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Last updated : Nov 2009
 
Vientiane Nightlife
Vientiane Nightlife - TravelPuppy.com
Vientiane is no longer the illicit pleasure palace it was when Paul Theroux described it, in his 1975 book The Great Railway Bazaar, as a place in which ‘The brothels are cleaner than the hotels, marijuana is cheaper than pipe tobacco and opium easier to find than a cold glass of beer’. Nowadays, brothels are strictly prohibited, Talat Sao’s marijuana stands have been removed from prominent display and cold glass of beer has definitely replaced opium as the nightly drug of choice. Most of the bars, restaurants and discos close by 11.30 pm or midnight at the latest.

Dance

Vientiane has at least six ‘discos’, though the tern is rather a misnomer because often the music is live. Although a younger Lao crowd tends to predominate, there is usually a mix of generations and the bands or disc jockeys play everything from electrified Lao folk to quasi-Western pop. By law, all entertainment places are supposed to close by 11.30 pm and most clubs obey.

Vienglatry May, on Thanon Lan Xang is open until midnight. Still the most popular place in town, the large Vienglatry May lies a bit north of Talat Sao. Basically a dance floor surrounded on there sides by padded sofas and tables, the club features live Lao bands nightly and also serves food, beer and liquor; by 10.30 pm the cavernous room is usually packed.

A couple of other Lao nightclubs, past the Novotel between Km 2 and Km 5, with live bands, whirling lights and romantically dark sitting areas, are Blue Star and Marina, on Thanon Luang Prabang. The Blue Star has the best Lao house band in town, and has become the most popular dance spot for upper crust Lao.

Hotel Clubs

The following all have nightly Lao-style discos that are considerably smaller than the Vienglatry May. At some of these places a charge will be tacked onto your bill if you are male and one of the female staff comes and sits at your table.

Anou Hotel, on Cnr Thanon Heng Boun & Thanon Chao Anou. On the ground floor of the hotel, Anou Cabaret has maintained its popularity over many years.

Victory Discotheque, on Thanon Chao Anou is on the ground floor of The Saysana Hotel. It is a little more downscale than the Anou Cabaret.

Lao Plaza Hotel, on Thanon Samsenthai has Le Club Disco, which is the most modern in Laos and has gained loyal local following, especially among government workers.

Novotel, on Thanon Samsenthai is popular among the Asian business visitors, and one of the only dance spots likely to get away with staying open beyond 11.30 pm.

Other nightclubs cab be found at the New Apollo Hotel, on Thanon Luang Prabang and Royal Dokmaideng Hotel on Thanon Lan Xang.

Bars

For a city its size Vientiane has fewer bars than one might expect, less than half a dozen outside of the hotels.

Samlo Pub, on Thanon Setthathilat, opposite Wat In Paeng is open 4.00 pm-11.30 pm daily. This well stocked bar has draught Beerlao on tap.

Restaurant-Bar Namphu, on Foutain Circle, is a tiny, well-serviced watering hole. It is the closest Vientiane comes to approximating a European style bar.

If you are looking for something with more of a local flavour, and less expensive than the expat bars, your best bet is one the many bia sot bars (selling draught beer) around town. These are usually nondescript rooms filled with wooden tables at the bottom of a shophouse-look for plastic jugs of beer on the tables.

Cinema & Video

Lao cinema houses died out in the video shop tidal wave of the last decade or so. However, there are a few non-traditional venues where films are screened.

Central de Langue Francaise (CLF)

On Thanon Lan Xang. Film titles for the following week are usually listed in the weekly Vientiane Times or call and check with the information center. It also has a video rental library.
Costs - US$ 1.10
Screenings – Tuesdays at 7.30 pm, Wednesdays at 8.00 pm and Saturdays at 3.00 pm.

Australian Embassy Recreation Club

On Thanon Tha Deua. Shows videos on a wide-screen TV. Non-members are welcome.
Costs for nonmember: US$ 2
Costs for members: US$ 1
Screenings: Sunday at 6.00 pm.

German Embassy

On Thanon Sok Pa Luang. Needs no admission. German-language films are the focus here.

There are various private video shops around town that hire out Thai and English language videotapes or video CDs for US$ 0.30 to US$ 0.80 per night.

Settha Video

On Thanon Setthathilat, opposite Wat Ong Teu, has good selection of English language videos.