In Vientiane, it’s not just the temples that are photogenic, far from it. The capital of Laos is a small town and easy to walk around. So why not take the opportunity to wander the streets in search of urban gem?
The Mother of Waters, as its name indicates in Lao, crosses six countries, including the so-called “million elephants” country, and sometimes marks the border with Thailand, as in Vientiane. The city is located on the left bank of the river and is organized along the water.
On the banks below, the fishermen’s boats are moored, where the local residents are busy selling their fish at the market. A good idea to immortalize moments of daily life, provided you come early in the morning, with suitable shoes to go down the steep slopes of the river, in the middle of tall grass.
Framed by the Fa Ngun quay is the night market, with its food, (hashtag #StreetFood) souvenirs and craft stalls. Mobile juice carts circulate along the promenade, where motivated residents come to do aerobics throughout the day. On the steps of the wide staircase leading down to the water, young people sit, tap on their phones, wait, lounge and relax. Here, Sabai Sabai means: Hakuna Matata!
At night, the river banks are illuminated. In addition to the night market, the children’s entertainment area, with its trampolines and bouncy castles, pierces the darkness with flashy lights. The place is ideal for children who don’t want to sleep, and their parents who follow them with a Lao beer in hand.
So many moments of life to capture, at any time of the day or night, with a preference for sunrises and sunsets. In order to get a good view of the river banks, sit on one of the rooftop bars to get some height.
The colonial villas :
From the French colony, some typical houses with high ceilings remain, where the civil servants in Vientiane resided. Years after decolonization, and due to a lack of maintenance, these houses fell into decline. You can find them in a state of disrepair while walking through the streets of the capital, hashtag #RuinPorn!
However, not all villas are abandoned: government institutions and bodies have settled in them. But only the buildings bought by hotels are really restored.
In search of these vestiges of colonization, the walk will look like an architectural treasure hunt.
Anecdote: the Mahosot hospital built by the French at the dawn of the 20th century is one of these emblematic buildings. Dilapidated but still in use, a new hospital has just been built to replace it, but the old one should be restored to become accommodation for patients’ families.
And if you haven’t read “The Coroner’s Lunch” it’s unforgivable.
Passion for TukTuk:
A type of motorized tricycle that is quite common in South East Asia, this vehicle allows low-cost passenger transport. While it is common to negotiate your race, keep in mind that Covid has not been easy for everyone and that the price of petrol has increased. Be nice, for a few pennies in the end.
Do not hesitate to hire the one you have found, especially if he is kind, smiling, and speaks a little English. Take his number, so he can pick you up at the hotel and drive you around the city. If he’s really cool, he’ll probably let you photograph him while he naps in the vehicle’s hammock, waiting for your visit to one of the city’s temples to end.
And then there are those who you come across by chance, in front of a monument, or moving along a city street. So many opportunities to immortalize in an original way the transport which was yours during your stay in Vientiane.
The Monks’ slow Dance:
While we should always be respectful when photographing people, especially Buddhist monks, the fact is that saffron robes are extremely photogenic. Of course, these groups of religious people can be found around temples and monasteries, where it’s possible to take pictures of daily life, but it is the Patuxai that stands out the most on Instagram. On top of a terrace, on the iron staircase of the building (hashtag #vintage or #retro), or in front of the windows overlooking the city.
The Saffron dress theme also works well in the markets or on the banks of the Mekong.
We prefer photos of monks from behind: its preserve the anonymity of the person, are not too invasive and keep a respectful distance.
The Food Market:
If the walk makes you hungry, Lao food is as good as it is Instagrammable. The markets, day and night, and the carts on wheels allow two things to be highlighted: local products and culinary traditions.
A perfect theme for daytime…. As well as at night. There is the morning market on Lang Xang Avenue and then the evening market at the back of the same building. Also the night market on the banks of the Mekong.
Again, the color contrast offered by the culinary variety can only bring you a few “likes”, it’s just that the smell doesn’t escape from the picture.
Variation: Lao beer! An emblematic drink, it will not only accompany your tasting, but can also be incorporated into your photo in a more or less subtle way. By the way, did you buy the beerLao t-shirt? Hashtag #cliche #BeerLao: but we can’t get enough of it.
Getting off the beaten track and away from the inevitable That Luang, Patuxai, Phra Keo, it’s time to be original. From abandoned colonial villas on the banks of the Mekong River, with monks strolling along the markets, the tuktuk wait patiently for their customers. 5 photography themes that you can mix and match! A vehicle loaded with young Monks, parked in front of a colonial house overlooking the Mekong, and a food street cart in the frame: after all, why not?