Vientiane DOs & DON’Ts

Some helpful considerations for planning your visit to Vientiane. A couple may surprise you.

By Dave

Filed in: Laos

  • DON’T wait until the last minute to book inbound flights, particularly from Europe or the Americas.
  • DON’T be afraid to visit in the rainy/low season — guesthouses will often offer a discount and booking ahead generally won’t be necessary.
  • DO book ahead in high season (December-February) if you don’t have flexibility of time, cost or location.
  • DO take a tuk-tuk or songteau around the city center.
  • DO check business hours ahead of time — many shops, restaurants and museums are closed on Mondays.
  • DON’T bargain too hard — Laotian vendors are generally fair and honest and don’t mark up their wares for tourists like neighboring countries.
  • DO use the calculator on your phone to agree on a price — If you learn a few numbers in Lao ahead of time, even better.
  • DO stay as close to the city center as possible or budget for transport.
  • DO try and speak some Lao while in Vientiane.
  • DO treat the monks with the utmost respect — ladies, avoid situations that might place you in accidental contact.
  • DON’T worry about flushing toilet paper or placing in receptacle — if there is an obvious receptacle, use it, but Vientiane’s plumbing is surprisingly forgiving.
  • DON’T flush anything but toilet paper — You will live to regret it.
  • DON’T drink the tap water — Brushing teeth and showering in the tap water is perfectly fine. You can generally bet on water and ice cubes served at restaurants being filtered and good to drink.
  • DO eat street food — But be cautious of food (particularly meat) that is not hot and/or has been sitting out for a while. Food hot off the grill/wok is generally fine.
  • DO consider a probiotic regimen before visiting Vientiane if you have concerns about eating local/street food or have experienced issues in the past.
  • DO visit a local fresh market.
  • DO catch at least one Mekong sunset during your stay here — they are pretty amazing.
  • DON’T forget to smile and be polite — Laotians, in general, put enormous value on friendliness and politeness.

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