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Vientiane, Laos, is divided into the capital city and the surrounding province. The city itself is small for a capital with an estimated 800,000 residents. Most major sites can be seen in a few days. Those with more time or a taste for an experience outside the city will enjoy a day trip to the surrounding province. Here are 10 of the best spots to venture outside of the capital.
Phou Khao Khouay means “Buffalo-Horned Mountain.” One of 20 National Protected Areas in Laos, this park is 25 miles (40 kilometers) northeast of the capital. The park has forests, waterfalls and several villages. Hire a driver, rent a car or motorbike or join an organized tour leaving from the city to enjoy the day at Phou Khao Khouay.
Not far outside the city is the weaving village of Ban Nong. Take a tuk tuk or hire a driver to take you through the dirt packed streets past traditional Lao style homes to see how traditional weaving is done on large looms.
Follow the locals and get out of town to enjoy the local waterfalls in Vientiane. Drink a Beerlao while sitting on a bamboo mat in a wooden hut or rent a tube and splash around in the water. Ice cream and snacks are available from vendors and paddle boats can be rented on parts of the river.
Ban Mai is a small town/neighborhood on the outskirts of Vientiane past Wattay International Airport. If you’re planning a motorbike or cycling tour of Vientiane province, this is a good place to refuel. There are a few stores, restaurants and a temple. If you’re a golfer, Mekong Golf and Resort is nearby in Phou Panang National Bio-Diversity area.
Two floating restaurants take patrons out on the Nam Ngum River while they eat their meal. Karaoke (a favorite Lao pastime) is available for those who would like to croon on board. Take in the scenery as you dine on seafood and sip a Beerlao before driving the hour back to the hustle and bustle of Vientiane.