As the capital of Laos, Vientiane is a must-visit when in the region of Southeast Asia. The capital exudes a unique, amalgamated identity. The city is a mix of French-Colonial architecture interspersed with Buddhist motifs and temples. Pha That Luang, a 16th-century Buddhist temple covered in gold, is a shining example of this. Yet there is even more to see in the surrounding regions of Vientiane. As the capital, the logistical resources available there makes it the best place in Laos to launch your explorations. We have prepared the best places to visit after you have exhausted your adventures in Vientiane. Read on for the top day trips from Vientiane, Laos.
1. Ban Nong Weaving Village, Laos
Founded right by the Mekong, weaving runs as a strong identity through the village. While there are numerous weaving villages throughout Laos, Ban Nong is nearest to Vientiane, and most famous of all. Stroll through its streets and you will most definitely see countless numbers of weaving looms in households and shops. Over the years, the locals have developed a strong specialisation in weaving, creating unique and vibrant fabrics. Visit the village to learn more about how the local weaving culture developed, the personal history of the pioneers, and leave with a piece of Laos unique identity.
2. Udon Thani, Thailand
One and a half hours south of Vientiane lies Udon Thani, Thailand. While this trip requires the crossing of borders, its attractions relating to human history in Thailand will make the trip well worth it. During the Vietnam War, it was in Udon Thani which the Thai and American forces settled and built an Air Force base. Going even further through history, Udon Thani is home to the world’s earliest bronze-age civilisations. At Phu Phra Baht historical park, large numbers of archaeological artefacts were unearthed. Make a trip to the Udon Thani and the park for a perspective of human civilisation.
Though Vientiane is a small city, it is still bustling with activity. If you are looking to escape that for a while, seek tranquility at Nam Ngum Dam and Reservoir. Located on the Nam Ngum river, a major tributary on the Mekong, the dam and reservoir is the perfect places to enjoy a day amidst the rolling hills. Near the dam is also the archaeological site Vang Xang, where artefacts from the 11th century were uncovered. Dong Mark Khai Market is also located nearby where visitors can get a taste of local culture.
From Vientiane: Nam Ngum Reservoir Private Day Trip
Duration: 8 hour
4. Nong Khai, Thailand
Just bordering Vientiane is Nong Khai, Thailand. Connecting the two regions is the Thai-Lao friendship bridge, making travel between the two regions convenient. The main place of interest is Sala Keoku. The park consists of large sculptures influenced by Buddhist and Hindu beliefs. They represent the visions of a Buddhist mystic and his followers. The provincial capital is also where the mysterious Naga fireball that occurs during the Buddhist lent festival is observed. If you are in Vientiane during the festival, then be sure to head to Nong Khai to draw your own conclusions on the Naga fireball.
5. Si Chiang Mai, Thailand
Si Chiang Mai is located in the western part of Nong Khai, Thailand. As a largely rural district, Si Chiang Mai offers a different landscape. Covered in large areas of rice paddy fields, Si Chiang Mai slows the pace of life down and offers breath-taking views at sunset. Being by the river, Si Chiang Mai also allows visitors to reconnect with nature. At that, Si Chiang Mai is the go-to place for those who wish to rejuvenate with peacefully and quietly.
6. Phônhông, Laos
If you are looking to get in touch with Laos’ culture, then a visit to Phônhông is a must. Phônhông sees numerous structures and buildings styled with Buddhist influence. Phônhông market is also a good place to visit to experience a day in the life of a local resident. If not, treks can also be taken out of Phônhông to enjoy Lao’s natural heritage.
7. Lao National Zoo, Laos
Around an hour and a half north of Vientiane is Lao National Zoo. Well-maintained, the zoo is nestled amidst tropical trees and vegetation that helps add a wild vibe to your visit. While not expansive like large zoos in other countries, the zoo is home to a wide biodiversity. Most importantly, many of its residents are found locally. This means that visitors get to learn about the local natural heritage and the zoo is devoid of any ethical complications that tend to arise out of such establishments. If you are travelling with your family, Lao National Zoo is the perfect place to spend a day.
8. Wat Tham Phra, Thailand
Another place to visit from Vientiane is Wat Tham Phra, or the Buddha Cave Temple located in Chiang Ria district of Thailand. Wet Tham Phra features elaborate and extensive sculptures from Buddhist culture. The stairs are lined with Naga motifs and that leads you to a cave filled with sculptures of Buddha. The cave is located on a hill, making the landscape even more picturesque. Beware, though, as the monkeys that add to the landscape are used to human contact and might be aggressive.
9. Nong Bua Lam Phu, Thailand
Two hours south of Vientiane is Nong Bua Lam Phu, Thailand. The district has an important role in Thai and Laos history, being the launching point from which King Naresuan the Great marched toward Vientiane in 1574. Beyond that, Nong Bua Lam Phu also has several temples that are still actively maintained by followers today. Perhaps the most interesting, however, is Shell Fossil Museum. The museum houses archaeological finds of fossils from the Jurassic age in its surrounding geological regions.
10. Hinkanna Waterfalls, Laos
If the shining sun is getting you down, cool off by making a trip to soak at Hinkanna Waterfalls. The waterfalls are the coolest places to chill at if you want a day to just unwind and relax. The location is a popular tourist spot so ask around and you will find someone who knows how to get you there. Paddle boats are available for rent and food stores are on site to keep you fuelled for the day.
Across borders and cultures
Vientiane is undoubtedly a small city with a rich heritage. Its surrounding regions are no poorer in culture. When you have exhausted your to-do list there, take a trip out of Vientiane and you will be surprised with what you will find.
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