Vientiane, the capital of Laos, was my last stop in Laos before heading back into Thailand (and a convenient one as it is located a stones throw from the Thai border). This delightfully friendly capital, studded with crumbling French mansions, steaming noodle stalls, and memories of France is somewhere between a big town and a diminutive city.
There is not a whole lot to do in Vientiane. Most tourists use it as a quick hub for flights or a one night stay and actually see nothing here. I wanted to give it the benefit of the doubt. The cost of a hotel stay was alarming but made some sense as we were now in the capital. Many hotels literally had one room left and were overcharging up the ying yang. I found the only spot in the city with bunk beds and snatched one of their last bunks for $3 a night. This was one of the worst accommodations I have ever stayed. There were several really great Europeans which I enjoyed hanging out with…but at the price you also get a lot of really crazy people. I arrived to a crazy drug addict (male about 50 years old from Russia) who was screaming in his sleep.
All of the street signs in Vientiane are written in both Laos and French as this city has a strong French Colonial vibe. I was most excited to eat at the best restaurants in the city. We ate at the cities most famous French restaurant our first night and had big thick juicy steaks with gorgonzola cream sauce and red wine and frites. I will never forget how my body craved cream, cheese and wine! The next few days I spent on my own wandering the streets, taking photographs and eating at each of the cities most famous cafe’s (my first croissant and latte in months was enjoyed in this humble capital). My memories of Vientiane are of its food, so when in Laos treat yourself to at least one great meal here. NOTE: looking in my travel notes, my steak, frites and wine cost me $10 USD which may be expensive in terms of Laos costs but well worth the splurge when you think of how much the same meal would cost back home!