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.
Galataport Istanbul, a new cruise and lifestyle destination on the Bosphorus in Istanbul, welcomed its first ship, SeaDream II, on Oct. 1. Approximately 150 passengers and crew from Bulgaria Varna arrived at 10 a.m. for a two-day homeport operation before continuing to Bulgaria Burgaz.
Without a doubt, the pandemic changed the role of airports in the travel industry. Hamad International Airport’s role evolved in many ways since the pandemic hit. Now, more than ever, airports are responsible for creating a secure passenger experience. As the gateway to Qatar and the world, the safety and wellbeing of staff and passengers has always been at the core of Hamad International Airport’s strategy.
The countdown to Halloween weekend is on! Are you are still unsure about plans? Do you go to a house party? Stay in to hand out candy? Try something different this year and join Philadelphia’s The Mütter Museum at its 6th annual Mischief at The Mütter.
There’s an aspirational rustic chic/farm-to-table restaurant genre often associated with Northern California’s wine country. When you drive down the main street of Napa, Sonoma or any of the other towns, it appears there are as many of them as there are vineyards. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with this genre, as the quality of the food is consistent and ambitious chefs earnestly endeavor to elevate home-style dishes to a higher standard.
Since its prestige for attracting the world elite grew in the 1960s, Greece remains the go-to destination for glittering holidays. Each step of the journey is enrobed in luxury, from culinary traditions with the highest standard of execution and name-brand, high-end shopping to first-rate wellness locales and elite accommodations, like 5-star hotels, private villas and yachts.
The InterContinental Mark Hopkins San Francisco announced a new amenity for guests in collaboration with Porsche. Porsche electric vehicle charging stations will now be located in the valet area of the hotel’s parking deck, allowing guests and visitors to top off the batteries of electric vehicles while enjoying a cocktail at Top of the Mark, enjoying farm-to-table fare at Nob Hill Club or staying overnight at the property.
GBTA’s Convention 2021 will bring the business travel industry together for the first time in a long time. Once again, you’ll learn and connect with experts and each other, along with discussions with leading thinkers, entrepreneurs and change makers addressing the issues that matter most.
It’s time to start dreaming of your next trip. Here’s some destination inspiration for you. Take a visual journey through Reykjavik with us.