Filipino! 

Laos, a landlocked country antiquated by choice, but now swiftly catching up to the revolution of  the modern world yet preserving its significant culture and tradition. Their tourism slogan really represents their country. 

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  1. Nice narratives. Like your photo on the bike =)

    1. Thanks jherson! Love reading your articles too!

  2. Hi Kirk, really pumped up with my plans and am using your blog posts as main guide. Is this done in a day? Or was it already a summary of the two day stay in Laos? Appreciate your word about it :)

    1. On our first day, we arrived in Vientiane around 2:00PM, checked-in at our hotel then at 3PM started our city tour, we went to the golden stupa, patuxai and in the night market located beside the mekong river. Morning of the next day we did the wat sisaket, wat ho phra keo, black stupa, went back to our hotel for lunch and hired a taxi to buddha park.

    2. Hi Kirk, confirm ko lang po. Nabasa ko po na 12hrs-14hrs ang byahe ng train at 6pm/8pm lang siya umaalis. Kung 2pm po kayo nakarating sa vientiane ibigsabihin malayo pa yung city from thanaleng station? Thank much po!!! :)

    3. Hi Kirk, confirm ko lang po. Nabasa ko po na ang byahe from bangkok is either 6pm o 8pm at ang byahe tumatagal nr 12-14 hrs papuntang Nong khai station. Kung nakarating po kayo ng 2pm sa vientiane ibigsabihin malayo pa yung Nong Khai sa vientiane? Thanks mcuh po sa inyo. :)

    4. hmmp. can't remember anymore... 30 minutes from Nong Khai to Thanaleng.. and 1.5hrs from Thanaleng to Vientiane (really cant remember anymore)... consider the waiting time in the immigration office which in the Thanaleng Train Station to complete your immigration process.
      This might help:

  3. career na to sa summer! haha. napaka-effective ng blog mo kirk. infernes. eto na guide ko :)

  4. Hi Kirk, san kayo nagrent ng bike sa Laos? magkano? Thank you

    1. Sa street along Mekong river madame. Tanong tanong na lang kayo. 40Baht ang rent for whole day


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