We decided to break up the long journey to the south of Laos with a stopover in the capital city, Vientiane. Unless you are also looking to break up a long bus journey, there isn’t much other reason to stop here. The city is bland, with no major tourist attractions, viewpoints or historical elements. If you do find yourself stuck here for a day or two waiting for a visa for Vietnam perhaps, I recommend booking yourself into Mixay Paradise, across from Mixay Wat. Set up more like a hotel then a guest house, the rooms are remarkably clean, basic rooms have shared bath while more expensive rooms include air-con and ensuite. For $10 a night for two people it includes a decent breakfast, wi-fi, and they have the cheapest bus tickets in town.
The good news if you do plan on stopping by is that the food is fantastic and cheap. Just down the street from Mixay Paradise is a string of great eateries and French bakeries. I highly recommend dining at Douang Deuane – an Italian looking restaurant on the strip. We had not one, but two of the best meals on our trip so far there. Meal one included fresh homemade pasta with meat sauce for Andrew and veggies for me. Meal two was the best $5 steak we’ve ever had with real mashed potatoes, hard do come by on this side of the world.
Once you’ve checked out the few wats in the area, the National Palace and the Laos version of the Arc Du Triomphe, you can kill some more time in your day at the Laos Bowling club. Located across from the sports stadium, this tucked away place is great in the middle of a hot afternoon. Games are about $1.25 per person – just remember to bring socks for your bowling shoes.
Ultimately, as far as capital cities go, Vietianne won’t be winning an award any time soon, but with quantity of good food and free wi-fi available, there are worse places you could be stuck for a day or two.