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Travel & Resources: VIENTIANE

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VIENTIANE -- area code +856-21

General Information

    The capital city of Laos is a short ride from the border with Thailand at Nongkhai. It is very easy to visit Vientiane, even for a day. There is a shuttle bus from the Thai side of the friendship bridge which will take you across to Laos. The Visa-on-arrival office however is not always open, so be sure to check before you cross or you may not be able to enter Laos.

    The Mekong river divides a community of people who are basically Esarn culturally. Everyone in Vientiane can speak and understand Thai. They all listen to Thai pop music, watch Thai TV, and it is relatively easy for the Lao to cross over to Thailand. On the Thai side of the river, people listen to Lao country songs and speak Lao. The most noticeable distinctions from Thai-Esarn are the bright red dirt roads which slice through an abundance of trees and wildflowers which have long since vanished from Thai farms and gardens. You may also notice that Lao temples are more animistic, colorful, and free-form compared with the institutionalized decor and behaviors in Thai temples. In general, Laos appears lush, natural and carefree.

    Vientiane has a frontier town feel to it, with its drowsy lanes, ever-spreading gardens, and French-colonial villas slowly fading into sepia-tinted retirement.

    There are lots of clubs, karaoke bars, discos, and restaurants in town that appeal to local gays and lesbians. Nightlife swings until early morning.

    The population of the capital city is about 800,000 (that's over 30,000 Utopians).


Travel Services

  • Ken's Car Service UTOPIAN VERIFIED DEC 2015 UTOPIAN VERIFIED JUN 2015
      020-5655-6341, email

      Ken offers an efficient and moderately priced aircon taxi service. He can greet at the airport, drive to all Vientiane tourist sites, and drive to other Lao cities like Luang Prabang.
      Add your review, comment, or correction

  • Max Guide Service UTOPIAN VERIFIED SEP 2016 UTOPIAN VERIFIED JUN 2015
      020-7799-6439, email

      Max is a young Vientiane guy who speaks fluent English. He has professional guide qualifications and can recommend hotels, restaurants and clubs. He knows the gay scene well, not just in Vientiane but elsewhere in Laos.
      Add your review, comment, or correction

      Comments from Utopians:

      "My friend and I used Max Guide Service last month for a trip to Laos and had a great time. We meet Max in Vientiane and then traveled together to Vang Vieng and Luang Prabang. He helped us make sure we did not miss any options as we traveled through this beautiful country. I would highly recommend him as a travel guide." -- Charles, Sep 21, 2016


Popular Spots

Attractions

    • Don't miss the mysterious, fantastical folk-sculpture garden, a short drive south from the Friendship Bridge, which is the older sibling to Wat Kaeg on the Thai side of the Mekong.
      Add your review, comment, or correction

    • Several temples offer traditional Lao herbal saunas which are open to the public and good places to relax with the locals. Braver sorts might enjoy a relaxing work-over at Ajarn Amphone's Herbal Sauna on Anjou Street (1 block northwest of the Tai-pan hotel) which includes an hour-long Shaolin massage by a Kung Fu master, including welt-inducing vacuum cups.
      Add your review, comment, or correction


Bars and Clubs

    • Blue Cool
    • Dong Tan Palace Hotel nightclub

    • Lak Song
        Sene Souk Hotel nightclub, 100 Louangprabang Rd
        213-375

        Popular disco attracts a young crowd. Standing room only on Sat nights. Some prefer to go other nights when it is less crowded and conversations are possible. Closes at midnight.
        Add your review, comment, or correction


Discos


Massage for Men

    • Champa Spa UTOPIAN VERIFIED JUN 2015

        This is a well-managed business, now with three locations in Champa Spa 1 (corner of Fa Ngum Rd and Pangkham Rd (021-251-926), Champa Spa 2 (corner of Samsenthai Rd and Pangkham Rd, 021-215-203), and Champa Spa 3 (Manthaturat Rd, 021-212-116). Champa Spa 2 is the biggest of the three branches and the best place to start. Clean private rooms with ensuite bathrooms. Outcallscan be arranged, but their outcall surcharge is steep by Vientiane standards. All locations are open from 9am-10pm, and the male and female therapists work interchangeably at all three.
        Add your review, comment, or correction

    • Max Spa UTOPIAN VERIFIED JUN 2015
        020-7799-6439, email

        Male and female staff are trained and certified. The owner/manager, Max, has an array of massage and body treatment qualifications, including from Wat Po in Bangkok. He is friendly and outgoing, with a professional attitude. Gay travelers can speak frankly with him about their expectations. Outcall also available.
        Add your review, comment, or correction


Meeting Places


Restaurants and Cafes

    • Benoni Café UTOPIA VERIFIED JUN 2015
        Rue Setthathilath (next to Joma)
        021-213-334

        Wide-ranging menu: all breakfasts, hamburgers, Asia food (such as pad thai). Good aircon. At the rear is the must-visit Phimphone Market, offering a useful array of travel necessities and supermarket items.
        Add your review, comment, or correction

    • Bistrot 22 (French) UTOPIA VERIFIED JUN 2015
        Samsenthai Rd, Ban Khaonyot (behind the Catholic cathedral)
        021-214-129, 020-5552-7286

        Fine food at a reasonable price. A bit out of the way, but worth the effort.
        Add your review, comment, or correction

    • Delhi Durbar (Indian) UTOPIA VERIFIED JUN 2015
        Rue Bourichane (near the Thai Consulate)
        021-410-013, 020-2824-9501

        Taxi required, as it's in the suburbs. Unlike the other Indian venues in Vientiane, Delhi Durbar has the food presentation and ambiance of an Indian restaurant in a large Western metropolis.
        Add your review, comment, or correction

    • Joma Bakery Café UTOPIA VERIFIED JUN 2015
        Rue Setthathilath (near the Nam Phou fountain)
        021-215-265

        Once the king of Vientiane cafes, but now facing strong competition from Benoni (next door) and Le Banneton.
        Add your review, comment, or correction

    • Kua Lao (Lao) UTOPIA VERIFIED JUN 2015
        111 Samsenthai Rd
        021-215-777, 021-214-813

        High-end restaurant for tourists who want to try Lao cuisine but to a high standard of cleanliness. Traditional Lao musicians.
        Add your review, comment, or correction

    • L'Adresse de Tinay (French) UTOPIAN VERIFIED JUN 2015
        Road between Chao Anou Rd and Khoun Boulom Rd (behind the Inpeng Temple)
        020-5691-3434

        Run by French-Lao, Tinay Inthavong, and his wife, Delphine, with great attention to detail. Delicious and original food. Closed Sun.
        Add your review, comment, or correction

    • L'Opera (Italian) UTOPIA VERIFIED JUN 2015
        Nam Phou Square
        021-215-099, 021-217-265

        Quality food in a traditional Italian ambiance, with Pavarotti and Domingo singing in the background. Try their special Lao Pizza and their tagliolini salsiccia, cacio e pepe (ribbon pasta with sausage, pecorino and black pepper in cream). The very jolly Pino has been in charge for more than twenty years.
        Add your review, comment, or correction

    • La Gondola Italian Restaurant (Italian) UTOPIAN VERIFIED JUN 2015
        Behind the Lao Plaza Hotel

        A good quality Italian restaurant, owned and run by an Italian guy and his Lao partner. The manager is a very friendly gay guy. The food and the ambience are good - linen tablecloths and napkins. Reasonable wine list. Staff are very friendly though most are not gay.
        Add your review, comment, or correction

    • Le Banneton Café and Boulangerie UTOPIAN VERIFIED JUN 2015
        Nokeokoumane Rd
        021-217-321

        A great favorite with local expats and a leading café in Vientiane. A wide range of baguette sandwiches and other takeaway snacks. The French owner, Bernard, also owns La Terrasse and Pricco on the other side of the road.
        Add your review, comment, or correction

    • La Signature (French and American) UTOPIA VERIFIED JUN 2015
        Ansara Hotel
        021-213-514

        It has a very welcoming outdoor terrace and an aircon room upstairs. Fine dining. The impressive set menu of three courses is inexpensive.
        Add your review, comment, or correction

    • Le Silapa (French) UTOPIAN VERIFIED JUN 2015
        88 Setthatirat Rd (in front of Vat Ongteu)
        021-254-528, 20-5561-4092

        You enter through I-Beam Bar (which they also own) and go upstairs to the very handsome white room. Fine dining. Superb cuisine at a reasonable price. Canadian owned.
        Add your review, comment, or correction

    • Moon the Night (Lao) UTOPIA VERIFIED JUN 2015
        Thanon Kamkon (on the banks of the Mekong)
        217-073

        About 10 minutes drive from the Mercure Hotel. The easiest way to get there is by tuk-tuk (it's well-known among the locals). This restaurant can get packed full of good looking Lao young people. They play some very gay songs, i.e. I Will Survive, Can't Take my Eyes Off of You, etc. Lots of fun.
        Add your review, comment, or correction

    • Pimenton (steakhouse) UTOPIA VERIFIED JUN 2015


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