I have a good friend heading to Laos. They’ve asked me for advice on what to do. I thought what I tell them might be worth sharing with the internet.

My expertise is in Vientiane, having lived there for one year.

Things to do in Vientiane off the top of my head:
– Going for a bike ride along the river. Rent a bicycle, the best you can afford, and take it for a ride. Find some dirt roads. Keep a reference of where the river is. Bring a helmet, sunscreen and some water. Bring the card of your guesthouse. You know you’re out of town when the kids start yelling “Hello, Sabaidee!” and waving.
– Lao Traditional Massage. It’s cheap compared to Western countries, and really good.
– National Museum. Interesting to check it out on a hot day.
– Shooting range, for something different, and if you have a spare $5.
– Fruit shakes, from the fruit shake stands.

TOP 10 Place to eat in Vientiane:
– Kulao: The fanciest and best Lao food in town. I highly recommend going here. The set menu is a stupidly huge amount of food so you’re better off ordering on your own. They do a live show here every night, but tour groups usually take the tables with the best views of the stage. Not that expensive so it’s good value for money.
– Tyna’s Crepes: Really nice dessert crepes. The owner seems pretty friendly. When I was last there some Frenchys were playing poker downstairs.
– Yulala: Contemporary Japanese food. The couple that run it are really nice at attentive. The desserts are divine.
– Sticky Fingers: Australian restaurant serving western food. Always busy, diverse menu, happy hour has cheap drinks on Wednesdays and Fridays.
– La Bennaton: Upmarket version of Croissant D’or but next door. Nice sandwiches but considerably dearer.
– Moon the night: Massive menu of Lao food that is really popular among locals. Might need your accommodation to help you get there. If you want to go to a restaurant people in town would head to, check it out.
– La Terrasse: French-European food, great desserts, good family restaurant, very popular with expats, excellent bread. I really rate this place.
– Chateaux De Cave: French food, nice setting, outdoor BBQ, friendly staff, extensive specials board, quite romantic, relatively expensive.
– Le Central: Excellent French food. Nice setting. Relatively expensive but have a lunch set menu for about $6.
– La Silapa. Worthy of hosting an Australian head of state.

Going to the top of Patu Xai is probably not as good as seeing it from the ground. The french restaurant, Na Dao, is near here and very good.

You can go check out That Luang, but it’s probably more interesting for locals than foreigners.

Wat Sisaket is probably the most worthwhile thing to check out, as far as site seeing is concerned.

It’s a great place to relax, eat good food, and generally chill out. Go to Talat Sao, the morning market, and buy some nice textiles. You could probably bargain 35% off, as a rough guess.

Check out Green Discovery Travel for adventure stuff to do out of town.

Links:
Travelfish Vientiane
Wikitravel Vientiane