We boarded our Vietnam Airlines flight to the capital of Laos Vientiane early on New Years Day. We stood out in Hanoi almost all night so being at the airport at 5am for a 8am flight was not easy. The flight was very fast a little over an hour, but the cost was about 300$USD for two people. Once we were at the airport, we head over to the ground transportation and take the bus to our accommodation. Vientiane is great it has busses to take you everywhere you need to go. Around Vientiane, around Laos and even to Thailand.
Most travelers we meet always ask if we went to Luang Prabang or Vieng Vang and our response is No. We can’t get to every inch of each country, especially when we need to worry about wifi.We do not have the freedom to just take off and go. We need to plan in advance around work we only have 3 days off a week. Also it takes time to find an accommodation with good enough wifi. We are not trying to search for the places with the most tourists. We like seeing the capitals and going where less tourists go. I even heard one girl say the capital of Laos is shit. Wow what an entitled traveler to think a city is actual shit.
For me working since I was 15 years old and paying my own bills since 18. Living on my own in the high rent cities of New York City and Portland I would only dream of traveling the world. Many of my family members and friends are stuck in a cycle of high cost of living and the wages so low that it doesn’t allow them to even pay their bills. Not to mention student loan debt. Therefore I am extremely privileged to be able to work and travel. I know this and that is why I am happy to see any inch of the world I can. Including the capital of Laos, which I loved.
Phong’s Apartment- next to central bus station https://bit.ly/2FDSFRA
Use my link when booking on airbnb: https://bit.ly/2U2dXl3
About The Accommodation:
- The apartment was set across from the central bus station, which as I said before can get you anywhere you need to go. This was super convenient and we used it many times.
- It was set in a local area, with a local market/ mall across the way. You could find many foods and items you needed for a great price.
- The apartment however is set in a building that is completely under construction. Dust everywhere, mosquitos everywhere. Mosquitos to the point where I couldn’t sleep at night. The host provided us spray but there were thousands of them. The apartment was bare bones, bathroom always leaked, huge gap in the front door and the window had no screen. ( Hence all the mosquitoes in the room)
- Free laundry was done by the host, but frankly I wish I would have done it on my own. The clothes were locked away in one of the construction areas and came back swarmed with thousands of mosquitoes and even dirtier than when we gave them to the host.
- Getting in late at night was always an issue because the gate was always locked. Owner said the guard would open it, but he was never there.
- The wifi worked pretty decent and the owner provided a Cat 6 ethernet cable and allowed us to hook up to the router outside of the room.
- It was way too noisy to teach between construction and the walls being so thin, it did not work out well.
- The pool and gym where like a 10-15 minute walk away and the host never showed us how to get there. Everyone gave the hosts and his apartment great reviews but really I couldn’t wait to leave. Gym and pool were nice and in great condition.
- Cost was about 29$USD a night, but for the condition and price I think you could find something way better. With better internet by doing a search through airbnb.
What To Do In Vientiane, Laos:
- There are so many historical sites in Vientiane. They have a map that shows you how to walk to tons of historical sites in the city center. Just a few we went to were: Sisaket Temple,Patuxay Monument, Wat Si Muang,That Dam, Pha That Luang,Thatluan Tai Temple,Wat That Phoun, Chua Phat Tich Temple.
Please make sure to cover up and dress accordingly at temples. I see so many tourists with booty shorts looking just crazy at temples I can’t believe it. Don’t push locals that are actually praying for your Instagram shot. Don’t bother the monks. I have seen so many unsensitive tourists at temples. Only thinking about their Instagram feed, it is sickening.
- We also took the bus to a traditional Lao herbal Sauna and Massage. It is outdoors and nothing fancy, however it is a truly a local old school experience. If you google temple with traditional herbal sauna the location is not correct. So best bet is to try these coordinates. 17.945505, 102.625184 17$USD for two people. You can find a temple on google maps the name is in Lao. Once you get there ask any local herbal massage and they can tell you where to go,but these coordinates should be able to get you there.
- Longer Trip: Take the bus out to Loa Derm Som Ngum Restaurant . There you can rent a boat and have lunch on the water. Watch all the locals sing and dance karaoke on the boats while cruising down the river. One hour private boat ride,6 different Lao beers and 3 dishes sets you back about 30$USD. Type this in your google maps and use the bus route: 18°08’04.8″N 102°37’09
- Buddha Park is another fantastic place to take the bus to. See so many different kinds of Buddha’s. Especially the laying down Buddha. Take a stroll through their garden. Plus have couple beers once your done. It is a very beautiful place.
- Vientiane Night Market: While this market is your typical night market full of clothing and gadgets, ( Which I normally HATE) the market has all the prices labeled. I actually liked this one. The food is nothing special there and mostly toursity so I would skip it. However all prices are labeled so you are not going to get overcharged on the items you wish to buy. I am not into haggling prices or getting some random price. I know people like to haggle,but not me.Although some let you haggle a bit. A lot of the items were locally made and really nice.
- Food and drinks: Try all the different styles of Lao Beer they each taste differently and are really cheap. Lao Restaurant,Spendy cocktails at The Spirit House and Bar,Nam Pho Park( This a little outdoor bar and food area which plays live music. It is nice to stroll through. Food and drinks are toursity and spendy),Le Trio Cup,Wind West Pub & Restaurant,Samlo(Cool American style dive bar),NoName Bar. Most of what we ate can’t be googled as we always just walk or ride bikes to find things to eat.
- We took many long bike rides in Vientiane it is such a great way to see the city and find great food.
Vientiane is very cheap. Even with going to bars, buying the different styles of Lao beers, taking the bus, renting bikes and a few more pricer events; you could easily only spend about 25-30$USD for two a day. Almost all street food is about one US dollar, buying clothing or electronic items at the market is the most 7$USD each. Three beers and four shots is maybe 20$USD at Samlo. The bus is for sure well under a US dollar. This makes Lao great for a backpacker, digital nomad or online teacher anyone who is on a budget.
Recently I have gotten a little backlash about why would you travel if you have to worry about a budget. When you could just save for a whole year then travel until it runs out. To me that was another very privileged response. One I like to feel like a local in a city and not be spending money just to spend it. Also I like having the security of a job and having income every month. For me and a lot of American’s I know traveling is not an option. Rent is rising and wages are not equal to the cost of living. In many different fields I know people having issues with this, even with a degree. I worried about paying my bills every month while working 1 full time job and my online job. Working from 2:30 am- 6:30 pm at night. While Ray worked 2 more than part time jobs and online as well. Often working 6 days a week, from 2:30am-10:00pm. We did not do fancy things or over consume items. We lived frugally however like most Americans I know,we were unable to get ahead.
So for having the privilege to be able to travel and work while doing so I do not mind having a budget. Frankly I believe it is smarter to have a budget and a source of stable income while traveling. I personally don’t like all the fancy,resort or privileged things that tourists do. I often rather go where no tourists are even present. I rather surround myself with locals and live like a local. Which means working and some play, not getting to see or do everything,but being happy I even am having this experience at all. Many of my family and friends and a lot of people will never experience anything outside the state they live in.
The capital Vientiane is 100% not shit. Frankly it is an amazing place. Nobody is bothering you asking you for transport or trying to sell you junk. Nobody is trying to rip you off or overcharge you. People are happy to see you and happy to help you.People are so happy for you to buy their food or the items they are selling. Most things have the prices already labeled and don’t even allow much haggling. Interesting fact is most the staff or people you meet will know Lao or French before English. Which can be a little tricky at times, if you do not know French.
You can see so many historical sites by just walking around the city center. Their bus system works fantastic and can get you to so many places inside and outside the city as well as outside the country for very cheap. Not overruned with too many tourists so you can really get a local experience.
I love Vientiane, and while we will travel to Luang Prabang and Vieng Vang in the 2019/2020 year we could easily spend more time in Vientiane. The prices make it great for an online teacher or anyone on a budget. While most say the wifi in Laos is not good we did not experience that. Our’s worked quite well when hooked up to the router. With more research like asking for wifi speeds I am sure we can find a better location. We got around easily with google maps, the local bus app and our Unitel Sim Card, which had decent wifi speeds.
From Lao we board another early Air Asia flight to Chiang Mai Thailand. Most digital nomads love Chiang Mai, however we have mixed feelings about it. Check out my Guide To Teaching In Northern Thailand on Thursday April 4th.
Have you been to Vientiane before? Laos? What are your experiences? I would love to hear about them in the comment box. I hope I have helped you in deciding to give Laos and Vientiane a try.
-Thank you again Vanessa