Vientiane, City on the Mekong

Vientiane's waterfront seems purpose-built for beautiful sunsets. With a wide promenade and park, it's well used. And right across the river is Thailand.
Photo of Boys on a bike with sunset on the Mekong in Vientiane Laos (Viang Chan)
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Laos might be landlocked, but that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have some great water views. Winding through the entire length of the country is one of the world’s great rivers, the Mekong. From the snows of the Himalayas, the river runs through six southeast Asian countries: Tibet, China, Burma, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos.

Down here, about halfway down the length of Laos, the river is wide. And it’s also relatively calm yet persistent—calm compared to further downriver near the Cambodian border, where the river becomes massive raging rapids during the rainy season. Unlike further north in Laos, where the landscape is mountainous and rugged, the topography around Vientiane is relatively flat, and the river banks here are sandy, not rocky.

The nation’s capital, Vientiane, sits on the bank of the river. And the opposite bank is Thailand; the middle of the river markets part of a long border between the two countries. There are no fences of walls or checkpoints here—just the endlessly surging water of the Mekong.

Vientiane’s waterfront seems purpose-built for glorious sunsets. A new park and promenade are heavily used by local families out enjoying the balmy evening air. Kids play and swim in the small, protected lagoons created by the wide sandy islands. And in the evening, vendors at a night market sell the usual wares to tourists.

It’s all makes for a relaxed, friendly, and scenic place to spend the early evening.

Photos of Vientiane

Photo of Lao Boys Watching the World Go By (Viang Chan)
Photo © David Coleman / HaveCameraWillTravel.com
Photo of Vientiane Street at Night (Viang Chan)
Photo © David Coleman / HaveCameraWillTravel.com
Photo of Wat Roof Silhouette in Vientiane, Laos (Viang Chan)
Photo © David Coleman / HaveCameraWillTravel.com
Photo of Sunset on the Mekong silhouette in Vientiane (Viang Chan), Laos
Photo © David Coleman / HaveCameraWillTravel.com
Wat Si Saket Vientiane Laos 2000 Buddhas 337-0116026588x
Photo © David Coleman / HaveCameraWillTravel.com
Photo of Riding Bikes on the banks of the Mekong River in Vientiane, Laos (Viang Chan)
Photo © David Coleman / HaveCameraWillTravel.com
Photo of Boys swimming in the Mekong River at sunset in Vientiane Laos (Viang Chan)
Photo © David Coleman / HaveCameraWillTravel.com
Photo of Golden Carved Dragons in Laos (Viang Chan)
Photo © David Coleman / HaveCameraWillTravel.com
Photo of Night Market Stall Selling Pictures (Viang Chan)
Photo © David Coleman / HaveCameraWillTravel.com
Photo of Vientiane (Viang Chan) Laos Patuxay from Avenue Lane Xang
Photo © David Coleman / HaveCameraWillTravel.com
Photo of Hand of The Buddha Statue in Laos (Viang Chan)
Photo © David Coleman / HaveCameraWillTravel.com
Photo of Siddhartha Gautama Statue in Vientiane, Laos (Viang Chan)
Photo © David Coleman / HaveCameraWillTravel.com
Photo of The Buddha Statue Face (Viang Chan)
Photo © David Coleman / HaveCameraWillTravel.com
Photo of Night Market in Vientiane, Laos (Viang Chan)
Photo © David Coleman / HaveCameraWillTravel.com
Photo of Ornate Roof of a Wat in Vientiane, Laos (Viang Chan)
Photo © David Coleman / HaveCameraWillTravel.com
Photo of Colored Lights at the Night Market in Vientiane, Laos (Viang Chan)
Photo © David Coleman / HaveCameraWillTravel.com
Wat Si Saket in Vientiane Laos Wooden Naga 337-0121066610x
Photo © David Coleman / HaveCameraWillTravel.com
Photo of Woman selling fabrics at the night market in Vientiane (Viang Chan)
Photo © David Coleman / HaveCameraWillTravel.com
Photo of Beautiful Sunset on the Mekong in Vientiane Laos (Viang Chan)
Photo © David Coleman / HaveCameraWillTravel.com
Photo of Girl playin gin the water at sunset on the Mekong in Vientiane Laos (Viang Chan)
Photo © David Coleman / HaveCameraWillTravel.com
Wat Si Saket in Vientiane Laos Roof Tiers 337-0055016537x
Photo © David Coleman / HaveCameraWillTravel.com
Photo of Hammer and Sickle Flag in Vientiane, Laos (Viang Chan)
Photo © David Coleman / HaveCameraWillTravel.com

What to Know Before You Go

It’s the capital of Laos, but it’s not as bustling as many other major Asian cities. It’s easy to get around and a good walking city, especially down by the waterfront.

Where to Next?



Travel Advice for Laos

You can find the latest U.S. Department of State travel advisories and information for Laos (such as entry visa requirements and vaccination requirements) here.

The British and Australian governments offer their own country-specific travel information. You can find the British Government's travel advice for Laos here and the Australian Government's here.

Health & Vaccinations

The CDC makes country-specific recommendations for vaccinations and health for travelers. You can find their latest information for Laos here.

Guidebooks for Laos

If you're looking for a guidebook to make the most of your visit, these are some of the most popular ones currently for Laos. Some are available in both paper and e-book formats.

Lonely Planet Laos 10 (Country Guide)
  • Bush, Austin (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
Lonely Planet Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos & Northern Thailand 5 (Multi Country...
  • Lonely Planet Vietnam Cambodia Laos Northern Thailand
  • Tang, Phillip (Author)

Travel Insurance For Your Trip to Laos

I never travel without travel insurance, and I've run into several situations where I've had to make claims. I consider it essential.

But shopping for travel insurance can be a pain and confusing. Thankfully, there are some travel insurance comparison sites that show you a wide range of plans, make it easy to compare coverage, and can save you money at the same time. And the coverage can be much better tailored to your specific needs than the checkbox offering at travel booking sites or through your credit card.

These are some good places to shop for travel insurance for your next trip to Laos :

Hopefully, you won't need it, but if something goes wrong, you'll sure be glad you have it!

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