26th - 28th November 2014It took a good 6 hours for our bus to get from Tha Khaek to the Laos capital, followed by a short Tuk Tuk to the centre as naturally the bus station is a few miles out.
We stayed two nights in Vientiane overall. One night at the Getaway Backpackers and another at a hostel opposite (can't recall the name). Both places offered a great place for backpackers to recharge the batteries and meet new people over a BBQ an a beer.
Despite being the capital Vientiane doesn't feel busy. It also lacks a sense of history and culture. There are attractive temples and the residential palace area is nice but there engulfed by large concrete monstrosities that look like the architects have drawn inspiration from using "mega blocks" as kids. I suppose most capital cities have to find a happy median between culture and practicality but it more noticeable in Vientiane because interesting architectural sites are few and far between.
It's not all doom and gloom for the city though. The place is full of great restaurants, eateries and bakeries for a range of tastes. If your sick of rice and noodles check there are places that offer good western cuisine. Check out "Via Via" for the best pizza in town. The Italian favourite is served in large portions and cooked in a proper wood burning oven. Its not the cheapest option but a nice treat.
The legacy of French rule is still evident today in the quality of the cities patisseries. Travellers with a sweet tooth like myself will finally find desserts worthy of western expectations. There's no meat fluff or durian slices which can only be a good sign.
When it came to sightseeing I have to be brutally honest and admit that although we looked at a day trip to the Buddha Park and we heard about the National Museum we chose to ignore both and just wander the streets. It's pathetic I know and we can only apologise.
We did visit the night market which sells the usual tacky, often fake merchandise from sunglasses to iPhones and from knuckle dusters to beer Laos vests. Even if you have enough souvenirs the night market still has a nice ambience and every now and again the odd street performance.
Our time in the Laos capital was short lived but you can't really blame us as the enticing tubing resort of Vang Vieng beckoned.
Via via pizza