Best Things to Do in Vientiane

What is Vientiane Most Famous For?

Vientiane is known for its laidback atmosphere – life moves slowly here, attracting those looking to enjoy a quiet holiday in Laos. Exploring centuries-old Buddhist temples is one of the most popular things to do in the Lao capital, which you can do on foot, bicycle or tuk-tuk. 

Quirky markets sit next to the Mekong River, while colonial buildings are often museums displaying thousands of artefacts dating back to prehistoric times. Grab your camera, hit the streets, and you’re bound to find a host of interesting sights in Vientiane. 

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    Buddha Park (Xieng Khuan) is an open-air sculpture park with giant sculptures of Buddha and Hindu deities. Located 25km southeast of Vientiane, the park was founded in 1958 by monk and sculpture artist, Bunleua Sulila. 

    The statues are as impressive in size as they are in detail. Standouts at Buddha Park include a 40-metre reclining Buddha, Indra (a Hindu god) a 2-headed elephant, and a 4-armed deity riding a horse. To get to Buddha Park, there’s a bus (#14) departing from Talat Sao Bus Station every 40 mins.  Read More...

    • Opening Hours: Daily from 8am to 5pm
    • Location: Deua, Thanon Tha, Vientiane, Laos
    • How to get there: The Buddha Park can be reached by public bus or tuk tuk
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    Pha That Luang is a sacred monument and one of Laos’ most impressive religious structures. Its foundation dates back to the 3rd century, but the current structure was built in 1566 after Vientiane became the capital of Laos.

    Standing at 44 metres, Pha That Luang has a pinnacle covered in real gold, with a set of painted turrets surrounding its central stupa. Located 4 km northeast of central Vientiane, it’s easily reachable by tuk-tuk or bicycle (which you can rent from most guesthouses in the city). Read More...

    • Opening Hours: 24/7
    • Location: Vientiane, Laos
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    The Patuxai Victory Gate is a massive concrete arch on Lang Xang Avenue. Reminiscent of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, it features Buddhist symbols and Hindu deities, with 5 ornate towers built in traditional Laotian style.

    The monument is surrounded by Patuxai Park, which makes for a pleasant evening stroll in Vientiane. For about 5,000 kip, you can climb a spiral stairway to the tower’s observation deck – it offers stunning city views, particularly at sunset. Read More...

    • Opening Hours: Monday–Friday from 8am to 4.30pm, Saturday–Sunday from 8am to 5pm
    • Location: Lang Xang Avenue, Vientiane, Laos
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    The Vientiane Night Market takes place along the Mekong Riverfront, where you can see rows of red-roofed stalls selling handicraft, clothes, and electronics. Vendors begin to set up their stalls around sunset – the market is busiest around 8pm, so head there early to avoid a large crowd. The Vientiane Night Market is well worth a visit in the evening for its gorgeous sunset alone, as well as the many street food stalls selling authentic Lao dishes. Read More...

    • Opening Hours: Daily from 6pm to 9.30pm
    • Location: Mekong Riverfront, Vientiane, Laos

    Ho Phra Keo (or Haw Phra Kaew) is a former Buddhist shrine dating back to 1565 – today, it serves as a museum of religious arts in Vientiane. Locals call it ‘the Temple of the Emerald Buddha’ as Ho Phra Keo has a gilded throne meant for the Emerald Buddha, which now sits on the grounds of Bangkok’s Grand Palace. You can see displays of Buddha statues on the terrace, and 6th-century stone sculptures at the main ordination hall. Read More...

    • Opening Hours: Daily from 8am to 12pm and from 1pm to 4pm
    • Location: Setthathirath Road, Vientiane, Laos
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    Wat Si Muang is a Khmer temple with a fascinating legend that still holds great significance among the Laotian community. The gold and red structure was built in 1563 during the reign of King Setthathirat – the temple’s name comes from a young woman, Si Muang, who sacrificed herself over 400 years ago to appease angry spirits. Wat Si Muang serves the local Buddhist community, and has several stalls at the entrance selling bananas, coconuts, flowers, incense and candles for offerings. Read More...

    • Opening Hours: Daily from 6am to 7pm
    • Location: Vientiane, Laos
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    The Cooperative Orthotic and Prosthetic Enterprise (COPE) is a charity organisation that provides treatment and rehabilitation programmes for Laotian people with physical disabilities. Many patients suffer injuries from hidden explosive scattered throughout the countryside as a result of the Vietnam War.

    COPE has 5 rehabilitation centres across 8 provinces in Laos, so that victims – mostly children – living in rural areas have access to this crucial healthcare centre. You can learn more about COPE’s mission through various exhibitions and documentary films showcased in the centre. You can also see how prosthetic limbs are made at the onsite workshop. Read More...

    • Opening Hours: Daily from 9am to 6pm
    • Location: Khouvieng Road, Vientiane, Laos
    • Tel: +856 21 241 972
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    Wat Si Saket is the only temple in Laos that survived the Siamese occupation, which destroyed much of the capital in 1828. It features over 10,000 Buddha sculptures of varying sizes and styles – the sim (ordination hall) holds 7,000 images and a wooden serpent-shaped trough that’s used during the Lao New Year. Wat Si Saket stands majestically on Lan Xang Road, northwest of Haw Phra Kaew. Entrance to the temple costs around 5,000 kip per person. Read More...

    • Opening Hours: Daily from 8am to 12pm and from 1pm to 4pm
    • Location: Lan Xang Road, Vientiane, Laos
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