The small and relaxed Lao capital of Vientiane sits on the northern bank of the Mekong River facing across to the even sleepier Thai town of Sri Chiang Mai. For many visitors, Vientiane is the first taste of Lao food, culture and hospitality and on all counts it does not disappoint. Actually pronounced Wiang Jan and translated as City of Sandalwood, the modern name of Vientiane comes courtesy of a bastardised French transliteration. Wiang actually means "fort" (City of Sandalwood sounds better than Fort of Sandalwood) but by all accounts it mustn't have been much of a fort, as the original city was over-run on a number of occasions by the Burmese and Chinese and was absolutely flattened by the Siamese (Thais) in 1828, after which the city was abandoned back to the jungle. This is one of the reasons why many of the Wats in the city are of a relatively young age, and if the road layout strikes you as a pretty inspired affair, you can thank the French for it -- they laid the whole place when they oversaw the rebuilding of the city through the turn of the 19th to 20th century. Like many of the French colonial cities, Vientiane is characterised by broad, often tree-lined boulevards, run-down and creaking colonial mansions, rustic Wats surrounded by coconut palms and a generally sedentary pace of life. Indeed it's only since the early 1990's that the city has really started to develop. While it's a shame that the first waves of (largely Thai) investors that hit the Lao shores brought with them the concrete egg-carton style architecture that litters much of Thailand, at least the riverfront, with it's sleepy wats and broken pavements didn't bear the brunt of it. Nevertheless, slowly, the Mekong riverfront is developing from what was once just a simple grass bank into a promenade of sorts -- the embankment between the hospitals and the Lane Xang Hotel now hosts a lovely garden and walkway. Elsewhere, the area is largely unspoilt and offers some stunning scenery. The sunsets here are simply sublime. For a capital city, Vientiane isn't exactly overloaded with museums and sights, but that's part of the attraction. Slow down to Lao speed -- hire a bicycle; see one or two things a day; spend a lot of time snacking and quenching your thirst by the river. -- you'll grow to appreciate the attraction of the place. While you'd expect the flow of the Mekong and the comfort of the embankment to attract guesthouses and hotels by the truckload, as with much in Laos, things are not always as you'd expect. The road along the riverfront, Fa Ngum, has a handful of places to stay, and there are plenty of other choices on the roads leading off it but none that really take advantage of the views. The good news is that Vientiane is probably one of the smallest capital cities in the world, so getting around is quick and easy -- no matter where you stay, you're never too far away from anywhere -- including the riverfront. The further out of the centre you stay, the quieter it gets, but this is where you can find some of the best guesthouses. Vientiane also boasts a great selection of Lao and western restaurants and cafes and an eclectic mix of sights and attractions which can all be combined well for a comfortable two to three day stay.
Day 1 : Arrival - VienTiane ( L,D )
Meet on arrival and you are welcome to Vientiane, the city of the moon – an ancient city, situated on the bend on the left bank of the Mekong as the largest city and the capital of Laos. Transfer to hotel for check-in. In the afternoon, we take a sightseeing tour of Vientiane, to visit religious museums of Wat Sisaket, the oldest temple to have been survived from the Siamese war of 1828 and its cloister contains more than 8000 Buddha statues; Wat Ho Prakeo, the former home-temple of the Emerald Buddha statue or Pra Keo, but today it contains a collection of Buddha statues, antiques and all artifacts found in around Vientiane; That Luang Stupa, the single most important monument in Laos, which was built to cover the original small stupa containing a piece of the chest bone of Buddha; Patouxay (Arch de Triumph), built quite recently in commemoration of those who died during the wars in the past and it is today as the land-mark of Vientiane. Meals: None. Transport: Private air-conditioned. Accommodation: Hotel.
Day 2 : VienTiane- NamNgum Lake (B,L,D )
Breakfast at hotel, we depart to visit the Morning Market, the biggest shopping center in Vientiane and we take a full day trip by road No. 10 to Nam Ngum Lake (90 km N), with hundreds of small islands. We en route stop to visit a cottage-salt factory, where natural salt are extracted at Ban Bor village. After arriving at Nam Ngum Lake by noon, we enjoy our Lao food lunch at a restaurant by the Nam Ngum Lake. In the afternoon, we relax by taking a boat ride about 1 hour for panoramic view around small islands. On the way of returning to Vientiane along the road No. 13, we make a few stops at Ban Phone, a village where most people weaving bamboo-baskets, dinning tables, besides we will see how Lao traditional rice-whisky to be distilled, and we can have a taste and take a way. Before getting back to Vietniane, we also stop at Vang Xang, an archaeological site containing the 11th century stone carvings of Buddha sculptures hidden in the forest. Meals: B, L. Transport: Private air-conditioned, Boat. Accommodation: Hotel.
Day 3 : VienTiane - Departure ( B )
Following breakfast, we spend our independent exploration of this charming city by own till we depart to Wattay airport or the Friendship Bridge for departure to next destination
|Number in Group
||01 Sep 2012 - 31 August 2013 ( The Price Per Person (US$) )|
|First Class 4*
||First Class 4-star
|Wat Phou Cruise
- Baggage handling and porterage.
- Private air-conditioned transport + boat.
- Tours with English speaking guide.
- Entrance fees for sightseeing as indicated in the itinerary.
- Refreshing tower and drinking water on tour.
- Accommodation in twin or double-sharing room.
- Meals as indicated in the itinerary (B = Breakfast / L = Lunch / D = Dinner).
- Service charge & government tax.
- Visa fee.
- Travel insurance against any personal injury of illness and damage of the property incurred during the course of this trip.
- International air tickets to / from Laos.
- Departure tax.
- Personal expenses such as: drinks, phone calls, laundry, tip...etc.