Wednesday Wanderlust: Vientiane
Vientiane is the capital city of Laos situated by the Mekong River & borders Thailand. Before I booked my trip to Laos, I didn't know much about the country but couldn't wait to explore. I knew a few people who have been to Laos & told me that Vientiane is boring & not much to do or see there. Well, I wanted to check this place out myself & see what it had to offer, & I was surprisingly surprised.
After landing at Wattay International Airport I had a driver waiting for me to take me to my hotel. (Remember, all of my travels are go go go, so had to save time by organising everything in advance). I arrived early in the morning & only had one day & night & a morning to wander around.
But, first - C O F F E E! & food. There are quite a few quint little coffee shops around town & really close by to where I was staying. Setthathirath Road is a good place to start. I heard about Joma Bakery Cafe & that's where I stopped for a quick bite & tried out some local coffee, as you do, & then I was off . . .
First of all, I came across the Presidential Palace & across the road was Wat Si Saket. Haw Phra Kaew & Wat Si Muang are in the area too if you fancy checking them out. I decided to carry on North to see Arc de Triomphe inspired Patuxai Monument decorated with beautiful Laos motifs. The monument looks beautiful from all sides & you can go up it to soak in the views of Vientiane.
Following the road to the right, Rue Singha, for a little while I reached Pha That Luang, a gold-covered Bhuddist Stupa & a few other temples in the same vicinity. Gorgeous colours & details & lots of ground to just chill & relax.
Lots of architecture inspiration that was left behind by the French, when they colonised Loas at the end of 18th century.
Just keep on walking & looking, that's all I can say in trying to find hidden gems in terms of coffee shops & restaurants. As in most Asian cities, places come & go all the time.
I was also in search of the local cuisine & Laab is something that you must try & Lao Kitchen does it spot on. It is a salad dish often served with meat, but I'm sure you can ask for a vegetarian option. Lao coffee accompanied green tea & a glass of water. Yum!
TEXTILES!! VINTAGE TEXTILES! I was in a rush to go back to the hotel to drop some bits off so I could make it to the riverside for the sunset. I came across this textile shop & told myself that I will only have a peek & run. However, being a textile designer & colour lover, I was in heaven. You've got to stop by!! I left the shop with two lengths of beautiful material that are dressing my room now. I wish I could have bought more, as they were gorgeous & way too many options to choose from, but guess will have to return one day!
I eventually, made it to the riverside for the sunset & wanted to find an awesome vantage spot to have a cold bottle of Lao Beer or BeerLao with a stunning view of the sunset, river & Thailand on the other side. Bor Pen Nyang Bar & Restaurant has awesome views!
Once the sun set, after a few BeerLaos I got a little peckish. So, I had an idea of a restaurant that I wanted to check out but it was a bit of a walk up the riverside, so decided just to walk enough until I found something on the way. The riverside walk was awesome, and bustling with life. Crazy amounts bikes, children playing, restaurants on boats, people eating, drinking. Street food is a must for food! Until, mosquitoes start to eat you, Ha!
After amazing street food feast, I headed back closer to the hotel & popped into Khop Chai Due for a cocktail or two!
And this was it! I booked a seat in a cramped mini van the next morning & headed up to Vang Vieng which I will cover in next week's Wednesday Wanderlust!