Laos

City Walk: Vientiane

We started our day with Iced Lao Coffee and breakfast at Shawn Restaurant. We could’ve joined a private tour around the city but Vientiane’s quiet atmosphere tells us one thing “don’t rush” and besides, why pay the tour if you can walk around for free.

We began to explore Vientiane by foot. We spotted That Dam, the black stupa which is sitting in the middle of a roundabout. It looks as if there is nothing special about it since the area is almost covered with grass. There is no signage or any information why it was built or something but I think it’s a good reference in the map to start our tour. I find the area a little bit charming though as it is surrounded with wine stores and a handful of restaurants.

 

 

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I like how the weather cooperated, it was not too hot and there were no signs of rainfall attack. We walked at a snail’s pace and our feet brought us to the streets where French-style patisseries, wine shops, hotels and bakeries dotted around the area. Seeing few bikes outside the hostels gave us an idea to just bike around if we get tired of walking. I must say I find the streets really cool and although at that moment we weren’t sure if we have taken the right way to Wat Sisaket, who cares being lost with this kind of delightful lanes anyway.

We passed by Lao National Culture Hall and Lao National Museum opposite to it. Stopped for a deep breath and no, we didn’t visit the hall and the museum. We’re not really in the mood to go in. We sauntered few blocks away and reached Palais Presidentiel. The Presidential Palace is covered with fence and not allowed to enter its perimeter. I know, I know it’s very disappointing but I’m sure they have reasons why the palace is not open to public. Peeking at the gate, the architecture is nice, pretty huge and it was impossible to take a nice photo with all the fences and stuff. It was quick and we headed to Sisaket Museum.

 

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It was closed when we reached Sisaket. So we waited for a few minutes to go in. It was worth seeing thousands of Buddhas, paintings inside are amazing plus if you’re into artifacts you’ll find it interesting. We also visited Ho Phra Keo, which is a walking distance away from Sisaket. I was wearing shorts so they provided me the sarong to cover my legs. Few monks visited the area, it’s a typical Buddhist temple but I love the scenery. The beautiful garden that welcomes us and there is this part of the temple that I really find nice. Although the temple has similarities from all other Buddhist temples, I love the solemn atmosphere.

Alright, after Ho Phra Keo, take a deep breath because the walk is quite long but still doable. I’ve seen 2 or 3 couples did the walk too. So from the temple, we walked a few blocks and passed by Talat Sao Mall. It was good that we passed the Mall where the Bus station is also located for us to familiarize ourselves the next morning to catch the bus to Vang Vieng.


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When we were almost near the revolutionary monument, I noticed we were walking on a highway but traffic is not crazy like in Manila, Bangkok and way too far from the ones in Saigon. So we reached Patuxai, never been to France but they say it’s a reminiscent of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. The area I must say is great for photo ops and I really think the view is amazing from afar. I’m not sure what the view looks like from the top. I kind of regret that I didn’t go to the top. I must be tired of walking or something and maybe I wasn’t in the mood to climb the stairs. I blamed my lazy feet.

We continued our walking journey, our last apple of the eye was That Luang. Quite a walk, we were really getting a bit exhausted. We stopped by for a coffee at True Coffee. I think I had the best Frappuccino in town or perhaps I was just too thirsty from the long walks and sipping my first frappuccino was refreshing. Their wifi is pretty fast too. We stayed there for two hours and headed to That Luang. I really don’t want to leave that coffee shop, it felt like I wanted to stay for more coffee and cigarette.

 

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Finally we arrived at That Luang and unfortunately it was closed. I wished we didn’t stay long at the coffee shop, we could’ve seen it. The gleaming structure was tempting. We just stayed there for a few minutes and walked around the area outside. Disappointed, we went to Mekong River to see the sunset.

Since it is impossible for us to catch the sunset through walking, we haggled a 10,000 kip tuktuk. Quite cheap and pretty much a steal for not firmly committing to our foot exploration, we don’t have a choice and besides it is too far from That Luang. There isn’t much water in the Mekong River and although I didn’t expect it to be that dry, watching the sunset was stress-free somehow.

 

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Beside the river is the typical night market with a touch of Laotian style. I’m not a fan of night market but I was able to purchase I love Laos t-shirts souvenir for friends at a cheap price. Surprisingly I still have few Thai Baht in my wallet and they accepted it. They exchange it in Kip. The thing I like about the people selling in the night market is that they’re not too pushy and they’re happy to negotiate the price.

After shopping, we scored a cheap and delicious Lao Pho at Kataenoy. We were not sure if we cooked it right but the taste was good plus experimenting was fun. We literally ate at the corner of the street. The food trip was awesome.
And yes, we went back to the hotel with a happy tummy.