Tuesday, August 20, 2013

10 Small Tips For Backpacking In Vientiane

Just some small tips for backpacking in the city of Vientiane, Laos
Mekong Riverfront

1. Vientiane is an old city and has everything in it cheap. From food to transportation to beer and to almost everything but the laid back atmosphere of this city is what makes it charming. The absence of commercialized establishments like McDonalds and Starbucks made me feel that the city is still untouched and should stay the way it is. There is only one mall and it is filled with local jewellery shops, banks, bargain stores and local coffee shops.
Lao National Museum. One of the oldest buildings in Vientiane.
2. There are tons of guest houses and budget hotels but these establishments are quite strict with check in and check out times. I arrived 10 AM at the iHouse hotel and was asked to come back at 2 PM because that is the check in time. But then I just came back at 1 PM and I manage to persuade the receptionist to have me check in already. Well since you are travelling on a budget, you cannot really expect more from what you paid for.
3. Wifi is free in most restaurants, hotels and coffee shops so you can stay connected anytime, anywhere.
4. The city has lesser motorbikes unlike in Vietnam which makes traffic less.
One of the junctions in the city center
5. Rent a bike from bike rentals near the Mekong Riverfront or Mekong Promenade (facing the river) they rent out bikes for 10000 Kip (1 USD) for 24 hours and they provid locks for the bike. Getting around Vientiane on a bike is worth a try. But be mindful when parking your bike, locals say that bikes are being stolen here sometimes.
The bike I rented
6. If you are a coffee lover, try Sinouk Cafe at Rue Francois Ngin (Francois Ngin Road). They probably have the best coffee in town and is located near the Mekong Riverfront and the night market is also accessible from the coffee shop
Sinouk Coffeeshop
7. If you are a beer drinker, trying Beer Lao is not that bad. But San Miguel Beer is still the best tasting for me so come to the Philippines.
8. Even though I said biking is a good option, walking around is also good as most tourist spots are quite near from the city center except for Patuxai Monument and Pha That Luang (their national monument) which can be accessed by biking or taking a tuktuk.
Patuxai Monument
9. There are quite a number of second hand bookshops but they also have Monument Bookshop which is the only store that sells brand new English and French books.
Monument Bookshop
10. Just relax. The city is quiet and only have few things to offer but the oldness of the city is a reminder of how living simple in the olden days is better than skyscrapers in the modern city where you came from.
Ho Pra Keo, a very old Buddhist Temple.

Although the city has little to offer, travel your way to Luang Prabang and be mesmerized by this UNESCO heritage site and retire there for good.


Vientiane, Laos
August 15 & 16, 2013

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