Vientiane Capital is often the first stop for visitors to Laos, and the city offers plenty of activities and attractions. More options are opening up to get there by air, road, and rail, and a public bus service is reaching areas of the city few have visited. Hotels are now seeing the capital’s potential, and new establishments continue to crop up. And, when it comes to dining, Vientiane offers local food served at noodle shops and high-end restaurants, as well as at a range of trendy international eateries.
With the opening of the skies to more regional airlines, including low-cost carriers, flights are more readily available from other countries and several Lao provinces. Currently some five airlines offer routes from seven regional countries, with more in the pipeline, and Lao Airlines and Lao Skyways offer domestic flights. Bus and train travel is available from Bangkok and major north-eastern Thai cities, and busses travel to the capital from around the country, with VIP sleeper busses growing in popularity.
For getting around town, visitors can hire a tuk tuk or taxi, or rent bicycles and motorcycles. An extensive public bus service with well-mapped routes provide an easy and inexpensive way to reach attractions outside the city centre. Further, a new app (https://lao.busnavi.asia/?lang=en) allows visitors to easily find the routes and track the location of the busses.
Most accommodation in Vientiane Capital is located in the downtown area around the Mekong River, though there are establishments outside of the city centre. Vientiane currently has 208 hotels and 219 guesthouses and resorts with more coming on line. Backpackers, families, business travellers, tourists holding to a strict budget, and visitors seeking luxury accommodation will find a rooms in their price range with facilities and amenities to fit everyone’s needs.
The city presents some 100 restaurants, with most in the city centre and within cycling distance. You can try Lao specialties such as tam mak hung (spicy green papaya salad), lap (spicy minced meat salad), and ping kai (fried chicken), all served with sticky rice at small shops and gourmet restaurants. Vientiane also has a growing international dining scene with restaurants specializing in Italian, French, Indian, Thai, Korean, Japanese, and Chinese food.