Three days in Vientiane is ample time to tour the city, visit the surrounding countryside, and learn more about Lao food, handicrafts, and culture. You can cycle through tranquil towns, see the sun set into the Mekong, relax in a Lao sauna, visit rural parks, and feast on the country's best food. This is how.
Begin your Vientiane experience by becoming acquainted with the city. Aside from ancient temples, including Wat Si Saket, Ho Phra Keo, Wat Sok Pa Luang, and Wat Si Muang, as well as sites like Patuxai (Victory Monument), take the opportunity to learn about the Vietnam War's devastation at landmine charity COPE. Spend the afternoon in Buddha Park, located south of the city, where gigantic concrete sculptures of Hindu and Buddhist deities and devils pay homage to a mystic's vision. Watch the sunset over the Mekong river with a chilled Beer Lao, then sample traditional food at a riverbank restaurant.
The spirit of Laos is found in its little villages, which are home to hundreds of distinct ethnic groups, so spend your second day in Vientiane touring the countryside with a guide. Cycling is an excellent way to discover ancient villages, peaceful rice fields, and unspoiled woods. Alternatively, take a picturesque boat on Nam Ngum Lake; many cruises include stops at the Vang Xang ruins, a salt plant, and Hmong communities. Alternatively, visit Phou Khao Khouay National Park and trek the slopes of Buffalo Mountain. Consider an overnight excursion where you may mix with the locals in a small homestay. If you're not staying overnight, end the day with a traditional Lao sauna and a street food feast at Ban Anou Night Market.
Many travelers will choose to spend their third day in Vientiane exploring the surrounding countryside. Alternatively, take advantage of the opportunity to immerse oneself in Lao culture. Consider learning about the country's rich weaving traditions with a workshop trip led by Carol Cassidy Lao Textiles, delving deeper into the world of food with a hands-on cooking class, or shopping for handicrafts and textiles at lively street markets and tiny boutiques. Finish with an evening that pays homage to the country's rich history, such as supper and performance at a colonial palace or delicious French gastronomy at a fraction of the price you'd pay in Paris.