Getting Around Vientiane - Wheels or Heels?

While Vientiane certainly gives me the first impression of being one of the most relaxed capital cities in the world, it has been making a concerted effort to achieve urban development. Its gradual improvement and establishment of its public transportation system is testament to this, benefitting both locals and travellers alike. It was certainly a breeze trying to move around this capital sitting on the Laos-Thailand border for me, and I am sure it will be for you too!

Immediately after stepping out of Wattay International Airport, I was treated to an amazing sunset!


Getting to the City Centre 

If you are planning to take a flight to enter the country via Vientiane, you may wish to consider the new route which SilkAir has inaugurated in recent years. A loop service which runs 3 times a week, the flight route starts in Singapore and has layovers in Vientiane and Luang Prabang before heading back to Singapore. Since the backpacker’s circuit which I was planning to embark starts in Vientiane and ends in Luang Prabang, this was a perfect fit for my itinerary with direct flights on both legs.

It's a really small airport where you will emerge at the immigration after disembarking from your plane. Here's the simple baggage collection area - with our first sights of Beerlao (more to come throughout the trip)!

Previously, tourists had limited options as to how to travel from Wattay International Airport to the city centre in Vientiane, even though the journey lasts only about 10 minutes. If you are travelling in large groups, it may do you well to hail one of the many taxis stationed right outside the arrival hall – the going rate is approximately USD 6-7, on which you may start exercising your bargaining skills. Alternatives included lugging your baggage out to a public bus stop which is about 5 minutes’ walk away to catch buses heading downtown. 

The international terminal looked rather empty when we arrived in Vientiane.

Fortunately, an airport shuttle bus service has just been launched in mid-January this year, which will take you from Wattay International Airport to Vientiane’s city centre at a fee of 15,000 LAK (USD 1.80). It was a pleasant surprise for me to see that the bus is well air-conditioned and seems almost brand new, so it will definitely score some great first impression points with you! As it is the only public bus service which stops at the stand just outside the arrival hall, it will be extremely simple for you to identify it and hop on.

The airport shuttle offers you a comfortable ride all the way to Vientiane's city centre.

As the shuttle stops in front of numerous tourist attractions and accommodations on its way to and fro the Central Bus Station, it will definitely help you to take a look at the route and ascertain which stop you should alight to minimise the walking distance to your hotel. 

Here's the route and frequency of the airport shuttle traversing to and fro the airport!

I believe that the frequency of the shuttle bus service could potentially increase subsequently with a higher uptake of passenger traffic, but it runs every 40 minutes at the moment. You may wish to take the time to purchase your SIM card and get some refreshments at the lounge outside the arrival hall whilst awaiting the arrival of the shuttle.

A Walkable City… Mostly 

Like Hanoi, Vientiane is a walkable city with numerous attractions clustered around the Talat Sao near the Central Bus Station and along the shore of the Mekong River. The streets are well marked and easy to manoeuvre with a simple map. Strolling down the small alleys and broad boulevards in the morning with minimal road traffic, you will gradually settle into the slow pace of life here.

It's 8am and the roads are still empty - it's almost giving me the apocalyptic vibes...

It is interesting observing the architectural facades of the buildings lining the streets, as they creatively infuse the remnants of French colonial architecture with the simple Laotian style which has been influenced by neighbouring countries like Thailand and Vietnam.

As we neared the fancy Western-style buildings and Talat Sao, the traffic began building up.

Similar to the other cities in Laos, the capital is overrun with spectacular Buddhist temples for devout believers to do their prayers and worship their deities. It is not difficult to see the significant impact that Buddhism has had in moulding the country’s customs and traditions.

Check out these skilfully carved, wooden altars with offerings made by the locals!

Walking around certainly gives you the chance to slow down your footsteps and even venture into some lesser known pagodas and shrines to witness well-preserved rituals still endeared and practised by devotees and monks alike.

See something you like? Just stop and explore!

The Lao locals are one of the friendliest and most genuine people I have met on my travels thus far, so walking along the streets presents a plethora of opportunities to have an interesting conversation with the amicable residents to have a better understanding of their country.

Looks like walking is the preferred option of most travellers here - just remember to apply sunblock to prevent getting sunburned (I'm speaking from experience here!)


Heading to Places Where No. 11 Bus Doesn’t Work 

The Japanese government has provided substantial assistance in helping Laos by donating buses to create a dependable, reliable public transportation system in Vientiane. It is heartening to see that the transport network has not stagnated but rather is continually being improved with recent changes made to several bus services to upgrade them from electric buses to new, air-conditioned ones.

Construction of a new bus station is underway and will feature a shopping mall and offices.

Since buses are the primary mode of public transport available in the city, Vientiane has developed a useful online application which is available here and on Google Play Store as Lao Bus Navi to allow users to accurately track the current location of the buses. I strongly recommend the use of this app as this allows travellers to adjust plans to either speed up or slow down to be able to catch the buses on time rather than aimlessly waiting at the unsheltered bus stops in the hot sun. Knowing when the bus will be arriving at one’s current position also helps prevent one from missing the bus as it is easy to verify if the oncoming bus service is the correct one to take by crosschecking with the information provided by the application. 

Locals waiting for their bus at Central Bus Station

While I am an advocate of walking around cities, there are indeed some tourist attractions located further away from the city centre here in Vientiane which are way too difficult to reach on foot. For such instances, you may need to take one of the bus services from the Central Bus Station which is located near the Morning Market (Talat Sao) or at any of the designated bus stops. 

Central Bus Station (note that Vientiane has a Northern Bus Station for buses heading north to destinations like Luang Prabang and a Southern Bus Station for south-bound buses)

Please note that the Central Bus Station is segregated into 2 segments – CBS-1 and CBS-2 – which each serve a different group of buses. CBS-1 is located just opposite the street from Talat Sao (Morning Market), while CBS-2 can be found further down Boulevard Khouvieng. 

When visiting Buddha Park, you will have to take Bus No. 14 (which departs from CBS-2). 

When visiting the Pha That Luang which is located 2.5 kilometres away from Patuxai Park, you may wish to take the ITECC – That Luang – Talat Sao Bus Line (LAK 4,000) to and fro That Luang.
Details of the ITECC Bus Line which will help you to get to and fro Pha That Luang

You may wish to note that it is deemed acceptable to hail buses anywhere along their routes as drivers understand that bus frequency is rather low here and will allow you to board the bus. After boarding, you can just find a seat and relax, as you will only need to pay the driver upon alighting; otherwise, a bus conductor will approach you for payment of the bus fare. 

If you are looking for a more local flavour and do not mind basking in the afternoon sun, you may wish to consider taking tuktuks which can be found in huge numbers all around Vientiane.

If your legs are feeling tired, you know you can always rely on one of these!

Taxis are also available to offer a luxurious ride around town, but in either case, it is important to ensure that the fare has been negotiated before heading onto the vehicle to avoid any misunderstandings eventually. While some cab companies have started implementing meter systems to calculate their fares, the majority still stick to good old bargaining. (This was the only place I saw taxis on my trip in Laos.)

Check out all those motorcycles at the Night Market - I wonder where they were in the morning!

Having learnt how to traverse the boulevards of Vientiane and some tips on how to move around this sleepy capital city more easily, we will be able to embark on our first journey to see why some peculiar stone statues have become so popular with tourists and why you absolutely need to visit them!


Are you inspired to visit Vientiane after reading this post? If so, please feel free to check out the affordable accommodation options in this capital city which have been made available by Agoda in the widget below. You will be able to compare among a wide range of hotels, hostels and apartments to find your ideal accommodation in terms of price, location, comfort and service - to make your vacation a lovely experience!


Some of the links above are affiliate links, which means that I will earn a commission if you click through and make a booking at no extra cost for you. Thank you for your support!

Comments

  1. Very informative post. Felt like I was traveling with you 😊Love the Pagoda architecture.

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    1. Hi Supriya, great to hear that you enjoyed reading this post of mine which seemed to bring you all the way to this lovely Southeast Asian nation which I visited earlier this year. The travelling experience I had there was very authentic and not commercialised, unlike the travel industry in many other countries I've visited, so I would highly recommend that like-minded travellers who love to experience the true culture and traditions of the locals to visit Laos while it still retains this unique charm of its own.

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  2. Such a detailed post..I liked the way you took us through the city using the guided maps. I always love exploring a city on foot or cycling around and this seems to be perfect for that.

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    1. Hi there, Vientiane is absolutely a great travel destination to explore on foot, as most of its main tourist attractions are located in the area along the Mekong riverside.

      To be very honest, I was impressed with the transportation infrastructure Laos had in place, as I was not expecting such comfortable public buses at all. Cycling is definitely a great way to get around Vientiane as well, as you'll have the opportunity to slow down and check out sights that may interest you along the way. Safe travels!

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  3. Hi! Thank you for sharing! It's a very interesting article! I'll definitely keep it for future reference! Hopefully I will travel there soon.

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    1. Hi Alice, glad to hear that you enjoyed my post! Vientiane is accessible by taking a bus from Chiang Mai, Thailand or even from Hanoi, Vietnam. Those are potential transport connections you may wish to consider if you are planning to visit Laos during a Southeast Asian backpacker circuit.

      I've met many travellers during my trip to Laos, and most of them have combined it with a trip to Thailand, Cambodia and/or Vietnam, so it's absolutely doable. I hope that you'll be able to visit Laos and check out its charm for yourself!

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  4. Very informative and picturesque post... keep up the good work... Has everything needed for future reference

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    1. Hi Aldrin, glad that you found the post useful. When I was travelling to Laos, I did not manage to gather detailed information about how the transport infrastructure was. In fact, I was not even aware that the Central Bus Station was segregated into 2 sections, and was confused when I was not able to locate Bus No. 14 to Buddha Park.

      Hence, I hoped that by sharing these tips I have learnt from my trip there, it will be able to benefit like-minded travel enthusiasts who are visiting Vientiane in the near future.

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  5. This is a really useful post, especially for new travellers to Laos like me. Good to know there's a shuttle bus now from the airport, and that I can walk around Vientiane. Will look out for all the Buddhist temples too.

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    1. Thanks Lisa! I was absolutely ecstatic when the new airport shuttle was announced - days before I was departing for Vientiane. It was an absolute game changer which made travelling to the city centre so much easier and cheaper than potentially getting ripped off by airport taxis.

      Vientiane is a really walkable city, which is comparable to Hanoi, just much quieter and more peaceful. You will be able to stop by roadside food stalls to grab breakfast and stroll down quiet lanes to get to the attractions - something I really enjoyed doing. Just remember there're many public buses to depend on if your legs are sore.

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  6. Wow! It's actually a lot easier than I imagined to move about Vientiane! I really should visit, it's almost a neighbour after all...

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    1. Hi Nuraini, my sentiments exactly. I was pleasantly surprised when I discovered how convenient and user-friendly the public transport system was in this capital of Laos. I was not expecting such comfortable rides as well, so it was really a great experience.

      Laos has an amazing culture, mostly centring around Buddhist influences, and friendly locals. My travel experience in Laos came across as very authentic, not pre-packaged like many other countries I've visited. I'd highly recommend this fantastic destination to travellers who are looking for that 'real', unfabricated travel vibe.

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  7. Vientiane is relatively unknown to us apart from the fact that we know that it is the capital of Laos. Will be looking for more updates about the city from you. The airport shuttle seems like a nice and comfortable option to get to the city centre. It is also good to know that one can flag down a bus anywhere, this is really convenient. You have provided some really valuable information that will stand first time visitors to Vientiane in good stead.

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    1. Thanks Sandy and Vijay! Before I departed for Laos, the information I had gathered from online sources was very limited and not really helpful. For one, I was unaware that the Central Bus Station was split into 2 sections, leaving me perplexed when I was unable to locate my bus to Buddha Park.

      I certainly hope that by putting together the tips garnered from my trip to Vientiane, other travel-holics will be able to have a clearer picture of what to expect of the city's public transport network and be able to get around much more easily. Hope it helps you when you're visiting this little nation as well!

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  8. Good to know that the transportation system is improving. Makes the city easier to navigate. Personally, the tuktuk sounds like an amazing way to navigate the city (and gives you a more immersive experience with the locals).

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    1. Hi Marvi, the tuktuk is a local experience which is worth trying out at least once when you're in Southeast Asia. As I was planning to take a 60-minute tuktuk ride in Luang Prabang to the famed Kuang Si Waterfalls, I decided to skip the tuktuk here in Vientiane and save it for later.

      If you are planning to take the tuktuk, please ensure that you have settled on a price with the driver before boarding. Get ready your negotiation and haggling skills as they will definitely come in useful!

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  9. Excellent and Details write-up ! Great place to be in !! I have heard so much about Laos and this is the perfect guide to refer to

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    1. Hi Ajay, great to know that you've heard quite a lot about this amazing nation in Southeast Asia - I'm hoping, they're good things!

      While Vientiane may not exactly be my favourite city in the entire of Laos, it definitely does a great job allowing me to settle into the relaxed pace of life in this part of the world, which helped me acclimatise for the rest of my trip. That's why I'd suggest flying or travelling overland into Laos via Vientiane before heading north to Luang Prabang.

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  10. Super informative post! Oddly enough Laos is not high on my bucket list and I'm not even sure why. I'm sure you'll have more Laotian posts so maybe you can change my mind!

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    1. Hi Amy, you've got that right. I have lots of posts sharing about what you will be able to check out in the cities of Vientiane and Luang Prabang (UNESCO World Heritage Site) as well as the small village of Vang Vieng (with tubing and picturesque natural landscapes galore).

      I can understand why Laos is not high on most people's bucket lists - because it is not talked about as much as its other neighbours like Thailand and even Vietnam. That is why I'm hoping that by sharing my great experiences here, I'll be able to raise awareness of this amazing travel destination. Stay tuned!

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  11. missed to visit this place way back my backpacking at southeast asia. Maybe next time would consider this!

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    1. Hi Assethor, did you manage to visit other regions of Laos or totally skipped the entire country? Laos is definitely not the centre of discussion in the Southeast Asian backpacker circuit when there are heavyweights like Thailand and Vietnam getting all the attention.

      Nevertheless, it's great to hear that you're interested to visit this country after checking out this series, as it really has a lot to offer. For one, the travel experience I had here was much more authentic than many other nations I had visited before. Perhaps, you may wish to combine it with another travel destination in the region, potentially Cambodia to the south or Myanmar to the west. Just food for thought!

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  12. Very informative post on Laos, specially about the public transport system. You have described all the bus routes in detail and I loved the Airport shuttle bus the most. As Vientiane people are friendly and talkative, I would love to make friends with them. Some of the parts in city looks like a south Indian city.

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    1. Hi Yukti, I'm glad to hear that you found the information presented here useful. I hope that by sharing these tips I gathered from my trip to this capital, I will be able to plug in the gaps in the information available online for other travel enthusiasts who are planning to visit this city in the near future.

      Laos is a fantastic travel destination with rich culture centred around Buddhist influences and amicable locals whom I'm sure you'll enjoy interacting with. Hope you'll be able to visit this charming country and take in the sights and sounds in person. Safe travels!

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  13. It has been a few years since I last visited Vientiane. The city seems to have grown quite a bit in that time; the traffic for instance was virtually absent when I was there. Also, the public transport system seems to have improved by leaps and bounds. Very useful information for anyone visiting Laos.

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    1. Hi Denny, I'm sure that Vientiane must have looked totally different a couple of years back. I can totally imagine how undeveloped the capital must have been back then, which would have given off the rural vibes very much like the countryside.

      I guess that is probably a good sign that the country is making significant progress in various facets of its society - with notable mention of its infrastructure. In fact, Vientiane just switched its last electric buses for fully air-conditioned buses just recently. While I was curious to find out and experience how an electric bus ride was like, I was glad that the city's transport was improving in leaps and bounds.

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  14. I like how you have given us a detailed explanation of the place in terms of the bus numbers, how to reach the city centre and how it’s absolutely walkable. I didn’t know about this place before I read your blog. Thank you for introducing me to this place.

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    1. Thank you, great to know that you found this post useful to learn more about Vientiane. I love walkable cities where I am able to take in the sights and sounds and have that authentic travel experience of living and walking alongside locals. The freedom of slowing down my steps to capture that shot I want or check out something that caught my eye is just wonderful.

      As I'll be sharing more itineraries and ideas for food, day trips and transport for the cities of Vientiane, Vang Vieng and Luang Prabang in Laos, it will be great if you can stay tuned to learn more about this charming city and hopefully consider visiting it as a travel destination in the near future too.

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  15. I loved seeing Vientiane through your eyes! Thank you for this detailed, very informative and useful post!

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    1. Hi Priya, great to hear that you found the tips to travelling around Vientiane useful! Transport is definitely one of the trickier aspects of our travels, so I hoped that by addressing some of the concerns which visitors to Laos may have, I'd be able to make their visit much more pleasant.

      Vientiane is an interesting capital which embraces a slow pace of life, in stark contrast to the hustle and bustle that other Southeast Asian capitals like Bangkok and Hanoi have. You may wish to check it out for yourself to take in the sights and sounds Laos has to offer.

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  16. Thanks for preparing such a detailed post on Vientiane. I'm still trying to decide if I'll be visiting Laos later this year and trying to be as thorough in my research as possible. I hadn't heard about this particular city before hand so thanks for sharing!

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    1. Hi Aisha, I'm guessing that you will be doing a Southeast Asian backpacker circuit since you are still pondering as to whether to include Laos in your itinerary. Well, here's my two cents - all the countries have a rich history and culture that may intrigue you, but some countries have a vibrant tourism industry that is much more pre-packaged and commercialised than others. Laos managed to offer me a really unique, authentic travel experience which I had never felt when travelling to other countries, as everything just felt very genuine and not excessively touristy.

      As to which cities you should include in your trip to Laos if you eventually decide to visit this charming country, I would highly recommend Vang Vieng and Luang Prabang which were my favourite parts of Laos during my trip there - as I'm more of a nature person. Vientiane offered an acclimatisation phase where I settled into the slower pace of life which Laos prides itself with, so you may want to include Vientiane if you have extra time. Else, you may wish to take the minivan out of the country from Luang Prabang or Vang Vieng directly.

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  17. It's 9 years since I was in Vientiane and when I arrived at the airport there was no bus service available so I am glad to read that it is now available. I wonder how much else has changed?

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    1. Hey there, it was definitely a pleasant surprise for me. When I was planning my trip to Vientiane, the airport shuttle service was actually not available yet, which left me rather perplexed as to whether to head all the way out of the terminal to catch a public bus or just hail an airport taxi to save myself all that trouble. Just a few days before I departed, the news was announced that the airport shuttle bus was newly launched. Thanks to that, we were able to get to Vientiane's city centre easily and comfortably.

      I'm sure the country has changed a lot. Probably, Vientiane's only shopping centre was Talat Sao (Morning Market). It appears that the capital now boasts another two malls - the ITECC Mall and Vientiane Centre just down Boulevard Khouvieng - which will probably attract more modern tourists who love to have a shopping spree during their travels.

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  18. Great trips for getting to and around Vientiane and some helpful pointers on the different transport options. The tip for the bus app is particularly handy.

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    1. Hi Kavey, thank you for your lovely comment. I certainly hope that the tips have been useful for tourists who are planning a visit to Vientiane. Even though it is the capital of Laos, it appears that the information available from online sources is relatively limited which left me rather unsure as to what to expect from the public transport system even until the day I left for Laos. I hope that this post will be able to clear the air and any doubts visitors may have about getting around this charming city.

      I really loved the idea of the bus application, as it helps cope with the problem of low bus frequencies in the city. What they lack in number of buses, they offer in terms of go-the-extra-mile service with this handy app to allow visitors to gauge how long the next bus will arrive and thereafter plan their route. I'd love to have this in my home country as well.

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  19. Such a detailed post with neat pictures in a wonderful location ! Well I must admit I had never heard of this place before. Hanoi is where I thought I must go to when I am in Vietnam. I shall bookmark this post for future reference since you have some helpful tips and maps there. So how many days do you suggest in Vietnam or only in Vientiane?

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    1. Hi there, just to clear the confusion - Vientiane is the capital of Laos, which is a neighbouring country west of Vietnam. As to travelling around Vientiane, I would recommend approximately 2 to 3 days to adapt to the slow pace of life before heading off to the more rural areas of Vang Vieng and Luang Prabang where you will be treated to amazing natural landscapes and charming little cities and villages all around you.

      If you are asking about Vietnam, it is a really huge country and I've seen many backpackers do circuits from Sapa in the north all the way to Ho Chi Minh City in the south, where they schedule approximately 6 weeks to explore the entire nation. As such, you may wish to plan accordingly to move down the coastline to see what Vietnam has to offer. Hope this helps.

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  20. Thank you so much for this guide! I love discovering new places and I've never heard of Vientiane before. It seems to be a great city - vibrant and modern, but still traditional!

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    1. Hey there, Laos is most definitely one of the lesser known places in Southeast Asia as tourists would prefer to flock over to the beaches in neighbouring countries along the coastlines of Vietnam and Thailand. It is exactly because of this reason that the country preserves a very authentic, genuine vibe that is in stark contrast with the more pre-packaged, commercialised travel industries in regional countries. I really enjoyed my time here in Laos.

      Vientiane, being the capital of Laos, will offer you the opportunity to immerse yourself into the local culture by visiting the renowned temples all around the city. You will also be able to check out the national symbols and icons like the Patuxai Victory Monument and Pha That Luang which are precious to the country. I would thus recommend that you spend about 2 to 3 days here before heading to the more interesting, beautiful countryside further up north.

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  21. Good information to visit Vientiane. Funny to see an asian city without cars or motorcycles to circulate ... The photo must have been taken very early!

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    1. Indeed, Southeast Asian cities oftentimes conjure that stereotypical image of heavy traffic with vehicles revving their way down busy streets all over. However, Vientiane breaks all of these preconceived notions and offers empty boulevards which are really not what we will expect. The photograph was actually taken at around 7.30 in the morning, which is not that early, so I was quite intrigued by this phenomenon. The fact that that was my first day in Laos did not help calm me down from how apocalyptic that scene felt.

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  22. Great tips for planning a trip to this city. Hope to visit Laos soon so I would take a look again at your amazing blog.

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    1. Hi Daniele, great to hear that you found the information offered in this post useful. Laos prides itself with rich culture and heritage pivoted around Buddhist influences which play a crucial part in the societal backbone of this nation. Additionally, the travel industry in the country is not that developed as of yet, resulting in everything still retaining its genuineness and authenticity which makes a travelling escapade here feel unique and different from what one will experience visiting other countries.

      It also retains the traditional look of the city which resembles what other parts of the world looked like back in the olden days - and it definitely gave me those 'kampong' vibes which my parents and grandparents used to describe to me. The rustic feel of Vientiane, coupled with the picturesque landscapes of Vang Vieng and Luang Prabang, definitely made my trip to Laos unforgettable and one of the most amazing ones I've ever been on.

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  23. What an incredibly detailed and informative post! I haven't been to Vientiane yet, but I'm definitely going to save your post for when I finally do get to visit. This will make things so much easier!

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    1. Thank you Lynne! I'm glad that you found my tips and information provided in this post beneficial for your forward planning of a potential trip to Laos. I found the information offered by online sources to be overly generalised and not very detailed, so I was still rather confused even when I stepped foot in Laos.

      For one, I thought I was lost when I arrived at the Central Bus Station but was unable to locate the bus I wanted to board. Turns out that the bus station was split into 2 segments (which I did not read about anywhere online), so I hope sharing these insights I had gathered from my trip will be able to benefit other visitors who are going to travel to Vientiane soon. I certainly hope you will be able to visit Laos really soon, and I'm sure you'll have a great time!

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  24. What a wonderful experience. Any country that has friendly locals always makes the experience that much better. I love when people are proud to share their culture. Truthfully Laos has not been on my bucket list, however, I hope to one day have the opportunity to explore this beautiful city. Thank you for opening my eyes to Laos!

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    1. Hey Kaelyn, it's definitely nice to hear that you're now more interested to visit Laos. This country is usually not on the radar of many travellers who are planning to backpack around the Southeast Asian region as it does not have the sun-kissed beaches which its neighbouring countries are able to offer. Nevertheless, it is a nation with amazingly rich culture and history, mostly pivoted around Buddhist influences which you will soon learn to be crucial in forming the societal backbone and having a profound sense importance of shaping the country.

      I totally agree that the type of locals can have a significant impact on how a vacation goes. Friendly ones will allow you to learn more about their culture and immerse yourself into the society, while crude ones may just effectively destroy the mood and deal a KO to the trip. I can assure you that Laos falls under the former category!

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  25. Would be very interested to see Vientiane. I love French colonial architecture. Also it is interesting to visit a place like Laos that is off the beaten track. It is nice that Japan donated the buses too!

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    1. Hi Stella, it came across as a pleasant surprise that Japan has numerous multinational cooperation efforts contributing towards the development of Laos. Japan is in fact the largest contributor in helping Laos develop its education system and economy as well as create jobs. I was unaware that the two countries had such strong bilateral ties, but it's great to see them working together to help pull Laos out of the UN's list of undeveloped countries.

      Laos is really off the beaten track and is oftentimes neglected by backpackers who prefer to head down to the sun-kissed beaches of Phuket in Thailand or explore the iconic Halong Bay in Vietnam. However, the country has a unique charm and offers an authentic travel experience which is not as prepackaged and commercialised as others in the region. Do give it a shot and I'm sure that you will enjoy yourself tremendously.

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  26. Sharing us these many places to see in Vientiane, I will slip my heels and never forget to bring my walking shoes, plus extra memory cards for my camera. This is fantastic!

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    1. Hi Blair, Vientiane, being the capital of Laos, offers travellers the opportunity to experience its national monuments in person. This includes the Patuxai Victory Monument which the government constructed using the cement and funds that the United States donated in a bid to create a new airport in the country, as well as the Pha That Luang which is the iconic golden stupa symbolic of the country.

      I was busy snapping shots of the city during the entire time when I was in Laos, as Vientiane offers that rustic city scene while Vang Vieng and Luang Prabang had their unique charms being surrounded by picturesque natural landscapes. Yes, extra memory cards are a must - I brought quite a few myself!

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  27. I love this comprehensive post of yours. Very detailed and organized. You were really fortunate during your visit since, an airport shuttle bus service has just been launched. I would love to drive one of those motorcycles parking near the night market, as I'm fond of driving motorbike.

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    1. Hi Reniel, glad that you found this post of mine to be useful and informative. As online sources offered limited information, I hoped that by sharing these insights I had garnered from my trip, I will be able to offer a better picture of how Vientiane's public transport system is like for visitors who are planning to visit the city soon. (Yes, you could imagine how ecstatic I was hearing about the launch of the airport shuttle just a few days before my trip!)

      Motorcycles can be rented, so I'm sure you'll enjoy yourself riding to the more rural areas in the vicinity of Vientiane. You will probably be able to get to attractions which are further away from the heart of the city centre such as the Buddha Park more easily. I'm positive it will be a great experience and an awesome way to explore the city as well.

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  28. Very detailed post! I love having such in depth information about transportation before I go somewhere! It really helps to take some stress away when you already know what you're getting into!

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    1. Absolutely, Brianna! I actually headed off to Vientiane rather lost, as there was limited information available online which lacked details. As a result, I did not know what to expect upon landing in the capital, except that there was a newly launched airport shuttle. I was even confused when I arrived at the Central Bus Station, as the Internet had no indication that the bus station was segregated into 2 sections for different services. I certainly hope that by sharing this post, I will be able to clear up any doubts and insecurities visitors may have.

      Now that you're aware of how Vientiane's transport system is like, are you interested to give this underrated travel destination a shot when you're in the region?

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  29. Hey this is a very useful post as I have been thinking of exploring Laos for quite sometime and I guess every place goes under some changes if you visit them after a gap, and development is surely the key but these places which still have less traffic and easy to commute by walking are the best way to explore a city, you feel closer to the place and get a hands on feel of the local culture

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    1. Hi Aditi, I absolutely adore walking as a means to explore foreign cities, as it offers travellers an opportunity to slow down their footsteps to admire sights which they may have stumbled upon while traversing the streets. It even allows for chances to interact with locals to better understand the culture as well. I had a great time stopping by roadside stalls to try out some local fare as well before heading off to nearby attractions.

      It is comforting that the public transport system is improving, nevertheless, as there are some attractions which are comparatively further away such as the Pha That Luang and Buddha Park that I was keen to visit as well. Having a reliable bus service traversing the roads meant a more comfortable experience without needing to haggle with the tuktuk drivers, so I was really grateful to see that the buses were plying the routes.

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  30. I really enjoyed reading this entire post as this is the first post ever I read on Vientiane. Sounds like a good place to explore on foot, although I would also hail one of those tuk tuks too. Really informative post and very helpful for travellers planning to visit there

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    1. Hi Tamshuk, glad to hear that you have a better understanding of Vientiane and possibly of Laos as well. This is a severely underrated country which many travellers skip while they are planning a Southeast Asian backpacker circuit (also known as the banana pancake trail). I certainly hope that you are more interested to visit this nation that has rich culture, amicable locals and an unparalleled, authentic travel experience to offer.

      I would highly recommend that visitors to Laos try out the tuktuks at least once during their trip, as it is quite an experience. As I was already planning a 60-minute tuktuk ride in Luang Prabang to Kuang Si Falls, I decided to pass on a tuktuk experience here in the capital. Be ready to put your bargaining skills to practice here - then, sit back and relax!

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  31. You know this area very well, so it’s great to learn so many things 💛 thanks for that

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    1. Thank you Daniele! I'm glad that you found my tips and information provided in this post beneficial for your forward planning of a potential trip to Laos. I found the information offered by online sources to be overly generalised and not very detailed, so I was still rather confused even when I stepped foot in Laos.

      For one, I thought I was lost when I arrived at the Central Bus Station but was unable to locate the bus I wanted to board. Turns out that the bus station was split into 2 segments (which I did not read about anywhere online), so I hope sharing these insights I had gathered from my trip will be able to benefit other visitors who are going to travel to Vientiane soon. I certainly hope you will be able to visit Laos really soon, and I'm sure you'll have a great time!

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  32. A fine overview of how to get a round Vientiane. Someone, who goes there would definitely benefit from it.

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    1. Hey Alexander, great to know that you found this post useful and informative. I actually headed off to Vientiane rather lost, as there was limited information available online which lacked details. As a result, I did not know what to expect upon landing in the capital, except that there was a newly launched airport shuttle. I was even confused when I arrived at the Central Bus Station, as the Internet had no indication that the bus station was segregated into 2 sections for different services. I certainly hope that by sharing this post, I will be able to clear up any doubts and insecurities visitors may have.

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  33. Many a times while people write about places, they don't include the minor details like how exactly to commute from the airport to the city center upon arrival. Which will be the bus route to take. And how to proceed from there on. I really like the way you have included all these information here. I am sure for someone who lands in Vientiane for the first time, if they have read your article, they will have no issues sailing through the city

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    1. Thank you Neha! It's great to hear that you found the information presented in this post of mine useful and beneficial for visitors planning to travel to this part of the world, as that's my primary objective in writing this post. Online sources had limited details which left me rather confused as to what to expect upon arriving in the country, so I decided to consolidate all the insights I had garnered during my time in Vientiane so as to create this transport guide to help others.

      It really helped that the capital's public transport system is slowly moving towards online platforms as an avenue to disseminate information as well. Based on my understanding, these new bus routes that had been revamped or recently launched are the first ones to have their routes and schedules uploaded online, so that really helped me in this post as well. Great to see that Laos is moving along with the times.

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  34. This is quite the informative, comprehensive post on getting around the city. I'll save for when I go there for the first time!

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    1. Hey Tara, great to know that you found this post useful and informative. I actually headed off to Vientiane rather lost, as there was limited information available online which lacked details. As a result, I did not know what to expect upon landing in the capital, except that there was a newly launched airport shuttle. I was even confused when I arrived at the Central Bus Station, as the Internet had no indication that the bus station was segregated into 2 sections for different services. I certainly hope that by sharing this post, I will be able to clear up any doubts and insecurities visitors may have.

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  35. I love that Vientiane is such a walkable city! I find that really adds to how attractive a new destination is for me, and you've now convinced me to add this to my list :)

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    1. Hi Bruce, great to hear that you're interested in visiting Vientiane after checking out this post of mine! I absolutely adore walkable cities as walking is one of my favourite ways to explore foreign countries. The freedom to be able to stop at sights which interest me and interact with locals along the way really offers me an authentic travel experience to immerse myself into the local culture and possibly learn more about the country.

      Nevertheless, it is also great news that Vientiane is making slow but steady progress and has been gradually developing its public transportation system to make it easier for locals and tourists alike to get around conveniently. If you're feeling exhausted, just head up the bus and enjoy the comfortable ride - for cheap. Safe travels!

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  36. I just love exploring on my feet. Its a great thing that the city is walkable. Lets hope it does not become too motorable with development. The style of architecture in this part of the world is always fascinating. Loved reading your port.

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    1. Thanks Sidhu! I absolutely adore walking as a means to explore foreign cities, as it offers travellers an opportunity to slow down their footsteps to admire sights which they may have stumbled upon while traversing the streets. It even allows for chances to interact with locals to better understand the culture as well. I had a great time stopping by roadside stalls to try out some local fare as well before heading off to nearby attractions.

      Being at the cultural crossroads with influences from regional neighbours such as Thailand and Vietnam as well as being subjected to French colonial rule for more than 60 years, Laos has created its own unique flavour of architectural design that cleverly infuses both these styles. The Patuxai Victory Monument is something you should look out for when you're in the area, as it is probably the epitome of East-meets-West architecture.

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  37. Transportation is the core element that binds the charm of tourism for any country or city and that you cover it very well from all the perspective by bus, by tuk tuk or by foot. Quite interesting

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    1. Thanks Priyanka. I'm glad that you found my tips and information provided in this post beneficial for your forward planning of a potential trip to Laos. I found the information offered by online sources to be overly generalised and not very detailed, so I was still rather confused even when I stepped foot in Laos.

      For one, I thought I was lost when I arrived at the Central Bus Station but was unable to locate the bus I wanted to board. Turns out that the bus station was split into 2 segments (which I did not read about anywhere online), so I hope sharing these insights I had gathered from my trip will be able to benefit other visitors who are going to travel to Vientiane soon.

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  38. I'm definitely inspired to visit Laos! Great to know that Silk air have provided a loop route, whereby you can fly into Vientiane and out of Luang Prabang. I'm actually surprised that there's so many ways of getting from the airport to the city - i just didn't expect it and super affordable. The shuttle bus looks super clean and in excellent condition. Like you, I like being able to walk around the city and take in the sights. A fantastic and detailed post - have pinned this!

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    1. Thanks Lana! As Lao Airlines used to monopolise the route between Singapore and Laos, having Silkair ply this direct route made travelling to Laos very much easier. I really liked how they provided a loop route which made it very convenient for travellers to explore Vientiane before heading up north to Vang Vieng and Luang Prabang overland and having yet another direct flight back to Singapore from Luang Prabang.

      The airport shuttle also came across as a pleasant surprise for me, as it just started a few days before I was flying to Vientiane. It certainly saves travellers the hassle of needing to bargain with airport taxis the moment they arrive in the country and offers them seamless transfer to prime locations in the city centre that make walking to their accommodations really easy as well. I'll definitely recommend that travellers to Vientiane take this shuttle service.

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  39. I really want to visit Laos - we are moving to Thailand in August so there will be no excuse! And now I know how to get to the city center once we land in the capital. I like sleepy Asian cities and from your post and pictures I think Vientiane and myself... we are gonna be friends :)

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    1. Hi Anna, Thailand is definitely a great base to travel to neighbouring countries due to its central location, so I guess you will be busy visiting Southeast Asian nations which have so much culture and heritage to offer. However, you should definitely check out Laos as it is such an underrated travel destination in this region.

      Besides rich culture and heritage, the country also has picturesque natural landscapes in more rural areas like Vang Vieng in the north and Si Phan Don (4,000 Islands) in the south. Amicable locals notwithstanding, Laos has one of the most authentic travel experiences to offer visitors, unlike the prepackaged, overly commercialised tourist attractions in many other countries. Vientiane will be a great capital city since you like quiet, sleepy cities, so I guess a trip to Laos seems almost already tailor made for you!

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  40. Such a detailed post.. Amazing pictures.. Literally felt like I am traveling with you..

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  41. I can't wait to be in Laos. Off late we have been planning a trip to Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia due to their proximity to each other. I love the way you have put everything together. It will be of great help for solo travellers since you have described everything starting from the airport itself. I am surely going to check your page again when I finally book the tickets. This looks like a beautiful city to hang around in. How different is Laos and Vietnam from each other, the landscape, people and all. Do you advise combining the trip or visiting each country separately?

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    1. Hi Moi, great to hear that you found the information in my post useful and beneficial in assisting in the planning of your vacation! Laos is definitely much less touristy than Vietnam, but they both have friendly locals and spectacular natural landscapes. I really enjoyed the picturesque scenery when I was exploring Halong Bay and Ninh Binh when I was in Vietnam, and I've heard from many backpackers and travellers that Sapa is worth making a trek up north - so be sure to check that out. As for Laos, I adored Vang Vieng which boasts mountainous terrains and great hiking opportunities.

      As to whether to combine the trip, it depends on how much time you have to travel around the Southeast Asian region. I would recommend minimally 4 weeks if you are planning to visit Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia all at once, but backpackers would probably recommend a much longer time frame to take all the sights in at a more leisurely pace. Minivan and bus transfers between Hanoi and cities in Laos are available, so it will be easy to cross the border, but be prepared for long journeys as the transport infrastructure is not that developed in these areas. If you're entering Laos from the southern border with Cambodia, you may wish to stop by Si Phan Don (4,000 Islands) where I've heard great things about if you're a nature lover. Hope the information helps, and safe travels!

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