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Expat Exchange - 7 Tips for Living in Vientiane 2024
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7 Tips for Living in Vientiane

By Betsy Burlingame

William Russell
William Russell

Summary: Advice for people moving to Vientiane or thinking about moving there.

This is a must read if you're moving to Vientiane or thinking about moving there.

As an expat or digital nomad, living in a foreign country can be an exciting adventure filled with new experiences and opportunities. Vientiane, the capital city of Laos, is a popular destination for many, offering a unique blend of traditional Lao culture and modern conveniences. Here are seven key tips to help you navigate life in this vibrant city.

1. Learn the Local Language

While English is spoken in many parts of Vientiane, learning some basic Lao phrases can greatly enhance your experience. Not only will it make daily tasks like shopping and dining easier, but it will also help you connect with the local community. Plus, locals appreciate when foreigners make an effort to learn their language.

2. Explore the Local Cuisine

Vientiane is a food lover's paradise, offering a wide range of local and international cuisines. For a taste of traditional Lao food, try sticky rice, laap (a type of meat salad), and tam mak hoong (papaya salad). Some popular local restaurants include Kualao Restaurant, Makphet, and Lao Kitchen. Each offers a unique dining experience and a chance to sample authentic Lao dishes.

3. Understand the Cost of Living

Compared to many Western countries, the cost of living in Vientiane is relatively low. However, it's important to budget carefully, especially if you're earning a local salary. Rent, utilities, groceries, and transportation can add up quickly. It's also worth noting that imported goods can be quite expensive, so it's best to stick to local products whenever possible.

4. Get to Know the Neighborhoods

Vientiane is made up of several neighborhoods, each with its own unique charm. The city center, known as Chanthabouly, is bustling with shops, restaurants, and cultural sites. For a quieter, more residential feel, consider the Sisattanak or Xaysetha districts. If you're looking for a more expat-friendly area, the Sikhottabong district is home to many foreign residents and international schools.

5. Embrace the Local Culture

Laos has a rich cultural heritage, and Vientiane is no exception. From the stunning Buddhist temples like Pha That Luang and Wat Si Saket, to the vibrant night markets, there's always something to see and do. Participating in local festivals and events is a great way to immerse yourself in the culture and make new friends.

6. Stay Healthy

Healthcare in Vientiane has improved significantly in recent years, with several international-standard hospitals and clinics now available. However, it's important to have comprehensive health insurance to cover any medical expenses. Also, be mindful of the local climate and take precautions against common health issues such as heatstroke and mosquito-borne diseases.

7. Get Involved

One of the best ways to feel at home in a new city is to get involved in the community. There are numerous clubs, groups, and organizations in Vientiane that cater to a wide range of interests. Whether you're into sports, arts, or social causes, there's likely a group that's right for you. Volunteering is also a great way to give back to the community and make new friends. Just be sure to research and find a group that aligns with your interests.

Living in Vientiane as an expat or digital nomad can be a rewarding and enriching experience. By embracing the local culture, learning the language, and getting involved in the community, you can make the most of your time in this vibrant city.

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About the Author

Betsy Burlingame Betsy Burlingame is the Founder and President of Expat Exchange and is one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. She launched Expat Exchange in 1997 as her Master's thesis project at NYU. Prior to Expat Exchange, Betsy worked at AT&T in International and Mass Market Marketing. She graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University with a BA in International Business and German.

Some of Betsy's articles include 12 Best Places to Live in Portugal, 7 Best Places to Live in Panama and 12 Things to Know Before Moving to the Dominican Republic. Betsy loves to travel and spend time with her family. Connect with Betsy on LinkedIn.


William Russell
William Russell

William Russell
William Russell

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