Vientiane is the capital of Laos but does not get as visitors as the more well known Luang Prabang and Vang Vieng. Even though some people consider Vientiane a place to skip in Laos, we think it is worth a visit at least for 1 or 2 days.  If you find yourself in Vientiane here are the best things to do in Vientiane:

Best Things to do in Vientiane

Pha That Luang (‘Great Stupa’)

 Best Things to do in Vientiane 

Pha That Luang (or Great Stupa) is a large gold stupa and the national symbol of Laos.

a large gold building with a pointed top with That Luang in the background

The stupa is more impressive from the outside so it is not worth the entrance fee to go inside. However it is worth exploring the surrounding temples and gardens.

Top Things to do in Vientiane Laos

things to do in vientiane laos

Top Things to do in Vientiane Laos

Pha That Luang is located about 4km from the center of Vientiane and while it is possible to walk, it is easier to take a tuk tuk.

Patuxai (Victory Gate)


Did you know that Vientiane has its own Arc de Triomphe? Patuxai (which means Victory Gate) is a huge structure which looks like the Arc de Triomphe from the outside.


The Patuxai was built in memory of Laotian soldiers who died during World War II and the independence war from France in 1949.

Patuxai was build with money given to Laos by the US to build a new airport which is why it has the nickname the vertical runway. There is even a sign explaining its history.

Things to do in Vientiane

While inspired by the Arc de Triomphe on the outside, the rest of Patuxai is typical Laos style.   Make sure to look up at the ceiling inside the arches.

Things to do in Vientiane 1218
It is free to explore the outside and lower part but there is a fee of 3,000 kip to climb Patuxai. If you climb the seven floors to the top you will be rewarded with panoramic views of the city.

There are souvenir shops on some of the levels if you want to take a break or do some shopping while you are there.

Mekong Riverfront/ NIght Market


Vientiane is on the banks of the Mekong River and the riverside promenade is the best place to enjoy the sunset.  This is also a great spot for people watching and you will see locals, expats and tourists just hanging out.  After sunset, there are even aerobics classes here and a night market here which sells clothes and souvenirs.

Have you visited Laos? If so what were your thoughts on Vientiane?

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