Xmas in Vientiane, Laos (now inc Trip Report)

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arjay
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Xmas in Vientiane, Laos (now inc Trip Report)

Post by arjay » December 8, 2010, 2:08 pm

Does anyone know if anything special takes place in Vientiane over the Xmas and New Year periods?

For example, special lunches or dinners on Xmas day, or special entertainment.

A change of scenery might be nice .



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Re: Xmas in Vientiane, Laos

Post by rufus » December 8, 2010, 5:55 pm

Yes, the Lao Plaza and I think the Novotel also have a Christmas dinner. There is also a Boxing Day lunch at Lao Plaza which is nice. We went to the Lao Plaza last year and enjoyed it, but it is better with a group. I would say join us this year, but we are not going due to the imminent arrival of a new family member.
Some of the restaurants in town will probably have special dinners, but these haven't been announced yet. La Addresse du Tinay in the Lao Paris Hotel usually do, and their food is excellent

If you wish you can pm me and I will give you more detail in terms of costs etc when I learn something new.

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Re: Xmas in Vientiane, Laos - Trip Report

Post by arjay » January 1, 2011, 10:50 am

I thought the following copy of a report on my trip to Vientiane over Xmas maybe of interest to some members. It was written to family and friends, who are thinking of visiting Vientiane, so may seem a bit too preoccupied with costs and how long to stay.

I thought Vientiane had come up market quite a bit, since I last visited it, some 3 or 4 years ago.

The roads had been much improved and all now surfaced. The whole river frontage is currently undergoing re development. The city had quite a lot of traffic and some congestion around the Morning Market area, though the more historic central near riverside area was reasonably ok and one could walk about without too much traffic hassle. That is certainly the area to stay, as it is quiet and has many shops, restaurants and places to drink, many in colonial style buildings, all on your doorstep.

I found those roads with their colonial style houses and buildings (many with the old style wooden shutters on the windows) the most attractive and rewarding to wander around. Those shops/buildings mainly sold things like antique/period things inc souvenirs, Laos materials, silks & clothing, furniture, restaurants, wine shops, hotels and guest houses. There were several new coffee shops (with AC) and many new hotels.

The accommodation was more expensive than Thailand, though with many modest but good quality hotels . I stayed in the Souphaphone at $22 pn, or 650 baht pn, for a double room. I believe there was a cheaper single room/bed option. There were cheaper hotels, though generally with smaller rooms. Most include a cursory breakfast (rice soup or an egg on bread), mine did not. Unlike Thailand most hotels do not allow guests in hotel rooms. Hotel rooms often had (attractive) wooden floors (parque) and traditional solid wood furniture. The Souphaphone added an extra bed at minimal cost when my wife and daughter arrived.

We later moved to the new (Vietnamese owned) Family Hotel, (pre-booked) which looked nice, but irritated me twice, by firstly wanting both my wife and daughter to fill in hotel registration forms, which I declined to do, and then upon checking out trying to charge a higher rate than I had (twice) been quoted when booking. In terms of cost the hotel had a special promotional price of $30 inc breakfast for a double room (internal views), but was IMO overpriced in wanting $45 for a triple room, albeit including breakfast for all 3. Double rooms were too small to add an extra bed!!!

Transport - Tuk Tuks were more expensive than Thailand and the drivers would readily over-charge. Many places are within walking distance, though not That Luang. The Putuxai is worth a visit, its walkable or take a tuk tuk.

Food and restaurant prices slightly higher than Thailand, though I found the quality good, particularly a Pork Fillet steak at 45000kip = 180 baht = almost £4. So eating out was varied and enjoyable.

Many places, including bakeries, cafes and coffee shops had (french bread type) baguettes with your choice of filling. I often had a bacon baguette with salad - cost 25K kip = 100 baht = £2. And a cafe Latte - 15K kip = 60baht = £1.50. Fried rice at 25K kip = 100 baht was dearer than Thailand.

Drink definitely cheaper than Thailand, a LARGE LAOS BEER = 10000 kip = 40 baht = 95p sterling. Though dearer in pubs and nightclubs etc. Wine was cheap.

I found a place with a Happy Hour, - 2 for the price of one, thus 2 glasses of wine for 20K kip = 80 baht = £1.90

Many things and some restaurants and hotels were priced or would provide bills, in 3 currencies, - Lao Kip (pronounced Kgeep), Thai baht and US Dollars. Change would be given either in the one you tendered or more usually in Kip. Thai baht and dollars were readily accepted, Dollars more usually for higher priced things. Tuk tuks would accept baht or Kip.

Nightlife consisted of a few pub/bars where tourists and locals inc some girls would gather, - those would all close by midnight, as did everything, apart from one pub (the Samlo) and a couple of large noisy smokey late night discos in hotels, (so I was told as I didn't visit the latter). Hotel doors were often closed by midnight (though not locked) and the streets almost deserted, apart from near the odd late night venues.

It would make a good short stop tourist place to visit, though I would not recommend it as a place to stay for more than a couple of nights. It provides a pleasant place to hang out for a couple of days for some wining and dining. There were many tourists there, including graduates & backpackers on their world trips, couples, and families, as well as farangs from Thailand renewing their visas, and Thai tourists. Understandably the French represented a significant proportion of visitors, as well as resident foreigners, and many of the restaurants were either French or had a strong French influence.

I bumped into some "Udonites" at the Hare & Hound pub (yes only one hound), do their visa run stayovers.

So overall worth a short visit. For some I suspect it was a case of ticking the box to say they had been to Laos. I still wouldn't want to live there though.

The procedure for getting the visa on arrival at the bridge had been improved. This time, after filling in the visa application & handing it in with photo, passport and $35, upon collecting my passport with the visa, after a 5 minute wait, my passport was already stamped in, and I only needed to walk through/past the Immigration booths, no further queuing waiting or stamping was necessary.

I then fended off the various taxi, mini-bus and tuk tuk drivers, (asking from 300 down to 150 baht for the trip into Vientiane - about 25 kms and 25 minutes), and instead capitalised on a passing Songtheaw who only asked 50 baht for the shared trip into the city. After dropping others off at the Thai Embassy and Morning market, I then understandably had to pay further 50 baht for him to take me on to my chosen hotel.

I made a very good choice for Xmas Day lunch - an International buffet style "Brunch" at the 4 star Lao Plaza Hotel, which included anything and everything you could want, including Roast Turkey, Western food, and even salmon, seafood, Sushi, Japanese, Chinese, Thai and Lao food, vegetables, salads, rice dishes, along with mini Xmas puddings, a variety of small cakes, stolzenburgs(?), ice cream for the sprogs, and unlimited free draft Lao beer, and from a musical perspective a trio/small band, playing a selection of mainly western music, a group of about 12 girls dressed as "Santas" singing Happy Xmas and a visiting father Xmas. So we wandered in about 11.30am and staggered out about 2.30pm.
Cost 200,000kip = 800 baht = £16++ (plus tax and service) (170,000 kip for children).

On Boxing day we discovered a local wine shop/cellar, and spent an hour or so sampling/drinking wine, chatting with the French owner and his Lao wife and purchasing a bottle of French Brandy, a bottle of Port and a bottle of French Red wine all for a cost of 1500 baht including the wine/drinks.

I think that about sums up our little trip.

Regards to all and may you have a Happy New year.

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Re: Xmas in Vientiane, Laos (now inc Trip Report)

Post by sissor-mouth » January 1, 2011, 6:09 pm

i personally love vientiane nice place and can feel the french influence however quite expensive there due to they don't manufacture only import that has affect on retail prices

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Re: Xmas in Vientiane, Laos (now inc Trip Report)

Post by rufus » January 2, 2011, 10:43 am

Some comments:
I don't find it "quite expensive", though I will admit some things are dearer than in Thailand. Western food, and alcohol of course, is quite a good deal cheaper than in Thailand. Arjay, if you think the traffic is bad, you should try to drive home at about 4.30 on a weekday; I would say the traffic has trebled in the 5 years that I have been here. The same thing can be said for the cost of land; rents have gone up by at least 50% and you can thank the damn NGOs for that.
I have lived in Thailand, and now here for 5 years. I consider the people to be far friendlier and easier to work/deal with than Thais. It is a pleasant place to live.
Next time drop into Gecko Wines, just past Kob Jai Der. I do some work for them; we sell only Ausytralian wines. Regarding nightlife - it certainly does NOT close down at midnight; you need to now where to go. Don Chan Palace, for example, goes through till about 4.00 am. There are others that stay open nearly as late - a nice venue called the Galaxy has just opened and they have very good live music.

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Re: Xmas in Vientiane, Laos (now inc Trip Report)

Post by arjay » January 2, 2011, 1:50 pm

Rufus wrote:Regarding nightlife - it certainly does NOT close down at midnight; you need to now where to go. Don Chan Palace, for example, goes through till about 4.00 am. There are others that stay open nearly as late - a nice venue called the Galaxy has just opened and they have very good live music.
Yes, Don Chan Palace was the place I was referring to/had been told about, - mentioned in my quote below. The locals told me it was loud, smokey and cold, and 4.00am a bit too far past my bedtime, thus I didn't go there. I understand that the Novotel also has a disco, and that there is a Daweng Dang somewhere about. I spotted the Galaxy place, it looked like it had just opened.
apart from one pub (the Samlo) and a couple of large noisy smokey late night discos in hotels, (so I was told as I didn't visit the latter).

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