The Lao capital of Vientiane sits on the northern bank of the Mekong River facing across to the even sleepier Thai town of Sri Chiang Mai. Vientiane is a delightfully friendly city studded with crumbling French mansions, bougainvillea-blooming streets and steaming noodle stalls, is somewhere between a big town and a diminutive city.
Its conveniently compact travelers’ enclave is based around Nam Phu, the Mekong riverside and Setthariat and Samsenthai streets. Full of things to see, from Buddha Park to the Morning market and an impossibly rich selection of international cuisine – most pointedly French – visitors will find themselves slowly won over by the easy charms of this evolving backwater.
For many visitors, Vientiane provides the first taste of Lao food, culture and hospitality, and it does not disappoint on any count. Vientiane is probably one of the smallest capital cities in the world, so getting around is quick and easy.