A Break from Hectic Southeast Asia

1299 View

Vientiane, the capital of Laos, is probably one of the world’s smallest capital cities. And this city indeed feels like a small town, with a deliciously relaxing atmosphere that is so different from other bustling, crazy cities in other Southeast Asia countries.

Vientiane is the capital and largest city in Laos. Vientiane stretches along the banks of the Mekong at which point it forms the border with Thailand and follows the peaceful rhythm of the river. This is the first stop for most visitors to Laos, and although the capital may come across as somewhat bewildering, there are more than a few surprises in this dusty city worth exploring.

For a capital city, it is remarkably quiet, laid-back. The population of the entire metropolitan area is less than 800.000 people.

Vientiane Capital has a recorded history that stretches back to around 10th Century. The area was originally settled because of the fertility of the surrounding alluvial plains. Vientiane became the capital in 1563 due to fears of a Burmese invasion.

The name of the city is derived from Pali, the liturgical language of Theravada Buddhism. The original meaning of the name of the city is "city of sandalwood", but many, if not most, Lao people claim that the city's name means "city of the moon".

According to Laotian epic, a seven-headed Naga told Prince Thattaradtha to start a new city on the east bank of Mekong River. The prince called this city Chanthabuly Si Sattanakhanahud; which was said to be the predecessor of modern Vientiane. In 1354, when King Fa Ngum founded the kingdom of Lan Xang, Vientiane became an important administrative city, even though it was not made the capital.

The city has been controlled at various times by the Vietnamese, the Siamese, the Burmese and the Khmers – and, more recently, the French and the Americans. Vientiane was the administrative capital during French rule and, due to economic growth in recent times, is now the economic center of Laos.

Although still a small city, the capital experiences a major influx of tourists. Like most French colonial towns of Indochina, Vientiane has broad, leafy boulevards lined with magnificent colonial mansions in various stages of decay, a handful of Buddhist temples and a relaxed tropical feel.

Vientiane has a typically tropical climate, with two distinct seasons based around the annual monsoon. The rainy season begins around June and lasts until late October. Heavy afternoon thunderstorms are normal during this summer period, followed by high levels of humidity which make the hot weather feel even more uncomfortable. However, the rainy season also brings relief to the sometimes dust-choked streets of the capital, cleaning things and helping the dense vegetation burst back into life. By November, the rains have subsided and dry conditions prevail. The dry season runs until May, when the wet season's first thunderstorms are welcomed as they rip across the city. The temperatures range from warm to hot throughout most of the year, except for December and January, when conditions reach their coolest and most pleasant. Bright blue skies and comfortable daytime temperatures make this the most popular season for tourism, but it rarely feels overcrowded in Vientiane.

Mai Linh

Image sources: Internet

1299 View

Related travel guides

Similar destinations

Best of Laos Tours

Laos & Vietnam Discovery 15 days

Price Included:

Price Excluded:

  • AC land transfer in Car/ Minivan
  • Accommodation shared in Twin/Double room with daily breakfast.
  • Local English speaking guide.
  • Halong Bay Cruise program shared in Twin/Double cabin as per tour.
  • Meals as stated in the itinerary (B: Breakfast ; L: Lunch ; D: Dinner)
  • All sightseeing tickets.
  • Services charges and government tax.
  • 4 Domestic flight Luang Prabang - Vientiane - Hanoi - Hue - Ho Chi Minh: 456 USD/pax
  • EARLY Check in & LATE Check out at hotel
  • Peak season surcharge & compulsory dinner in the accommodation.
  • International flights & departures taxes
  • Beverage
  • Personal expenses, tips and gratuities
  • Travel insurance
  • Other services are not mentioned above
Best of Laos 10 days

Price Included:

Price Excluded:

  • All accommodation share in twin/double with daily breakfast at selected hotels
  • Private A/C land transfers and all services as mentioned in the itinerary
  • Local English speaking guides in every location
  • Entrance fees for all visited sights
  • Meals as mentioned in the itinerary
  • EARLY Check in & LATE Check out at hotel.
  • Domestic Flight (Luang Prabang - Paske): 180 USD/1 ticket
  • Laos Visa on arrival
  • Peak season surcharge & compulsory dinner in the accommodation.
  • International flights & departures taxes
  • Beverage
  • Personal expenses, tips and gratuities
  • Travel insurance
  • Other services are not mentioned above
Mekong Sun Cruise 5 days - Thailand Longest River Cruise

Price Included:

Price Excluded:

  • 4 overnights in your comfortable cabin onboard Mekong Sun
  • Economy class flights Bangkok – Nakhon Phanom and Udon Thani – Bangkok
  • Meals and excursions according to itinerary (B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner)
  • Coffee, tea and water during meals on board
  • Admission fees for excursions mentioned in itinerary
  • Presentations and lectures on board
  • International flights
  • Tips
  • Transfers in Bangkok
  • Thai-Visa
Laos in Style 12 days

Price Included:

Price Excluded:

  • All accommodation share in twin/double with daily breakfast at selected hotels
  • Private A/C land transfers and all services as mentioned in the itinerary
  • Local English speaking guides in every location
  • Entrance fees for all visited sights
  • Meals as mentioned in the itinerary
  • Domestic Flight (Luang Prabang - Vientaine)
  • EARLY Check in & LATE Check out at hotel.
  • Laos Visa on arrival
  • Peak season surcharge & compulsory dinner in the accommodation.
  • International flights & departures taxes
  • Beverage
  • Personal expenses, tips and gratuities
  • Travel insurance
  • Other services are not mentioned above
Luang Say Mekong Cruise 3 days

Price Included:

Price Excluded:

  • -Transfer from Laos’s immigration to the pier in Houayxay or v.v.
  • - 2 days cruise with stops and visits en route
  • - 1 night accommodation at the Luang Say Lodge
  • - Meal plan as mentioned in the program
  • - ( 2 lunches, 1 dinner, 2 breakfasts )
  • - Coffee, tea & drinking water on board and during meals.
  • - Admission fee at visiting points as mentioned in the program.
  • - Services of qualified crews during the cruise
  • - Transfer from/to hotel to pier in Luang Prabang
  • - Shuttle boats to Chiang Khong / Houayxayor Houayxay / Chiang Khong
  • - Immigration fees in Houayxay
  • - Soft and Alcoholic Drinks during the trip.
  • - visa approval and fees for Laos
  • - Services in Luang Prabang
  • - Personal insurance
  • - Other personal expenses
View More ❯