There is something a little different about walking the streets of Vientiane in Laos, it’s not your usual Southeast Asian city.
Sure, it still has the food stalls that spread out through the streets, where you remain unsure whether the food is safe to eat (with the consequences being a week on the toilet), I know that I’m always wary of street food.
It has the vibrant marketplaces where a bargain is sure to be found, and the strong Buddhism flavour that is the main strength of religion in Southeast Asia, and the values that the locals live strongly by every day.
Furthermore, Vientiane has other familiarities of their Asian counterparts, for instance, stray dogs that are busy wandering the streets and at times will join you at the dining table.
There are the taxis and tuc-tucs drivers on the side of the road that are willing to take you around the city to earn a buck or two, and of course, Vientiane has that familiar smell in the air that lets you know you are very much in the heart of Southeast Asiaand I’m not saying that’s a bad thing either, at least in my opinion.
The obvious difference when walking the streets of Vientiane compared to its neighbouring Southeast Asian cities in the likes of Bangkok and Hanoi, is the population. The hustle and bustle does not exist in Vientiane and how awesome is that.
To stroll through the Laos Capital means no dodging motorbikes on either the road or the footpath, and crossing the road is not as stressful as it is in Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh City, although you’ll still need to exercise caution by looking left or right before taking that next step.
Walking along the footpath is a leisurely experience too, with a lot less obstacles and pedestrians getting in the way, which means going from point A to point B is not too much of a hassle when travelling by foot. It truly is a great city wander through and greet the friendly locals at will.
To me, being in Vientiane is like going back in time, the modern world has yet to catch up with this little city, with any new polished buildings being a rarity (although they do exist). I can honestly say it is not a bad thing to visit a destination that has a change of pace.
The Vientiane Night markets is another wonderful stroll and is easily the best markets I have seen in Southeast Asia, not that I have been to them all. It is a festive attitude at these markets with great entertainment and quality goods on sale. Even better with the Mekong River and the border into Thailand nearby. Being an Aussie, I just love the fact you can stare into another country from the other side.
Of course, there are the stunning Palaces, temples and museums to gaze your eyes upon and marvel at the history and culture of the country’s work. Every visitor to the region knows that Southeast Asia get it right with their beautifully designed buildings.
Walking the streets of this beautiful city, you will stumble across some precious buildings like the Sisaket Museum and Wat Phra Keow. Although the Golden Palace and the surrounding structures will knock your feet off, the golden texture is indeed brilliant.
Then there is the Patuxai War Monument, the locals are so proud of this mighty landmark that stands out in the capital city ofLaos for everyone to witness. It celebrates the country’s independence from the French.
I remember the first time I saw this iconic structure from several hundred metres away, it’s presence was simply superior to anything around it. No doubt it was built to show its country’s strength. As I stepped closer to the monument, the magnificent structure just blew me away, and then I climbed the steps to the top and the 360 views of the city just capped it off nicely.
It was the walking streets of Vientiane, the laidback city full of heart and with a proud culture. A city on the rise, but one I hope that doesn’t change too much, because I enjoyed stepping into a city that simply wasn’t in any rush.
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