I stayed a week in the capital of Laos, Vientiane, to explore its nightlife. In this review, I will give you some tips about the best nightclubs, the best bars, where to stay near the nightlife and how to meet Laotian girls.

If you expect Vientiane to be a boring town, you are only partially right. After night falls, it isn't long before all shops and restaurants close, and by 10PM most streets are desperately deserted. At this time, even finding street food can be challenging.

If you go to the right places though, you'll discover some much more happening areas. As I realized, you can party every night in Vientiane until at least 3AM, well past the official midnight curfew.

Nightlife Areas in Vientiane
Click on the map to enlarge
Most of the bars, restaurants and nightclubs recommended in this article are within a small area north of the Chao Anouvong Park (green rectangle on the map) and along the riverside. Almost every visitors will stay there and you should probably too. These are recommended hotels near the nightlife:

→ 5-star: Crowne Plaza (200$ per night)
→ 4-star: Salana Boutique Hotel or Dhavara (120$ per night)
→ 3-star: Sunbeam Hotel (50$ per night)
→ 2-star: Moonlight Champa (30$ per night)

West of Vientiane, along Setthathilath Road, you will find some more upscale venues with much less tourists. This is where rich Laotians party as well as some expats (pink rectangle on the map).

Elsewhere in the city, the nightlife spots are sparsely located. Vientiane is not a city where you can just walk around and hope to find a great random bar. In general, as you get away from the city center, it gets naughtier. This is particularly true on T4 Road (Kamphengmeuang Road - red rectangle on my map). It can be considered a low-end red-light district as I counted at least 30 cheap girlie bars and karaokes, with working girls and sometimes hidden short-time rooms.

👉  Renting a motorbike: I was using a motorbike to get around in Vientiane. It costs about 50,000-60,000 per day and it will save you the trouble of negotiating with tuk-tuk drivers every time you want to go somewhere (and to explain where you want to go). The police does not seem to hunt tourists and the absence of traffic jams makes driving relatively easy. Still, it remains dangerous and you should make sure you are properly insured. You can read my Travel Insurance Guide for more information (it's about Indonesia but it applies to Laos as well).

Top 10 Bars in Vientiane
I-Beam Bar
You will find plenty of small restaurants, cafés and beer gardens selling alcohol in Vientiane. They will almost always be recognizable by their yellow and green neon sign (paid by Beerlao, the main brewer in Laos). Unfortunately, most of those places are not very interesting unless all you care about is getting drunk for as cheap as possible.

If you are looking for slightly more happening venues, you can try any of these:

Located by the riverside on the 4th floor of a building, it is one of the most popular bars in Vientiane. It gets consistently crowded every night from sunset until closing time with mostly tourists and backpackers, a few expats, some Laotians, some prostitutes and some ladyboys (later in the evening). The central bar makes it easy to meet people. You can play pool and there is a nice view on the Mekong. 15,000 kip for one beer, 40,000 kip for a cocktail and 40-60,000 kip for a main course. Music is Top 40 and EDM.

Musso
Part of the S Park Design Hotel, this live music pub is a popular hangout for rich Laotians and mixed Chinese. It is also where you'll see some of the prettiest girls in the city. Retro design. More expensive than average. Open every day until midnight.

I-Beam
This bar shares the same building with the fine dining restaurant Silapa. I visited on a Friday night and you had mostly dressed-up expats living in Vientiane. You might also meet some pretty and educated Laotian girls. Live music on Friday (Jazz, acoustic). Salsa on Thursday. Ladies night on Wednesday. Pricier than elsewhere (50,000 kip for a cocktail).

Samlo bar
An old, European-style pub serving food and cheap beer (10,000 kip). In another city I would never recommend it, but for Vientiane it is among the best for meeting people. Pool tables and foosball. Pop and rock music. Close at 2AM.

Read my full review: Samlo Bar Vientiane

Go Dunk
A new beer garden similar to those you have everywhere in Thailand. Laid-back vibe, live music, friendly staff.

CCC or Lao Café
This small bar is almost hidden near the Wind West Pub. It is officially gay-friendly but you'll also see plenty of girls, including hookers. It is the closest thing to a Thai-style girlie beer bar in Vientiane. It stays open until late (at least 2AM).

O'Grady's Irish Pub
O'Grady's is about 10 minutes away from the tourist area. It is patronized by an expat crowd who comes to watch sports, drink Guinness and eat Irish pub fare. Various events: Live music, quiz nights, darts nights, sports nights (rugby, UFC, football, AFL). Friendly owner. It is a family-friendly, especially during the weekend (kids playground in the backyard). Open every day except Monday until 12PM.

This is more a café/beer garden. Popular with older travelers. Nice setting but a bit expensive. The only reason I put it here is because it is normally quite busy and because it serves good food.

Hard Rock Café
The Hard Rock Café Vientiane is far from the city center, expensive and not very crowded. Live bands may sing in Laotian or English.

There are many more small bars in restaurants in the tourist center, particularly in Setthathirath Road, Samsenthai Road and the riverside street (Fa Ngum Road). For instance, the Beer House (largest beer selection in Vientiane), Paris Cocktail 2, Charlie's, Chokdee Belgian Beer Bar, Jazzy Brick Jazz Bar or Highland Sports Bar. Typically, those places are owned by foreigners married to a Laotian. They will rarely have more than 15-20 guests at once.

For a more local experience, you can try Western-style bars with a 100% local crowd elsewhere in the city, for instance CorebeerGarage Cocktail Bar, Relax, Suite 21 or Classic (see my nightlife map at the end of the article). 

Top 10 Nightclubs In Vientiane
Marina Nightclub
Most nightclubs in Vientiane are located in the western part of Setthathilah Road. As elsewhere in Asia, the local crowd tends to purchase bottles and stand around a table with their group of friends.

Marina
Marina is my favorite nightclub in Vientiane. It is also the only one with international standards (to a certain extent). It is large and packed on most nights with middle-to-upper class Laotians, a few Asian tourists (Chinese, Thai, Koreans) and surprisingly almost no foreigners. Loads of pretty girls. EDM and Hip Hop commercial music. Free entrance. Beer 18,000 kip. Close at 3AM.

Read my full review: Marina Club Vientiane.

Gold Star
Another fun place to party, Gold Star is part of a the huge Dao Kham Hotel complex. It is a Thai-style nightclub with live music acts followed by DJs (EDM). Compared to Marina, the crowd is much younger (some clubbers are probably under 18) and not as rich. Many opportunities for guys who want to meet girls. Free entrance. Close at 3AM.

Read my full review: Gold Star Nightclub

Wind West
Open since 1992, this live music pub has a mixed crowd of Laotians and tourists. The bands are a hit-and-miss but it does not really matter as people will dance whatever is being played. Excellent venue to meet local girls. Close at 2AM.

Read my full review: Wind West Vientiane

@Home
This is the Vientiane club where you'll see the most foreigners. It isn't too big nor sophisticated, but they have less commercial music (trance/techno). There are some normal girls but also prostitutes and ladyboys. Free entrance. Beer for 25,000 kip. Close at 3AM.

Read my full review here: @Home Vientiane

Also spelled Mark 2, it is an upmarket beer garden and live music club popular with rich Laotians. In the beer garden, the bands will normally play soft and romantic songs while in the club they will play pop/rock. Giant screen with sports. It also serves food. Walking distance from Mercure Hotel.

Phoenix
A small club with live music and commercial EDM DJs. As of today I don't really see the point of going there.

Read my full review here: Phoenix.

Romeo and The Pavilion
An upmarket complex featuring a live music hall (The Pavilion), a nightclub (Romeo) and an unnamed KTV. It was almost empty when I visited. Not worth it as it is 15 minutes from the tourist center.

Read my full review: Romeo Nightclub and Pavilion Music Hall

Batman Pub
A decent nightclub which is unfortunately located in the middle of nowhere, at the end of a dirt road. EDM, live music, karaoke. Local crowd.

Read my full review: Batman Pub & KTV

Mittaphab Club and Karaoke
An odd club with a mix of old Laotian couples, some Chinese guys and 20-something karaoke hostesses. A live band plays mellow Lao songs. Group dancing. Free entrance. 25,000 kip for a beer. Close at midnight. It belongs to the Mekong Hotel.

Read my full review: Mittaphab - Mekong Hotel

Galaxy
An upscale Lao live music bar. Chic crowd and professional service. Only if you are into local music.

Read my full review: Galaxy.

There are a few more nightclubs in Vientiane: Heartbeat (Live Music and DJ), Catwalk (Live music), Impeng Hotel (Live music), What's Club (Didn't visit), Xscape Club and KTV (click to read my review) or Ton Khao Restaurant & Club (far and very local but packed).

Meeting Lao Girls
Meeting with Lao girls is not so difficult if you go to the right places. They will generally be open to talk with foreigners and interested to develop long term relationships.

The best places for that in my opinion are Wind West, Marina, Gold Star, Mark Two, Musso, I-Beam and Phoenix.

You can also use online dating sites and apps, but the pool of available girls is limited. As of February 2017, Tinder had around 100 profiles (including 20 foreign girls), Badoo around 200 (but many idle profiles). Asia Dating did not even have one girl (even though it normally has the largest number of Asian girls).

It will be much more difficult if you want to bring a Lao girl to your room. As you may have read, sex between unmarried foreigners and Lao girls is officially forbidden. Even though the law is widely ignored, it gives you an idea of what the local mindset is like.

The worst part is that few hotels are girl-friendly, meaning they will refuse any late-night guest who wasn't part of the original booking.

You can avoid this problem by booking a room in girl-friendly hotel. They often have poor ratings but at least they won't bother you with your private life. Some of them in Vientiane are:
Lao Plaza Hotel (5-star, centrally located, but expensive = 150$ per night)
City Inn (4-star, a bit run-down but still rated 7.8/10, = 70$ per night)
Mekong BreezeHeuang Chaleun, La Ong Dao 1 and La Ong Dao 2: Poorly rated but cheap girl-friendly hotels in Vientiane (between 20$ and 40$ per night).

There are also at least 3 hotels with nightclubs/KTV that have the reputation of providing prostitutes. They are Tihao Hotel (Dihai KTV), Inpeng Hotel (Inpeng Club) and Mekong Hotel (Mittaphab KTV).

Vientiane Nightlife Map
I've added every bars and clubs mentioned in this review on the following map:

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