Our time in Vientiane was short, and wasn’t the best. Out of 4 days we were there, Steve was sick for 3 of them. We made the most of the time there with few sights, and a lot more relaxing and pool time.
How We Got There & Around
We took Laos Airlines from Luang Prabang on a direct short flight. Vientiane is currently updating their domestic terminal, so instead we were stuffed into a small temporary building with limited air conditioning and fans to wait for our bags.
We opted to fly rather than take a bus for various reasons. We had read in several blogs that the busses from Luang Prabang to Vientiane were not safe and miserable. We looked into renting a car, but it would’ve ended up costing more than the flight itself. In the end, we made the right choice, especially considering Steve’s condition.
Where We Stayed
Champa Garden Hotel was one of the only hotels we can afford with a pool. This time of year, with temperatures over 100 degrees, a pool was necessary. Sadly, the air conditioning unit didn’t work well, so we ended up still being sweaty most of the night.
Our Favorite Eats
We have to mention Tyson’s Kitchen! We ended up eating here twice. This place is owned by a family who lived in Laos, and then in Canada and back to Laos. The food was fantastic, but the entire staff treated you like family. On our last night there, a terrible storm passed through, causing major blackouts in the area. The staff lit candles, and were so kind and accommodating during the outage. We happen to be there on our anniversary, so we joked about having a candle light dinner. Once they found out it was our anniversary, they brought out the whiskey for us to try. We had a great time!
What We Did
Like I mentioned above, Steve was sick the first few days, so this made sightseeing non-existent. I spent time by the pool while Steve slept. We did lots of reading as well. We did manage to see a few things when Steve started feeling better:
Wat Ong Teu – This temple was near our hotel, so it was a no brainer to check it out. This temple has been built and destroyed several times. Since 1929, it has served as a Lao Buddhist Institute.
Lao National Museum – This museum covers Laos history from pre-historic times to modern times. We found the ongoing archeology efforts to be very fascinating. The modern history is similar to what we saw in Vietnam – French ruled, then many years of war. The museum had some artifacts, but a lot of it wasn’t labeled correctly (if at all). The museum gave us a good idea of history, but also gives it from a one perspective point of view in which the Laos & Vietnam government can do no wrong. I would recommend visitors check it out, but not to have high expectations – oh and also – this place is not air conditioned.
Pha That Luang – This is often considered the national symbol of Laos. This beautiful golden stupa was closed due to reconstruction during out visit. In fact, it has undergone several reconstructions throughout its existence due to heavy damage during wars. On the grounds near That Luang are smaller temples. Steve and I enjoyed walking around and viewing the art. We happen to walk by Monks eating their lunch and they gave us a friendly wave.
Patuxai – At first glance, you might say, “is that the Arc de Triomphe?”. It is not, but similar. It is a war memorial built to remember those who served to gain freedom from France. When we arrived the ponds were turned off, but we were able to climb the tower to the top which provided a spectacular view.
That Dam – We decided to check this one out because it was pretty close to the Patuxai. We weren’t able to find much information about this temple and it looks like it is in need of some TLC now.
Overview of Laos
Our time in Laos was brief but we understand why so many of our friends encouraged us to go here. From friendly faces, to beautiful sites and fantastic food – Laos had a lot to offer us. If we were to return, we would prefer to check out more places like Luang Prabang as well as smaller villages.