Indochina Map

Hugging a bend of the Mekong River, the low-rise capital of Laos is a quaint and easygoing place, looking more like a rambling collection of villages than a city. However, in the mere decade and a half since Laos reopened its doors to foreign visitors, Vientiane has changed with dizzying rapidity. Happily, most of the changes have been for the better: there's an excellent selection of restaurants and accommodation to chose from, and the city still retains much of its placid charm.

This delightfully friendly capital, studded with crumbling French mansions, bougainvillea­-blooming streets and steaming noodle stalls, is somewhere between a big town and a diminutive city; the kind of place you might find a Graham Greene protagonist. Its conveniently compact travellers’ enclave is based around Nam Phu, the Mekong riverside and Setthariat and Samsenthai streets. Full of things to see, from Buddha Park to the Morning market and an impossibly rich selection of international cuisine – most pointedly French – you’ll find yourself slowly won over by the easy charms of this evolving backwater.


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