The national capital of Laos, Vientiane showcases the best of the country’s French colonial architecture and Buddhist history. Picture ancient shines, temples and serene vibes amid tuk-tuk rides and local cuisine.
Among many reasons to visit, this city is a budget-traveler’s dream — even with the family.
Firstly, Vientiane is easily traversed on foot, by bike or tuk-tuk for a true tourist experience — for pennies on the dollar. With well-placed accommodations, your family can get to and from your hotel, local landmarks and fun nightlife for free, or incredibly cheap. Of course walking is free and offers a local perspective, but you can always rent a few bikes for your crew or take tuk-tuk rides, which average 57 cents for three miles.
Next, you’ll need to know where you’re going and, luckily for traveling families, Vientiane is full of free (or close to it) fun cultural highlights.
Head to Buddha Park, Xieng Khuan for essentially an open-air art museum filled with giant sculptures for about $2 a person. This is a great way to get the kids outside and sneak some art and culture in while snapping some great family photos.
The Pha That Luang is another must while in the city, and with an entrance fee of about 50 cents per person, visiting the Great Golden Stupa is a steal. The iconic, metallic gold structure is truly something to behold and a great landmark to meet up at if you’re spending some free time in the city and the older kids want to explore on their own.
Stroll down Lang Xang Avenue and snap a picture at Patuxai Victory Gate along the fountain for free, or visit the Haw Phra Kaew shrine and museum for about 50 cents. Other ancient sites, like Wat Si Muang and Wat Si Saket, all run about the same price, 50–57 cents, and are a must for history-seekers visiting the capital city. This city is a mecca for stunning architecture, religious history and affordable ways to explore them all.
Since you saved your pennies throughout the day, the Vientiane Night Market will be a great way to end the day with the family or really any age or interest. Selling artisan goods, clothes, electronics, handicrafts and authentic Lao dishes, this red-roofed mecca is a market worth splurging on.
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