Many travelers regard Vientiane, perched on the Mekong River’s left bank, as Laos’ business-focused capital or a stopover en route to Luang Prabang or adventure-driven Vang Vieng. However, as the old saying goes, to know it is to love it. Expats who call Laos home — such as professional guides Andrea Vinsonneau (of ExoTravel) and Lee Sheridan, and photographer/author Jane Thomas (Books & Bicycles) — insist it deserves far more attention than a quick meal, a good night’s rest and a stroll through its fusion of French Colonial and Laotian architecture.
Like any Southeast Asian capital, Vientiane has impressive historic buildings (Presidential Palace, Lao National Cultural Hall), gilded Buddhist temples (Wat Chan and Wat Sisaket, the city’s oldest surviving monastery) and bustling night markets. However, the expats and Remote Lands’ Vientiane expert, Inthy Deuansavanh, note that if you dig deeper into Riverside’s narrow lanes and residential streets beyond the river promenade and main roads, the cafés, spas, shops and art galleries read as “best-kept secrets” instead of boxes to check off on one’s itinerary.
Exploring Lao National Museum first provides a greater appreciation of Vientiane’s hidden small museums and galleries, some weaving in shopping or dining. Lao Textile Museum contextualizes the artistry and history of Laos’ textile industry, while Oot Ni Art Gallery showcases antique decorative arts. The Iccat Art Gallery spotlights up-and-coming Lao artists, as does The Secret Art & Wine Bar … but with a sweet French café backdrop. The COPE Visitor Center, where victims of wars and bombings received prosthetics, delivers a thought-provoking delve into the wars’ human toll.
Boutiques specializing in hand-crafted investment fashion, accessories and home décor offer an enchanting antidote to night market souvenirs, especially as they support local artists, communities and the environment. Favorites include Birds Follow Spring’s reclaimed wood pieces; Ministry of Silk’s clothing; Caruso Lao’s furniture; Her Works’ accessories created by Laos’ ethnic tribe artisans; Le Comptoir de Vientiane’s exquisite serving pieces; and T’Shop Lai Gallery’s fragrant skincare crafted from sustainable, locally sourced botanicals.
Laos’ favorable exchange rate makes the neighborhood’s splurge-worthy joie de vivre even more appealing. While street food abounds, restaurants such as 3 Merchants, Kitchen Lounge by Manoi, Kualao, The Living Library, Amphone and Doi Khai Noi reflect the future of Southeast Asian cuisine. French fare with regional twists surfaces at crêpe shop Suzette and L’Adresse de Tinay. Choice hotels Settha Palace and Green Park Boutique bring luxury, authenticity and lush landscaping, adding to Vientiane’s sense of place.
It’s time to start dreaming of your next trip. Here’s some destination inspiration for you. Take a visual journey through Santorini, Greece, with us.
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COJE Management Group raised the bar when it comes to cuisine and cocktails. The Boston-based group, founded by Chris Jamison and Mark Malatesta, offers guests the ultimate dining experience with old-world hospitality and an array of cuisines for every guest to enjoy. With culinary director Tom Berry incorporating the cuisines he encountered during his travels to South America, Cuba, Japan, Southeast Asia and France, each restaurant has distinguished itself as a must for anyone visiting Boston and each is designed exclusively in-house using inspiration from different regions and countries around the world.
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With Martin Luther King, Jr. Day on Monday, Plant Riverside District, also known as Savannah’s Entertainment District, is officially dedicating a park to Martin Luther King, Jr. Located on the Savannah riverfront, Plant Riverside District will hold a ceremony to unveil a commissioned bronze monument dedicated to the late Civil Rights leader.
Situated in County Clare, Ireland, Dromoland Castle offers guests its Linger for Longer deal to experience the west of Ireland in medieval luxury. Guests who book a two-night stay this January or February will receive a complimentary third night at the 16th-century castle.
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For guests wanting the ultimate VIP experience at this year’s Super Bowl, QuintEvents offers an exclusive opportunity. Guests can choose from a variety of QuintEvents’ offers to not only have a seat at the game but also to enjoy cocktails, chef-prepared dishes with legendary football hall of famers like Dan Marino, and a stay at a luxury premium hotel with a beachside option.