Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Vientiane, Laos 27 Oct 2012

Vientiane is the capital city of Laos, we flew in to Wattay International Airport, just 4km west of the city. We were surprised how clean and organized the city is, for a capital city, I think this is the most relaxing one in anywhere I’ve ever seen. 

The currency exchange is US$1 to 8,000kip.

Our plan was not to stay a night here in Vientiane as there are more to see out of the big city. We couldn't find any map in the airport, the hostel sells it for 10,000kip. Lucky I had one printed out from Lonely Planet, even though it is dated 2007 nothing much changed except for the blooming of guesthouses and hotels. We got to the city center, walk around looking for a ticket agent. We found one at Francois Ngin Road where we could drop our bags for the day while we go sightseeing, we bought our overnight sleeping bus to Phonsavanh. Then we found a guesthouse for our last night in Vientiane and pre-booked it. After which we hit the road, trying to see as much as we can for the day.

We found out that the Boat Racing festival is around the corner. Lots of make shift stores were setup by the riverside, it completely destroyed the charm and view of the Mekong river but we found many types of street food. :-) It seems like BBQ is the way of cooking here, almost everything is BBQed, fish, chicken, sausages, eggs, banana and coconut too.

Wat Si Saket
We pass the Presidential Palace and arrived at Wat Si Saket around noon, it’s one of the oldest standing temple in Laos. The place is now a museum. It is closed from 12pm to 1pm. We walked around the outside, it is surrounded by very nice courtyard with Buddha statues and stupas. We can’t bear the heat any more and took a nap under a tree.

After an hour rest, we continue to walk to Patuxai (Victory Gate) Laos version of Arc de Triomphe. It is dedicated to those who fought in the struggle for independence from France. From the top of the tower(7th floor up), we get a beautiful panoramic view of Vientiane.

That Dam
On the way back to the riverside, we pass That Dam (Lao for Black stupa) Local believe it is inhabited by a seven-headed nāga who tried to protect them from an invasion by the Siamese army in 1827.

Our bus to Phonsavanh leaves at 8pm but due to the festival and traffic congestion, the agent sent us to the terminal at 6pm. We will leave Pha That Luang the golden landmark when we return at the end of the week. We got a quick shower at the agent office before the long haul night bus. The Northern Bus Terminal is far away from the city. When we bought the ticket, transfer to the bus terminal is provided. The extra 50,000kip is worth paying for.

Sleeping Bus from Vientiane to Phonsavanh
We got the sleeping bus to Phonsavanh, as the other option is Local Bus (without aircon). We were surprised to find the bed arrangement in the bus, there are double decker bed on both side with a small walking path, the width of the bed is as big as a single size bed or size of 2 seats in a bus, the length is around 4 feet, not even long enough for Asian and we have to share the bed with someone! Normally they will try to put the same sex together. My brothers were not happy, how is it possible to sleep in this bed with another person! Luckily the bus was not full, they got 1 bed each for themselves and I moved to the front where there is a bigger bed for 3 but I shared with another gal. :-) I slept pretty well even with the bus rocking and bumping around. This is the result from the training I have got from Central and South America.


Taxi from Wattay International Airport to city – 52,000kip/US$7
Sleeping Bus from Vientiane to Phonsavanh - 180,000kip
Note : Ticket price at the terminal cost 130,000kip

Entrance to climb up Patuxai - 5,000kip

1 comment:

  1. it is nice to read your blog...thanks for sharing ")