Vientiane

Pha That Luang

  • Accommodation: Souphaphone Guesthouse ($30 USD for a triple with A/C and private bathroom). Our room was really clean and spacious, and the bathroom was very nice (I think it may have even had hot water). It’s location is convenient and there are a lot of good restaurants nearby.
  • Restaurants:
    1. Douang Deuane – Eclectic menu featuring Thai, Lao and Vietnamese cuisine. I ordered the chicken with cashews with was good.
    2. Aroma Cafe – We went here for breakfast one morning. Good coffee.
    3. Sabaidee Coffee – Large smoothie, juice and coffee menu. We went here a couple of different times and they got our order wrong both times. We didn’t care at all, but it was just funny because Brit ordered carrot juice and they brought out some sort of white concoction, which was obviously not carrot juice. It took a few tries to get it right, but the drinks were decent, plus they had good A/C.
    4. Cafe Aria – What a find! This place was located very close to our guesthouse and we stumbled upon it looking for something hearty to eat for lunch before our long bus ride back to Bangkok. The sign said that they had the best wood-oven pizza, so we gave it a shot. The pizza was excellent – really fresh and good portions. The rest of the menu looked really good too. It’s definitely more upscale, especially the inside, but if I recall correctly the prices were pretty reasonable.
    5. Noy’s Fruit Heaven – Cheap, fresh fruit smoothies!
    6. Travelfish’s recommendations for places to eat in Vientiane
    7. We didn’t make it to Joma or Scandinavian Bakery, but I know they have good coffee and snacks.

Pha That Luang

To be honest there isn’t much to see in Vientiane and I’m glad we only spent one day there. It seemed like a nice enough city with a surprisingly thriving culinary scene, but it’s so small and there’s not much to do. In the morning we took a 15-20 minute tuk-tuk ride to see Pha That Luang temple. It is a big, gold buddhist stupa and is considered to be the most important national monument in Laos. After walking around it there isn’t much to do, and it was starting to get really hot out, so we decided to head back. We tried walking around different parts of the city, but it was just too hot so we resorted to our favorite pastime: cafe hopping! Fortunately there were so many cute places around where we were staying so we didn’t have to venture far.

Fruit smoothie stand

We booked our bus tickets back to Bangkok through our guesthouse. The tickets were 800 baht/each. I had read somewhere that the buses from Vientiane to Bangkok were really nice and had fully reclining seats, toilets, dinner and wifi on board, plus they dropped you off close to Khao San Road. It sounded too good to be true, and sure enough it was! The bus ended up being fine, but it wasn’t anything special.

A songthaew picked us up from our guesthouse and drove us to the border, about a 45 minute drive. Then we walked through Laos customs and kept walking with all of our stuff to the Thai customs office which was very close. After we went through Thai immigration we boarded our bus headed for Bangkok. There was a guy who worked for the bus company who was there to usher people to the right bus. The immigration process in total took less than 30-45 minutes for everybody to go through. It was a very relaxed border crossing and they didn’t ask us a single question.

The bus didn’t have any bathrooms on it, so before we left Brit and I went to use the restrooms. The bathrooms were actually located back over the Laos border, so we just walked back to Laos to use the bathroom. While we were in there the power went out and so we walked back to Thailand in the dark to the bus, and nobody checked our passports on either side.

Crossing the border to Thailand

The bus ride would have been fine if it weren’t for a certain passenger on board. There was a psycho, Australian drug addict who decided to yell for almost 12 hours straight. I don’t know if the Thai girl who was accompanying him was his girlfriend or a prostitute, but he screamed nonsensical things at her for hours, saying the same things over and over: “Give me my keys, I want my keys!”, “Transfer the credits!”, “Give me my money!”, “Give me my medicine!” The driver had to come up and tell him to settle down multiple times throughout the trip. Everybody was hoping he would just kick him off. Brit kept turning around and giving him nasty stares, but seeing as how he was probably on drugs she didn’t want to provoke him too much! After we stopped at a rest area he was apparently confused when he got back on the bus and he started screaming, “I’m on the wrong bus! Help, I’m on the wrong bus!” At this point I just started laughing because this guy was so ridiculous. For the last several hours he was having the loudest conversation on his phone, and I’m pretty positive there was nobody on the other end of the line. We basically got no sleep and we arrived in Bangkok early in the morning, totally disoriented and just wanting to get to our guesthouse as quickly as possible! I honestly don’t remember where the bus dropped us off, but I know we had to take a taxi to get to our guesthouse near KSR.