Many people are surprised that Vientiane is in fact a capital city as it exudes a relaxed atmosphere and small town charm. An eclectic mix of colonial-French buildings and ancient temples along with colorful markets characterizes Laos’ capital. A morning walk around the centre areas is possible; however the city’s streets are often unpaved and dusty.
Vientiane does have a few worthy sites but the most enjoyable approach to explore the city is to simply wander around; take a peek at the markets or visit some of the many temples where friendly resident monks will be delighted to chat. At dusk, almost everyone heads toward the Mekong river bank to watch the spectacular sunsets. Many small bars along the riverbank welcome visitors to gaze across to Thailand.
Due to recent isolation from the rest of the world, Laos retains some elements of its colonial heritage. Most surprisingly, the capital is populated with a high density of good restaurants and bars. Vientiane has international food suitable for almost any palate; meanwhile the local spicy delicacies are also popular.