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By the way, we would recommend you to combine your visit to Vientiane with other popular and interesting places of Laos, for example: Luang Prabang, Vang Vieng, etc.
How to Book a Hotel in Vientiane
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Hotels of Vientiane
A hotel in Vientiane is an establishment that provides lodging paid on a short-term basis. Facilities provided may range from a basic bed and storage for clothing, to luxury features like en-suite bathrooms. Larger in Vientiane hotels may provide additional guest facilities such as a swimming pool, business centre, childcare, conference facilities and social function services. Hotel rooms in Vientiane are usually numbered (or named in some smaller hotels and B&Bs) to allow guests to identify their room. Some Vientiane hotels offer meals as part of a room and board arrangement. Hotel operations vary in size, function, and cost. Most Vientiane hotels and major hospitality companies that operate hotels in Vientiane have set widely accepted industry standards to classify hotel types. General categories include the following:
Upscale luxury hotels in Vientiane
An upscale full service hotel facility in Vientiane that offers luxury amenities, full service accommodations, on-site full service restaurant(s), and the highest level of personalized and professional service. Luxury Vientiane hotels are normally classified with at least a Four Diamond or Five Diamond status or a Four or Five Star rating depending on classification standards.
Full service hotels in Vientiane
Full service Vientiane hotels often contain upscale full-service facilities with a large volume of full service accommodations, on-site full service restaurant(s), and a variety of on-site amenities such as swimming pools, a health club, children's activities, ballrooms, on-site conference facilities, etc.
Historic inns and boutique hotels in Vientiane
Boutique hotels of Vientiane are smaller independent non-branded hotels that often contain upscale facilities of varying size in unique or intimate settings with full service accommodations. Vientiane boutique hotels are generally 100 rooms or less. Some historic inns and boutique hotels in Vientiane may be classified as luxury hotels.
Focused or select service hotels in Vientiane
Small to medium-sized hotel establishments that offer a limited amount of on-site amenities that only cater and market to a specific demographic of Vientiane travelers, such as the single business traveler. Most Vientiane focused or select service hotels may still offer full service accommodations but may lack leisure amenities such as an on-site restaurant or a swimming pool.
Economy and limited service hotels in Vientiane
Small to medium-sized Vientiane hotel establishments that offer a very limited amount of on-site amenities and often only offer basic accommodations with little to no services, these facilities normally only cater and market to a specific demographic of travelers, such as the budget-minded Vientiane traveler seeking a "no frills" accommodation. Limited service Vientiane hotels often lack an on-site restaurant but in return may offer a limited complimentary food and beverage amenity such as on-site continental breakfast service.
Guest houses and B&Bs in Vientiane
A bed and breakfast in Vientiane is a small lodging establishment that offers overnight accommodation and inclusive breakfast. Usually, Vientiane bed and breakfasts are private homes or family homes offering accommodations. The typical Vientiane B&B has between 4 and 11 rooms, with 6 being the average. Generally, guests are accommodated in private bedrooms with private bathrooms, or in a suite of rooms including an en suite bathroom. Some homes have private bedrooms with a bathroom which is shared with other guests. Breakfast is served in the bedroom, a dining room, or the host's kitchen. Often the owners of guest house themselves prepare the breakfast and clean the rooms.
Hostels in Vientiane
Vientiane hostels provide budget-oriented, sociable accommodation where guests can rent a bed, usually a bunk bed, in a dormitory and share a bathroom, lounge, and sometimes a kitchen. Rooms can be mixed or single-sex, although private rooms may also be available. Hostels are often cheaper for both the operator and occupants; many Vientiane hostels have long-term residents whom they employ as desk agents or housekeeping staff in exchange for experience or discounted accommodation.
Apartment hotels, extended stay hotels in Vientiane
Extended stay hotels are small to medium-sized Vientiane hotels that offer longer term full service accommodations compared to a traditional hotel. Extended stay hotels may offer non-traditional pricing methods such as a weekly rate that cater towards travelers in need of short-term accommodations for an extended period of time. Similar to limited and select service hotels, on-site amenities are normally limited and most extended stay hotels in Vientiane lack an on-site restaurant.
Timeshare and destination clubs in Vientiane
Vientiane timeshare and destination clubs are a form of property ownership also referred to as a vacation ownership involving the purchase and ownership of an individual unit of accommodation for seasonal usage during a specified period of time. Timeshare resorts in Vientiane often offer amenities similar that of a Full service hotel with on-site restaurant(s), swimming pools, recreation grounds, and other leisure-oriented amenities. Destination clubs of Vientiane on the other hand may offer more exclusive private accommodations such as private houses in a neighborhood-style setting.
Motels in Vientiane
A Vientiane motel is a small-sized low-rise lodging establishment similar to that of a limited service hotel, but with direct access to individual rooms from the car park. Common during the 1950s and 1960s, motels were often located adjacent to a major road, where they were built on inexpensive land at the edge of towns or along stretches of highways. They are still useful in less populated areas of Vientiane for driving travelers, but the more populated an area becomes the more hotels fill the need. Many of Vientiane motels which remain in operation have joined national franchise chains, rebranding themselves as hotels, inns or lodges.
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This article contains Lao text. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Lao script.
Vientiane (/vjɛnˈtjɑːn/; French pronunciation: [vjɛ̃ˈtjan]; Lao: ວຽງຈັນ, Viang chan, IPA: [wíəŋ tɕàn]) is the capital and largest city of Laos, on the banks of the Mekong River near the border with Thailand. Vientiane became the capital in 1563 due to fears of a Burmese invasion, but was later razed and looted to the ground in 1827 by the Siamese (Thai). Vientiane was the administrative capital during French rule and, due to economic growth in recent times, is now the economic centre of Laos.
The estimated population of the city is 760,000 (2015). The city hosted the 25th Southeast Asian Games in December 2009 celebrating the 50 years of Southeast Asian Games.
The name of the city is derived from Pali, the liturgical language of Theravada Buddhism. Although the original meaning of the name of the city is "city of sandalwood", as shown by ancient Lao inscription which wrote according to etymology, unlike modern Lao which is written phonetically, in modern Lao, the meaning of the name Vientiane is ambiguous.
Many, if not most, Lao people claim that the city's name means "city of the moon", while many also claim correctly that the city's name means "city of sandalwood" because the words for "moon" (ຈັນ or ຈັນທຣ໌ from chandra चन्द्र in Sanskrit) and "sandalwood" (ຈັນ or ຈັນທນ໌ from chandana चन्दन in Sanskrit) are written and pronounced identically as "chan" in modern Lao. Most academic and historic Lao sources claim that the city's name does in fact mean "city of sandalwood", reinforced by the city's Thai (เวียงจันทน์) and Khmer (វៀងចន្ទន៍) names both retain the etymological spelling, which indicates "city of sandalwood".
The romanised spelling "Vientiane" is of French origin, and reflects the difficulty the French had in pronouncing the hard "ch" sound in the Lao language. A common English-based spelling is "Viangchan", or occasionally "Wiangchan".
Buddha sculptures at Pha That Luang
Haw Phra Kaew or Temple of the Emerald Buddha
Pha That Luang
The great Laotian epic, the Phra Lak Phra Lam, claims that Prince Thattaradtha founded the city when he left the legendary Lao kingdom of Muong Inthapatha Maha Nakhone because he was denied the throne in favor of his younger brother. Thattaradtha founded a city called Maha Thani Si Phan Phao on the western banks of the Mekong River; this city was said to have later become today's Udon Thani, Thailand. One day, a seven-headed Naga told Thattaradtha to start a new city on the east bank of the river opposite Maha Thani Si Phan Phao. The prince called this city Chanthabuly Si Sattanakhanahud; which was said to be the predecessor of modern Vientiane.
Contrary to the Phra Lak Phra Lam, most historians believe Vientiane was an early Khmer settlement centered around a Hindu temple, which the Pha That Luang would later replace. In the 11th and 12th centuries, the time when the Lao and Thai people are believed to have entered Southeast Asia from Southern China, the few remaining Khmers in the area were either killed, removed, or assimilated into the Lao civilization, which would soon overtake the area.
In 1354, when Fa Ngum founded the kingdom of Lan Xang. Viangchan became an important administrative city, even though it was not made the capital. King Setthathirath officially established it as the capital of Lan Xang in 1563, to avoid Burmese invasion. When Lan Xang fell apart in 1707, it became an independent Kingdom of Vientiane. In 1779, it was conquered by the Siamese general Phraya Chakri and made a vassal of Siam.
When King Anouvong raised an unsuccessful rebellion, it was obliterated by Siamese armies in 1827. The city was burned to the ground and was looted of nearly all Laotian artifacts, including Buddha statues and people. Viangchan was in great disrepair, depopulated and disappearing into the forest, when the French arrived. It eventually passed to French rule in 1893. It became the capital of the French protectorate of Laos in 1899. The French rebuilt the city and rebuilt or repaired Buddhist temples such as Pha That Luang, Haw Phra Kaew, and left many colonial buildings behind.
During World War II, Viangchan fell with little resistance and was occupied by Japanese forces, under the command of Sako Masanori. On 9 March 1945 French paratroopers arrived, and reoccupied the city on 24 April 1945.
As the Laotian Civil War broke out between the Royal Lao Government and the Pathet Lao, Vientiane became unstable. In August 1960, Kong Le seized the capital and insisted that Souvanna Phouma become prime minister. In mid-December, Phoumi Nosavan then seized the capital, overthrew the Phouma Government, and installed Boun Oum as prime minister. In mid-1975, Pathet Lao troops moved towards the city and Americans began evacuating the capital. On 23 August 1975, a contingent of 50 Pathet Lao women symbolically liberated the city. On 2 December 1975, the communist party of the Pathet Lao took over Vientiane, defeated the Kingdom of Laos, and renamed the country the Lao People's Democratic Republic, which ended the Laotian Civil War. The next day, an Insurgency in Laos began in the jungle, with the Pathet Lao fighting factions of Hmong and royalists.
Vientiane was the host of the incident-free 2009 Southeast Asian Games. Eighteen competitions were dropped from the previous games held in Thailand, due to Laos' landlocked borders and the lack of adequate facilities in Vientiane.
Vientiane: Geography and climate
Climate chart (explanation)
Average max. and min. temperatures in °C
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Vientiane is on a bend of the Mekong River, at which point it forms the border with Thailand.
Vientiane features a tropical savanna climate (Köppen Aw) with a distinct wet season and a dry season. Vientiane’s dry season spans from November through March. April marks the onset of the wet season which in Vientiane lasts about seven months. Vientiane tends to be hot and humid throughout the course of the year, though temperatures in the city tend to be somewhat cooler during the dry season than the wet season.
Climate data for Vientiane
Record high °C (°F)
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Source #1: World Meteorological Organization, Deutscher Wetterdienst (extremes 1907–1990)
Source #2: NOAA (sun and humidity)
Wat Si Muang
Although still a small city, the capital experiences a major influx of tourists. The city contains many temples and Buddhist monuments with Pha That Luang, a Buddhist stupa, one of the most famous in Laos. It is the most important national cultural monument and very popular amongst foreign tourists. The original was built in 1566 by King Setthathirath, and was restored in 1953. The golden stupa is 45 metres tall and is believed to contain a relic of the Lord Buddha.
Another site that is also popular amongst tourists is Wat Si Muang. The temple was built on the ruins of a Khmer Hindu shrine, the remains of which can be seen behind the ordination hall. It was built in 1563 and is believed to be guarded by the spirit of a local girl called “Si". Legend says that Nang Si, who was pregnant at the time, leapt to her death as a sacrifice, just as the pillar was being lowered into the hole. In front of the temple stands a statue of King Sisavang Vong.
The memorial monument, Patuxai, began construction in 1957 and completed in 1968, is perhaps the most prominent landmark in the city. While the Arc de Triomphe in Paris inspired the architecture, the design incorporates typical Lao motifs including “Kinnari”, a mythical bird woman. Energetic visitors can climb to the top of the monument, which reveals an panoramic view of the city.
Buddha Park was built in 1958 by Luang Pu Bunleua Sulilat and contains a collection of Buddhist and Hindu sculptures, scattered amongst gardens and trees. The park was built about 28 kilometres south of Vientiane at the edge of the Mekong River.
Vientiane is home to one of the three bowling alleys in Laos (the other two are in Luang Prabang and Pakse). There are many upper-class hotels in Vientiane.
Other sites include:
Haw Phra Kaew, former temple, now museum and small shops
Lao National Museum
Talat Sao Morning market
That Dam, large stupa
Wat Ong Teu Mahawihan, Buddhist monastery
Wat Si Saket, Buddhist wat
Wat Sok Pa Luang, Buddhist temple
Settha Palace Hotel, Established 1932
The Sanjiang Market
Vientiane from Patuxai.
Vientiane: Colleges and universities
The National University of Laos, one of three universities in the country, is in Vientiane.
Lao National Radio has a large mediumwave transmitter with a 277-metre guyed mast at 18° 20' 33"N, 102° 27' 01"E
China Radio International (CRI) FM 93.0
Vientiane is the driving force behind economic change in Laos. In recent years, the city has experienced rapid economic growth from foreign investment. In 2011, the stock exchange opened with two listed company stocks, with the cooperation of South Korea.
Vientiane: Within Laos
There are regular bus services connecting Vientiane Bus Station with the rest of the country. In Vientiane, regular bus services around the city are provided by Vientiane Capital State Bus Enterprise.
Vientiane: From Thailand
Wattay International Airport
Older taxis in Vientiane are being replaced by newer Chinese-made cars, like this Soueast Lioncel.
Thanaleng Train Station
The First Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge, built in the 1990s, crosses the river 18 kilometres downstream of the city of Nong Khai in Thailand, and is the major crossing between the two countries. The official name of the bridge was changed in 2007 by the addition of "First", after the Second Friendship Bridge linking Mukdahan in Thailand with Savannakhet in Laos was opened early in 2007.
A metre gauge railway link over the bridge was formally inaugurated on 5 March 2009, ending at Thanaleng Railway Station, in Dongphosy village (Vientiane Prefecture), 20 km east of Vientiane. As of November 2010, Lao officials plan to convert the station into a rail cargo terminal for freight trains, allowing cargo to be transported from Bangkok into Laos at a lower cost than would be possible with road transport.
Vientiane: To Thailand
Daily non-stop bus services run between Vientiane and Nong Khai, Udon Thani, and Khon Kaen.
Vientiane: From China
In October 2010, plans were announced for a 530 km high-speed railway linking Vientiane to Xishuangbanna, in Yunnan Province in China. which was later modified to a high speed train from Boten to Vientiane with total distance of 421.243 km to be served by 21 stations including 5 major stations passing through 165 bridges (total length of 92.6 km) and 69 tunnels (total length of 186.9 km) Construction on this line-as part of the longer Kunming to Singapore Railway began on 25 April 2011.
Vientiane: By air
Vientiane is served by Wattay International Airport with international connections to other Asian countries. Lao Airlines has regular flights to several domestic destinations in the country (including several flights daily to Luang Prabang, plus a few flights weekly to other local destinations). In Thailand, Udon Thani International Airport, one of Wattay's main connections, is less than 90 km distant.
The "Centre Medical de l'Ambassade de France" is available to the foreign community in Laos. The Mahosot Hospital is an important local hospital in treating and researching diseases and is connected with the University of Oxford. In 2011 the Alliance Clinic opened near the airport, with a connection to Thai hospitals. The Setthathirat International Clinic has foreign doctors. A free, 24/7 ambulance service is provided by Vientiane Rescue, a volunteer-run rescue service established in 2010.
Vientiane: Twin towns – Sister cities
Vientiane is twinned with:
Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Vientiane: See also
Kingdom of Vientiane
National Library of Laos
Lonely Planet. "History of Vientiane Province - Lonely Planet Travel Information". Retrieved 18 July 2015.
"Vientiane". Farlex Encyclopedia. Retrieved 25 Nov 2010.
Women's International Group (Viangchan, Laos). Vientiane Guide. [Vientiane]: Women's International Group, 1993.
Vientiane: External links
Vientiane travel guide from Wikivoyage
Media related to Vientiane at Wikimedia Commons
Pictures of Vientiane on Flickr
Map of Vientiane
Laos-Travel-Guide.com Vientiane Travel Guide
Vientiane: Gourmet Grasshoppers - video report by Global Post
Vientiane on Google Maps
Districts of Laos
Samakkhixay (Attapeu city)
Pak Tha (Ban Houayxay city)
Pak Sé (city)
Namtha (Luang Namtha city)
Luang Prabang (city)
Boun Neua (Phongsali city)
Kaysone Phomvihane (Savannakhet city)
La Mam (Sekong city)
Vangvieng (Xaysomboun city)
Vientiane Capital City
Pek (Phonsavan city)
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