Vientiane has evolved from a sleepy little Mekong fishing town into a city that seems to have finally found its voice; albeit a hushed one. Unlike neighbouring Thailand, the Laotian capital’s nightlife scene is more of a low-key affair – but that doesn’t mean quality and quantity have been spared.
The ever-growing collection of friendly bars and pubs are great places to spark up a conversation with a chatty stranger, or exchange travel tips with a backpacker on the same path as you. Most of the nightlife revolves around the majestic river at this cities heart; it’s here where you’ll find the Night Market, well frequented Bor Pen Nyang roof terrace bar as well as the highly recommendable Kong View River restaurant.
- Full-Day Private Guided City Tour
- Private Tat Sae Waterfalls Hike with Elephant Ride
- Traditional Lao Life
- Private Full-Day Vientiane & Surrounds Excursion
- Private Full-Day Vang Vieng Excursion & Boat Ride
- Private Full-Day Tour to Phou Khao Khouay National Park
- Private Hill-Tribe Village & Kuang Si Falls Tour
- Small-Group Morning Almsgiving & Market Tour
- Private Day Trip to Nam Ngum Dam
- Small-Group Half-Day Vientiane Tour
The Lao Bowling Centre in Vientiane is a great entertainment option for families and those looking for a fun, alternative night out. In the daytime, locals and tourists of all ages come to enjoy the discounted rates and pleasant cool environment – a welcome break from Vientiane’s often blistering heat. As the evening progresses, the music is turned up and the Beerlao start to flow - two key factors which inevitably create more of a lively atmosphere. Be aware that with only 10 lanes, arriving during peak hours (around 22:00) might mean you have to wait for a while.
You can find the slightly run-down yet charming Lao Bowling Centre tucked away behind the National Stadium, near the Vangthong Evening Food Market. Read More...
- Opening Hours: 09:00 - 01:00 (sometimes later)
- Location: Boulevard Khunbulom, Vientiane
Whilst Spirit House is open from as early as 07:00 in the morning, this delightful little riverside spot really comes alive in the evening. The stylish wooden interior and tasteful background music creates that upmarket feeling which is lapped up by the mostly expat and local crowd who don’t mind splashing the cash – and the quality is well-worth the extra Kip.
Spirit House is an especially good place to come and watch the sunset over the Mekong whilst sipping a drink from their range of international beers, wines and (as the name would suggest) spirits. Food is served throughout the day, and you’ll find everything from burgers to sushi on their impressive menu.
- Opening Hours: 07:00 - 23:00
- Address: Beau Rivage Hotel, 09/093, Fa Ngum Road, Baan Seetarn Neua, Sikhottabong District, Vientiane
Bor Pen Nyang is the most well-known bar in the whole of town - a title earned thanks in no small part to its ideal fourth-floor location overlooking the stunning Mekong River. Vientiane is a popular destination for solo-travellers, and Bor Pen Nyang’s mix of backpackers, expats (many of whom are in town to make their visas), and chatty locals just might make this one of the best spots to spark up a lively conversation with a friendly stranger – all in a great setting. Although scoring highly in our books for atmosphere and views, Bor Pen Nyang loses marks for its worn-out decor and uninspiring menu of $US4 burgers, baguettes and microwave pizzas. Read More...
- Location: On Th. Setthathilath, near Nam Pu Fountain Bor Pen Nyang, Fah Ngum Rd, Wat Chanh, Vientiane
- Tel: 020 5580 8281
Vientiane is not exactly a party destination; neither is it showing any real signs of ever becoming one. Flying one of the solitary flags for the party-lovers, however, is Future Nightclub on Luang Prabang Road, just past the Novotel Hotel. This venue has the same kind of format as any similar venue in neighbouring Thailand, and anybody who has ever sampled a Thai nightclub will know that this means a mix of live indie bands with hard house beats played in between, ample bottles of whiskey around miniature tables and no real dance floor. Entrance on standard nights is free and closing time is 01:30 (although this is pretty flexible, especially when things get busy on the weekend.)
- Opening Hours: 17:00 – 01:30
- Location: Luang Prabang Road, near the Novotel (Hotel)
Kong View Restaurant is a great place to spend the evening, winding down a typically lazy day in the equally lazy Laotian capital of Vientiane. This ever-so quaint restaurant and bar is set on the picturesque banks of the Mekong River; arrive early enough and you might be able to grab a table next to the river – perfect to watch the gorgeous sunset over the water. Later in the night, things start to liven up a little, with live music and an inside bar that stays open till late.
The menu at Kong View is large enough to accommodate most tastes and budgets, with an excellent mix of Laotian, Thai and Western food. Read More...
- Opening Hours: 12:00 - 23:00
- Address: 183 Souphanouvong Rd, Vientiane
- Tel: +856 (21) 520 522
Vientiane Night Market and Mekong River
The Mekong River is Vientiane’s main focal point, so it is no surprise that this is where you’ll find the city’s busiest night spot. At the centre of it all is the unmissable Night Market – or night bazaar – which stretches along a good part the recently renovated riverside promenade. The iconic red-roofed market is worth a wonder if you’re looking for a souvenir of some kind, but the real appeal of this area is the buzzing atmosphere, with the crowd of locals and visitors all converging on the riverfront to shop, exercise, eat and drink from early evening until around midnight.
- Opening Hours: 18:00 - Midnight
- Location: On the promenade next to Chao Anouvong Park
Chokdee Café and Belgian Beer Bar
Beer connoisseurs need look no further than the colourful and quirky Chokdee Café and Belgian Beer Bar on the main riverfront in Vientiane. Their vast range of international lagers, ales and ciders includes Guinness, Magners, Savanna Dry, Leffe, Hoegaarden, La Chouffe - and of course no watering hole in Vientiane would be complete without the local Beerlao.
The food menu is as vast as the beer list, and the ‘avec les bieres’ (with the beers) dishes such as mini hamburgers, cheese plate, pork cold cuts, and spring rolls (all $US3-10) are all a tasty way to line your stomach and ensure your beer sampling session can go on late into the evening.
- Opening Hours: 17:00 - Midnight
- Location: Quai Fa Ngum, Vientiane, Laos
- Tel: 02056103434
This swanky little cocktail bar tucked away down a small road (two blocks away from the river) is the place to come if you’re looking to add a little bit of class to your evening’s itinerary. The cocktails at Martini Lounge are as sophisticated as the decor, with house specials including the Lao Lao Shooter and a flaming hot Fire and Ice vodka-based mix. Their busy schedule during the week includes Salsa sessions (Thursdays), movie nights (Monday-Wednesday at 20:00) and the occasional live music event. A two-for-one cocktail happy hour also runs Monday to Wednesday from 18:00 and 19:30.
- Opening Hours: 17:00 - Midnight
- Location: Nokeo Khumman
- Tel: +856 020 7529638
Samlo Pub is difficult to miss with its central location and bright yellow exterior, and always draws in a steady flow of expats and wondering tourists, curious to see what lies inside. The moment you enter, you might want to turn back: the lighting is grungy, the decor is dated and the indoor smoking policy is evidently liberal. However, what Samlo Pub does excel in is extremely cheap prices (we’re talking $US2-for-a-litre-of-beer kind of cheap). They also show live sports on widescreen TV’s and have a variety of classic pub games including pool and table football. Samlo Pub is also one of the few spots in town that stays open into the early hours.
- Opening Hours: 16:00 - 23:30
- Location: 101 Setthathirat Road
- Tel: +856 021 222308
Visiting Vangthong Food Market makes for an intriguing evening activity, great to get a taste of both local Laotian life and food. From around sunset (17:00), the area around Rue Boulom becomes a hive of activity; food stalls pop up in a flash, barbeques are lit, and scores of motorcycles form a makeshift parking lot.
As with most attractions in South East Asia, if it’s frequented by locals – which Vangthong certainly is – is probably a sign of quality. Make sure you stop by on an empty stomach as the huge range of tasty local snacks – including grilled pork skewers, fragrant fish cakes, spicy beef salads, whole roasted chickens and a range of Laotian sweets – is sure to make you want to try as much as possible! Read More...
- Opening Hours: 17:00 - 22:00
- Location: Vangthong Food Market, Boulevard Khounboulom