BAKERIES, COFFEE, ICE CREAM, JUICE & TEA
●Le Banneton – 10 Rue Nokeokoummane; 011-856-21-217-321; organi cappuccinos and lattes in French colonial setting.
●Joma Bakery Cafe Café Nam Phou – Rue Setthathirath; 011-856-21-254-333; joma.biz; fair trade coffeeshop; art- and expat- filled; decadent pastries.
●Little House – Rue Manthatourat; 856-20-5540-6036; roasts on beans and sells textiles.
BARS & NIGHTCLUBS
●Anou Paradise Hotel – 3 Rue Hengboun; 011-856-21-213-630; anouparadise.com.
●I-Beam – 88 Setthathirat Road; 011-856-21-254-528; jclao.com/i-beam-tapas-bar; expat bar that serves tapas.
●Jazzy Brick Bar – 43/1 Rue Setthathirath (Xieng Nyeun); 011-856-20-771-1138; grainy-tasting local Laos beer and cocktails; popular among city’s elite; Old World feel with Moulin Rouge posters, leather and rattan bar stools, jazz and big-band tunes playing in background.
●Khop Chai Deu – 54 Rue Setthathirath; 011-856-21-223-022 or 011-856-21-263-892; nthira.com; colonial villa with beer garden; Vientiane’s oldest restaurant.
●Loft Lounge Bar – 26 Rue Khounboulom; 011-856-21-242-991; cozy couches are city’s best spot to share French wine with DJ spinning ambient tunes.
●Spirit House – 9/93 Rue Fa Ngum; 011-856-21-243-795; thespirithouse.com; cocktails in breezy, Buddhism-inspired house with Mekong River views.
●Ansara Hotel – Quai Fa Gnum, Ban Vat Chan Tha, Hom 5 (Muang Chanthabury); 011-856-21-213-514; ansarahotel.com; chic and elegant colonial accommodations; 14 rooms with rosewood floors, rattan furniture, and private balconies facing tropical garden.
●Hotel Khamvongsa – Rue Khun Bu Lom; 011-856-21-223-257; hotelkhamvongsa.com; 26 rooms, antique-filled; sunny breakfast area.
●Settha Palace – 6 Rue Pangkham; 011-856-21-217-5812; setthapalace.com; luxury boutique hotel; built in 1932.
●L’Adresse de Tinay – behind Wat Ong Teu (parallel to Rue Setthathirath); 011-856-20-5691-3434; ladressedetinay.com; casual chic bistro run by Lao-French couple; seasonal menu might include goat’s cheese rolls with sun-dried tomatoes and cherry confiture or Grandma Lydie’s Special, duck confit served over white bean and sausage cassoulet.
●Amphone – 34/1 Rue Setthathirath; 011-856-21-212-489; affordable, classic Lao fare; decent wine selection; menu has proper Lao dish explanations; outdoor courtyard is elegant, inviting space with wooden floors, dim lighting, and jazz music piped through speakers.
●Ansara – Quai Fa Gnum, Ban Vat Chan Tha, Hom 5 (Muang Chanthabury); 011-856-21-213-514; ansarahotel.com; try foie gras.
●Joma Bakery Cafe Café Nam Phou – Rue Setthathirath; 011-856-21-254-333; joma.biz; fair trade coffeeshop; art- and expat- filled; quiche and sandwiches.
●Kong View – 183 Rue Souphanouvong (Ban Wattay); 011-856-21-520-522; kongview.com; on Mekong River; order papaya salad and watch sun set.
●Kung’s Café Lao – Phiawat Village (across from Ministry of Health); 011-856-21-219-101); iconic Vientiane experience; potent Lao coffee, best enjoyed with condensed milk and ice and sticky rice pancakes topped with fresh mango; eloquent patriarch, 70-year-old J.B., tells fantastic tales about Viantiane’s changing face over decades.
●Makphet – Rue Setthathirath (Chanthabouly District, behind Wat Ong Teu); 011-856-21-260-587; friends-international.org; on Mekong River; modern Laotian food; profits support disadvantaged youth programs; don’t miss peanut and sesame-crusted dumplings with hibiscus syrup for dessert.
●La Silapa – 17 Rue Sihom; 011-856-21-219-689; cozy, candlelit dining room; French-Canadian chef creates decadent dishes like foie gras terrine with Laphroaig-perfumed minced mushrooms and Australian lamb paired with goat’s cheese and rosemary.
●YuLaLa Cafe – Rue Hengboun; 011-856-21-215-214; run by young Japanese couple; healthy, Japanese-inspired food.
●Papaya Spa – Ban Sithan Neua (behind Hotel Beau Rivage Mekong, west of town, across from Wat Xieng Veh); 011-856-21-216-550; papayaspa.com; best spot for rejuvenating rubdown, Lao-style; treatment rooms scattered around garden filled with birds of paradise, frangipani, and papaya trees.
●Camacrafts – Rue Nokeokoummane; 011-856-21-241-217; camacrafts.org; fair-trade Hmong crafts.
●Lao Textiles – 84-86 Rue Nokeokoummane; 011-856-21-212-123; laotextiles.com; brocade and ikat pieces; watch over 50 weavers at work.
●Maison Oudone – Ban Dongpalane (behind black gate); 011-856-21-415-598; oudone.com; by appointment only; custom-made silk cushions, scarves, and shawls.
●T’Shop Lai Gallery – Rue Vat Inpeng; 011-856-21-223-178; laococo.com/tshoplai.htm; French-run, retro-apothecary-meets-home-decor shop.
SIGHTS & SITES
●Chao Anouvong Park – along Mekong River; large bronze statue of great King Chao Anouvong, regnal name Chaiya Sethathirath V.
●Cooperative Orthotic & Prothetic Enterprise (COPE) – Rue Khouvieng; 011-856-21-218-427; copelaos.org; art installations, interactive exhibits, and documents tell troubling story of unexploded ordnance in Laos.
●Cycle Tour – explore Vientiane’s quiet lanes by bicycle (rentable around town for about $5 daily); start by heading southeast on Rue Setthathirath Street (regal colonial villas); turn left on Rue Lanexang (leads to Patuxai arch); continue about 2 miles northeast on 23 Rue Singha to Pha That Luang; loop back to tranquil, crumbling 190-year-old Wat Sisaket (corner of Lanexang and Setthathirat), one of the few temples to survive the Siamese razing of the city in 1828.
●Lao Bowling Center – Rue Khounboulom; 011-856-21-218-661; stays open late on weekends; must-do, camp-y experience.
●Patuxai Arch – Rue Lane Xang; laos-travel-guide.com/patuxai.html; literally means “Triumph Gate” or “Victory Gate”; war monument dedicated to those who fought in struggle for independence from France; climb 5 flights to top floor for panoramic city view.
●Pha That Luang – Muang Saisettha (at Rue That Luang’s end); laos-travel-guide.com/pha-that-luang.html; giant stupa lined in gold; walk around it 3 times to stay in Buddha’s good graces.
●Wat Sisaket – corner of Lanexang and Setthathirat; among few temples to survive city’s Siamese razing in 1828; built between 1819-1824 by Chao Anou; in dire need of face-lift.