NOTES ON VIENTIANE, LAOS
// May 27, 2008
// Posted in Uncategorized
On my recent trip to Southeast Asia, I fell head over heels in love with Vientiane, the dreamy capital city of Laos. I only wish I had given myself more time to appreciate it – I fell victim to the impulse of many travelers who rush to Luang Prabang, but if I could do it again, I would give myself more time to fully enjoy Vientiane. While the monuments and temples were interesting, it was the slice-of-life aspect of the city that I relished – watching the locals zip along on their mopeds to work, the quiet side streets where vendors chatted easily on low stools, and the generally relaxed atmosphere. There is still some lingering evidence of the French colonial influence but it has melded with the strong traditions and rich culture of Laos to create a city with an entirely distinctive and very appealing flavor.
I think my favorite aspect of Vientiane was the refreshing absence of any evidence of global capitalism – how rare to see not a single Starbucks or McDonald’s in a country’s largest city! I also loved our hotel, the Settha Palace; Vientiane’s most upscale property is elegant but not at all ostentatious, with four-poster beds and tall windows in the rooms and a pleasant pool to escape the midday heat. If I do get a chance to return to Laos, I will head straight to Vientiane and give myself enough time (at least three nights) to fully enjoy all this lovely city has to offer.
– Christina Stubbs