Vientiane is the capital of Laos and the largest city, it is located on the banks of the Mekong River very close to the border with Thailand.
We visited here a few years ago for three nights before heading off to Luang Prabang. There is still a French influence around, especially the architecture. The Laotian cuisine is very delicate using herbs such as lemongrass, coriander and basil. Some of the dishes you might eat are sticky rice (Khao Niaw) sticky rice is a staple throughout the country. Minced Meat Salad (Larb) Green Papaya Salad (Tam Mak Hoong) Steamed Fish (Mok Pa) Baguette Paté (Khao Jii Paté) Wet Noodles (Khao Piak Sen) Lao Sausages (Sai Uah, Sai Gok) Noodle Soup (Phor).
The hotel we stayed at was called Green Park Hotel, a small boutique hotel set in beautiful gardens. After we had checked in we arranged with the concierge to hire a driver and car for the next two days. The next day after breakfast overlooking the gardens, our driver met us to start our first day. We were lucky with our driver, a happy chappy called Mr Vong and delighted to be our tour guide.
Green Park Hotel
Nam Ngum River
Our first stop today was the Nam Ngum River where we would be taking a river boat cruise including lunch. We had a couple of mini breaks on the way to take in the scenery.
We stopped off at a small concrete pontoon in the middle of the lake, and up some stairs there was a lady selling all types of woven goods, local dried fish and gooseberries. The baskets and pots were made by the inmates of a nearby prison. We couldn’t leave without purchasing something. I hoped somebody remembered to pick her up at the end of the day!
A relaxing few hours was spent aboard our boat, eating lunch and drinking beer just watching the world go by. Not too sure about the chicken’s feet, but a favourite of my hubby, there’s no accounting for taste.
Soon we were back in the car off to our next stop which was the COPE museum.
Cooperative Orthotic and Prosthetic Enterprise
During the Vietnam War American bombers dropped over two million tons of cluster bombs on Laos, even though this was a neutral country. To read more about this terrible event in history click on history.com.
I must say I was shocked to read about the horrific suffering that the Laotians had suffered, visiting this museum was a real eye opener.
Feeling very sombre, we drove into the centre to have a quick stop at the Nam Phou Fountain.
Day two was a drive to the Buddha Park, home to weird and wacky sculptures depicting different humans, animals, gods and demons.
There is one sculpture shaped like a pumpkin with the tree of life on the top. It has three stories representing hell, heaven and earth. Entrance is through an opening which is a mouth of a 3-metre-tall demon head and climb staircases to the top. Each story contains sculptures depicting the level.
It was quite claustrophobic climbing up a very narrow staircase from the inside. Coming down was even worse, with no handrail and a panic attack on the way, I froze to the spot. Mr Vong had to hold my arm and hubby my ankle I manoeuvred inch by inch towards the edge! There were six Japanese men in suits no less, waiting patiently under the midday sun to come down after me. I wondered at one point if I would have to be rescued by a helicopter – a drama queen to the last!
A very interesting morning!
Completely exhausted after this, we drove back to the hotel for a relaxing afternoon at the pool. All in all a very successful two days in Vientiane.
Extra info: To enter Laos from other countries you have to fly into Vientiane, Wattay International Airport so it’s worth a stop for a few nights. Visas can be obtained on arrival, a copy of your passport photo is okay to use. It takes around 20 minutes to drive into the city. We flew from Singapore to Vientiane using Lao Airlines and were very happy with the service and flight. The currency is the Kip but US dollars are widely accepted, so it’s useful to have both currencies.
Have a wonderful time if you ever do visit.
Thanks again for stopping by and reading!
Next of course is W
The next stop after Vientiane
The second part of our trip to Laos was to the incredibly beautiful Luang Prabang. This tiny town is encircled by mountains and sits on the banks of the Mekong and Nam Khan River. We flew Lao Airlines from Vientiane and had arranged for a driver to take us to our hotel. We stayed at…