Vientiane: A capital city with a grey hue caused by it’s decayed French 19th century buildings and paused economic growth after the 2008 global stock market crash. The large broad streets feel a bit deserted and thus find your travel comfort in the more smaller streets near the Mekong river filled with old French colonial styled mansions. The city itself withholds many bakery and coffee cafés thus making it a great stopping place when traveling down South. I would recommend staying only a few days. A friend of mine went to the Budha Park nearby but it was very disappointing as the park was created in the 1950’s so it’s not old at all, so you might want to skip that. Also, an interesting fact about the Patuxai Victory Monument found in the city, is that the concrete used to build this was donated by the United States to originally make a runway for an airport. This of course didn’t happen and that is why they now call this monument the vertical runway.
Lucky Backpackers Hostel: A really cheap hostel for 50,000 Kip a night including breakfast plus located right in the middle of the city. Find 2 guitars ready to be used and a computer for those who want to get some emails written. The hotel is clean and the rooms are comfortable. Yes, it’s a typical backpackers retreat but for what you pay you get a nice deal. They even have a rain shower head to get you nice scrub a dub clean.
Must Drink 1
Noy’s Fruit Heaven: Boost your daily vitamin dosage but also get a good wake up kick by combining it with caffeine. Caffeine? Yes, Caffeine. Try their amazing delicious Mango, Banana or Coconut Coffee shake for 16,000 Kip and you’ll end up coming back here the next day for more. The first taste is unfamiliar but the sweet combination of the ingredients is yumster. I wonder if I blend coffee and a mango together I’ll get the same effect, let’s give it a try!
Must Drink 2
Coco & Co: As if I’m stepping into a hipster happening café in Amsterdam. This place combines all things I remember from my home city plus a French twist. We ordered a coffee that dripped 5 hours long (talk about brewing some coffee).
The color of the coffee wasn’t that dark what I had expected but the taste was deep and intense! I loved the way they served the coffee: a thermal mug and you get your own pot with it so you can sip away the hours while reading your book. Also come down here at the end of the day to enjoy a cool glass of wine or pop open a bottle of champagne.
Must Drink 3
Chokdee Café: Beer, Beer, Beer & more Beer. Wait did I tell you about the enormous selection of beers they have here?
This funny little pub found along the Mekong River has strong Belgium influences (check out their wall decorated with a huge Suske & Wiske painting). This place attracts tourists from all countries as for their large assortment of beers. Duvel, La Chouffe, Stella Artois, Blond and more so join us and see you later at the bar.
Must Eat 1
Makphet: Aside from the fact that this restaurant helps keep kids off the street by giving them a job here and learning them the skills of the kitchen, the food is absolutely to die for! An old French villa with pastel colored shutters and balconies on the second floor, is surrounded by seating areas in the garden below (or inside for the airco/fan lovers).
The menu is elaborately detailed which makes choosing very difficult, as everything sounds yummy. That’s why order a few courses and share with each other to taste the most.
Must Eat 2
Scandinavian Bakery: Head on over to feed your sweet tooth and get a yummy slice of lemon pie while relaxing on their terrace. Due to their French history the city is filled with yummy bakery’s that know how to make their stuff. Also a good tip is to buy a baguette here to make a sandwich for your next car trip when traveling further through Laos.
Mekong River: Walking along the river side sounds a bit more romantic than it started off being. The smell of trash and burned plastic filled our noses with such a penetrate smell that we almost gave up our travel along the boulevard. Luckily we were greated with a view that was worth the stroll. Looking out over the water which functions as a border you will find Thailand on the other side. At about 17:30 make sure your camera is completely ready because you’ll be snapping shots every 10 minutes when the sunset turns deep ruby red, to orange, to purple and then to a dark indigo… Click away.
Yellow Signs: All the restaurants in Laos have one thing in common: the yellow and green signs found near the road. We have come to the conclusion that Beerlao must be sponsoring in some way these signs as it is so evident that there is a link with this beer brand, which is presented in all the signs as well. I find this sign however hilarious, because out of all of them in Vientiane I choose to frame an Indian restaurant sign.