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Vientiane from the top of Patuxai Monument.  <img src='http://www.guidegecko.com/images/spyglass1.png' align='texttop' /> Click for full image
Travel Guide > Asia > Laos > Viangchan Prefecture > Vientiane

Vientiane Travel Guide

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Vientiane (Vieng Chan) is the capital of Laos.

Compared to the hectic, bustling capitals in other Southeast Asia countries, Vientiane's deliciously relaxing atmosphere makes it feel like the small town it is. After you've done the round of temples, the best thing to do here has always been to wander down to the riverside, kick back with a cold Beerlao - the Lao national beer - and watch the sun set over the Mekong.

Of course, the booming tourism industry is changing this by slowly but surely bringing the excesses of Thailand to this formerly sleepy city. It has also become famous for bedbugs.

Settled since at least 1000 AD, Vientiane became an important administrative city of the Kingdom of Lan Xang which means "million elephants" in 1545. Ransacked in 1828 by the Siamese, Vientiane sprung back in time to be again named the capital of the protectorate of Laos by the French, a position it kept after independence year in 1953 and after the communists took over in 1975.

The gate of Pha That Luang in Vientiane.  <span style='white-space:nowrap;'><img src='http://www.guidegecko.com/images/spyglass1.png' align='texttop' /> Click to enlarge</span>

Today Vientiane is the largest city in Laos, with an estimated population of 210,000 in the city itself and some 700,000 in Vientiane Prefecture.

Internet cafes are ubiquitous in Vientiane, particularly along Thanon Samsenthai and the east end of Thanon Setthathirat. The going rate is 100 Kip per minute, usually charged in 10 minute increments. Charged by the hour from 5,000 to 6,000 Kip.

Patuxai Monument in Vientiane.  <span style='white-space:nowrap;'><img src='http://www.guidegecko.com/images/spyglass1.png' align='texttop' /> Click to enlarge</span>

If you have a laptop and Thai SIM card, 3G GPRS access via Thai network is a good option - if there is a signal in the place where you stay, of course. Thailand's TrueMove coverage is better in Vientiane than over the border in Nong Khai.

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