Having experienced the bustling streets of Phnom Penh and Siem Reap, I’d assumed that when I arrived in Vientiane – the capital city of Laos – I would be greeted with a familiar scene. To a certain extent, this is true. There are the same roadside stalls, groups of locals still slurp noodles in open-air eateries and the tree-lined avenues crowned with yellow flowers could be identical.
But whilst Vientiane may have similarities with its Asian siblings, it is definitely the quieter and calmer of the bunch. The stunning temples are all but free from the tourist masses, the roads provide passage for drivers rather than entrapment in endless congestion, and the beat of the city is altogether slower, more relaxed. Vientiane has lots to offer travellers, but it still feels largely undiscovered. It has an authentic atmosphere, and a whole lot of charm.
The days in Laos have been incredibly busy, but our local hosts have been very gracious and helped us get to know Vientiane. We’ve explored some of the stunning pagodas, marvelled over the intricate architecture, and eaten a LOT of Laotian food. It’s fairly similar to that of Cambodia, but with less coconut and more chilli. Oh and more frog too…
I also managed to make the most of an hour off with an amazing massage at White Lotus. I had an hour-long foot massage for around $7 and it was blissful. After nearly two weeks of wearing flip flops on dusty roads, and going barefoot in people’s homes and offices, my feet were ready for some pampering. It has done me the world of good, really helped me to relax ahead of the long flight back to London, and I only wish I’d had time to squeeze in a traditional Lao massage too!
Here are some highlights, but please forgive me that these were all taken on my iPhone – I couldn’t bring myself to carry a DSLR around in 40 degrees!
Vientiane is one colourful city. I feel like I’ve only really scratched the surface of what this place has to offer, I’m hoping that I’ll be able to come back one day to uncover more of its hidden gems.
Have you ever visited Laos? Where’s next on your travel list?