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Luang Prabang Nightlife - 5 Best Things to Do After Dark (2017)

By Thibaud (Jakarta100bars) →
Luang Prabang, Laos' most touristic city, does not have the reputation of being a party town.

While there are plenty of things to do during the day, from visiting temples to swimming in waterfalls, nightlife activities are much harder to find.

There is a 11.30PM curfew on bars located in the city center, but if you go a little bit further away you can find a few clubs and KTVs open until 1AM. You also have the bowling center that closes at 2AM.

Within these time limits, there are actually some interesting venues for drinking and having fun. In this short review, I will give you a list of my top 5 favorite nightlife activities in Luang Prabang.

Best Things to Do at Night in Luang Prabang

1) Nightmarket
Luang Prabang at night (photo kob112)
I think it's the first time I recommend a night market in one of my articles. The one in Luang Prabang is one of the most touristy you'll visit in Southeast Asia (0% local people, 100% foreigners), but it is lively and probably the best place to meet other travelers.

The night market has two lanes: The main one, on Sisavangvong Road, focuses on clothes, souvenirs and craftwork. This is where people buy elephant pants and Lao-branded shirts. Nothing special.

The second lane is more interesting. It is a bit hidden, at the corner of the Indigo House Hotel and Sisavangvong Road, and it has around 25 street food stalls. You can buy very cheap beer there and sit elbow-to-elbow with other people.

It's quite dirty and messy so you won't stay too long, but still I'd recommend to try once.

2) Utopia
Utopia Café before sunset (photo: the chopsticks)
Utopia is a bohemian restaurant/café/bar by the riverside, a 5 minute walk from the center. It is a hippie/new age venue that attracts many of the younger long-term residents and backpackers of Luang Prabang. On normal nights, when they don't have any special events, it will be laid-back, with easy-going music in the background (most likely reggae). People will just sit on mattresses and chill. You can also play games or smoke shisha. Occasionally, they may organize a movie projection, a live music session, a volleyball competition, etc... You can check their Facebook page for more information (rarely updated though): Utopia Laos

15,000 kip for a small beer, 20,000 kip for a large one. Happy hours until 9PM. It closes at 11.30PM. Yoga sessions in the morning.

If you like Utopia, you may also be interested in the nearby Silapa restaurant. Its beer garden has a similar vibe, and they serve much better food (Italian, pizzas, and Laotian).

3) Bar Crawling in the City Center
Tangor (photo TanTan)
The city center of Luang Prabang can easily be discovered by foot. At night, there are two streets with a higher concentration of bars and restaurants:

On Sisavangvong Road (just after the night market), there are at least 20 of them. You can just walk and choose the one you prefer. Personally, I liked these 3:

Luang Prabang Motorcycle Club (LPMC): In front of Vat Sene temple, this bar was not the most busy but it has a great intimate atmosphere and excellent cocktails (around 45,000 kip). Independent pop/rock music. Friendly owner.

Tangor: A French-run restaurant/café/bar with a colonial décor. It is one of the most crowded in the street, and a perfect location for watching people walk by.

La Casa Lao: Spanish tapas bar next to Tangor. Buy 2 cocktails get 1 from 5PM to 7PM.

A short walk from there, there are a few more bars on Kingkitsarath Road. Expats call it the Phousi Hill's nightlife precinct. None of the venues are really packed, but you have music, sports channels and alcohol. The most recommended are:

Redbul Bar (not Red Bull): A proper pub with pool tables, burgers and sports. Popular with expats. 20,000 kip for a cocktail during happy hours (5PM to 7PM).

Aussie Sports Bar: On the ground floor of Aham Corner Guesthouse, it is owned by an Australian-Lao couple. Similar to Redbul.

The House Restaurant & Belgian Bar: A tiny bar owned by two Belgians. They have a large choice of imported beers such as Duvel (58,000 kip), Stella Artois (45,000 kip), Blanche de Namur (50,000 kip) and Karmeliet (62,000 kip).

Elsewhere in Luang Prabang, you can also try Amigos (Mexican Restaurant and Bar), the 525 (a modern cocktail and Tapas bar) and Rama Sports Bar (local and Asian crowd, live music).

4) Live Music Pubs: Dao Fa and U-Pub
Dao Fa Nightclub in Luang Prabang
Most Laotians and Chinese party and drink less than 10 minutes from the city center (by tuk-tuk), in particular on the Road 13 (near Naluang Bus Station). Most of them are very local, but the following are more Western-oriented:

U-Pub: 200 meters from Dao Fa in an unnamed street. It is modern and they have a live band every night singing Lao hits. A few pretty girls. 25,000 kip for one beer (buy 2 get 1 free). It closes at 1AM. Exact location here.

Dao Fa: Inside the Dao Fa hotel, it is not as new as U-Pub but more crowded. Live band and DJ (commercial EDM). It is only open from 9PM until 12PM. The Sun Karaoke KTV is attached.

5) Karaoke - KTV
I have to admit that I didn't partake in any karaoke session, but I saw many places that seemed popular with Asian tourists (probably Chinese) and locals.

The road were I saw the most venues does not have a name. You can go to this location and you'll see them.

There are more of them on Road 13, before and after Dao Fa. A crowded one was Full Moon Karaoke. There is also Muang Sua Nightclub and KTV on Phu Vao Road (here).

They normally close at 11PM or 11.30PM.

Vang Vieng Nightlife - Where to Party in 2017?

By Thibaud (Jakarta100bars) →
Vang Vieng is a small town in Laos, half-way between Vientiane and Luang Prabang. It is a great spot to relax for a few days and try outdoor activities like trekking, rock climbing, and of course tubing in the Nam Song river.

For years, Vang Vieng had the reputation of having some of the wildest parties in Asia. It was an essential stop on the 2000's backpacker party trail just like Koh Phangan, Kuta, Goa or Koh Rong. 

(Un) fortunately, those days of unrestricted fun are almost over. In 2011, at least 27 travelers died, often from the combination of drinking + tubing. Facing international scrutiny and complaints from residents, the Lao government decided to cracked down on the craziest aspects of the nightlife. It limited the number of bars on the riverside, imposed curfews and made a few drug-related arrests.

Vang Vieng nightlife in 2017 is certainly not the debauchery it used to be, but it has not completely died yet. Along the river, the two bars allegedly owned by the local police chief are - what a surprise - still standing. Recreational drugs are still easily available (mushrooms, laughing gas, marijuana, opium) and every night you still have at least two hundred backpackers filling up the bars in the city center.

Most of them are westerners in their early 20s on a gap year. I was also surprised to see many Asians, especially young Koreans. They all indulge in heavy binge drinking, similar to what you could experience during summer festivals or student parties.

I stayed two nights in Vang Vieng and that was more than enough to check all the nightlife spots. Below is a short summary of my findings:

Nightlife Areas in Vang Vieng - Hotels Near the Nightlife
Almost all bars in Vang Vieng are located in the city center within just a few streets. Sakura bar is the most crowded, and the other ones are within 100-200 meters.

If you come to Vang Vieng specifically for partying and meeting people, you may consider to stay in a party hostels such as:

Chillao Hostel: It has a loud bar downstairs with a pool table and free whisky from 7pm to 10pm. Double room for 20$. Dormitory 6$.

Real Backpacker Hostel 1 and Real Backpacker Hostel 2: Both are clean, next to the bars and they have organize a fun pub crawl every night. Several guests complained on Agoda of sexual activity in the dorms. Double room for 20$. Bunk bed 7$.

Vang Vieng CentralPark: This is where I was staying. Not a party hotel but it's new and very central. 22$ for a double room. Decent Wi-Fi.

Best Bars and Clubs in Vang Vieng

Sakura (reopened in September 2016)
Beer shotguns in Sakura
Sakura is where the party starts in Vang Vieng. Many of the bartenders and staff are foreigners so it really feels like a college house party. They give free drinks every night from 8PM to 9PM, followed by a happy hour until 10PM. A beer is 10,000 kip, a glass of spirits 30,000 kip. The idea is to get as drunk as possible in 2 hours for less than 20$. If you buy enough drinks, you get one of their famous t-shirt "drink triple, see double, act single".

Once Sakura gets really packed around 11PM, it is more a nightclub than a bar. People go crazy on the podium, couples start to make out, and sweaty guys will tell you they're your best friends.

At midnight, the bar closes! It takes about 15 minutes for people to get out and 30 more for them to leave the street. Many will just move to the next available bar, Viva.

More information (events, photos, etc): Sakura Bar Vang Vieng

Viva Vang Vieng
Even though Viva has free beer from 10PM to 11PM and a happy hour until 11.30PM (half price on all drinks), it does not get crowded until Sakura closes at midnight. It is a short walk away yet more than half the people do not make it. The banana pancakes seller are partly responsible for this.

Viva is a messy, borderline dirty bar with a small outdoor section and an indoor club. Nothing fancy, it's just 4 walls, loud music and a podium. This is not a place anyone would normally enjoy but it is fine if you've had enough beers.

As people get tired of Viva Club (horrible sound and music), some will start heading to Room 101.

Room 101
At the end of a corridor between Milan Happy Pizza and the Indian restaurant Nazim, you will find the hidden club Room 101. It is very tiny (basically just a small room twice the size of your bathroom) but since it is the only club opened after 2AM, you don't really have another option. They charge a bit more than average for drinks. The DJs will mix underground and commercial songs.

The owner is one of the organizers of the Jungle Party. You can check their Facebook page here: Room 101 Vang Vieng.

The 3 bars above are the only ones that are really happening in 2017. There are also a some more laid-back options to start your evening:

A short walk from the city center, this bar has the favors of the hipster/hippie crowd. Made from recycled materials, you can visit it at sunset time and enjoy a fantastic view. During happy hours from 6PM until 9PM, a lao whisky coke costs only 10,000 kip. I didn't try the food but on TripAdvisor it has many positive comments. Live music on most night.

The top photo of this article is from Earth Bar.

Popular bar and restaurant, especially at dinner time. Good and cheap pub fare. Friendly service and owner. Live music. You can watch sports and play pool.

Vang Vieng Jungle Project
This weekly event happens every Friday in an outdoor bar about 10 minutes away from the city center (free tuk-tuk from Milan Pizza). Tickets cost 30,000 kip with advance purchase (see their Facebook page) or 40,000 kip on the spot. You have a bunch of special shows apart from the DJs (painting, juggling, fire, etc). The music will be non commercial (techno, drum & bass, deep house, break beat, ..).

Drugs in Vang Vieng
Vang Vieng is one of the last places in Southeast Asia where drugs are still sold openly. You will see several coffee shops and bars with "Magic Shakes" (mushrooms + opium = 100,000 kip), "Happy Pizzas" (pizza + weed) or "Laughing Balloons" (nitrous oxide = 10,000 kip) on the menu. It is often cheaper than getting drunk, but I can't recommend you to try anything.

If you are curious and willing to go against my sound advice, the following bars will have everything you need:

Full Moon Bar
Psychedelic bar with reggae music and a totally relaxed vibe. It is located by the river and not really crowded. Pool table. Friendly owner. Another bar called Jaydees is about 50 meters further down the road and it offers a similar setting (and similar products).

It seems to be owned by the same people who run Room 101 and Jungle Project. They sell whatever your Highness needs and they also make normal pizzas/burgers. Same as Tifalcony Pizza.

Rasta Bar
My least favorite. It is centrally located just next to Viva but the music is quite aggressive (like Goa Trance). If you are really stoned you may enjoy though.

Meeting Girls in Vang Vieng
Vang Vieng is one of the easiest places in Asia to meet with foreign girls. They are everywhere in the city, especially European students in their early 20s. You also have many Chinese and Korean girls but they are often traveling with their boyfriends. Lao girls are a rarity (and the ones you'll meet in clubs might be ladyboys).

From what I observed, the best strategy is to chat with as many girls as possible during day time. There are really tons of opportunities, at your guest house, in a minivan, while tubing, etc. You can be sure that most of them will be partying in Sakura on the same night. When you'll see them on the dance floor, you will already have half the job done for you (alcohol will do the second part).

If you are alone, you can also try the pub crawl organized by Real Backpacker Hostel 2.

Forget online dating in Vang Vieng, it is terrible whatever the app or website you use.

Vientiane Nightlife: Top 20 Nightclubs and Bars (2017)

By Thibaud (Jakarta100bars) →
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:

Wind West Pub (Vientiane - Laos)

By Thibaud (Jakarta100bars) →
Wind West is a popular live music pub located in Rue Setthathirath in downtown Vientiane. It was packed when I visited (Saturday night) with a chic local crowd, and about 10% of foreigners (expats or tourists).

The oldest bar in Vientiane (since 1992), it is housed in an independent building that you can easily spot from the street. There is no entrance fee and a dress code normally applies (no shorts and no sandals, though most foreigners didn't respect the rule).

It is rather dark inside as only the stage is properly lit. As you would have guessed, there is a Western (Cowboys and Indians) theme that some would find a tad kitsch.

What struck me the most upon entering in Wind West was the high number of pretty, well-dressed girls including the waitresses, the bartenders and of course the customers. The latter were obviously open to meet with foreigners and very easy to talk to. I was suspicious they were prostitutes at first, but as far I know, most are just regular girls who want to drink, listen to the music and dance.

I found the live band performing that evening particularly talented. The female singer had an awesome voice and she was mostly singing in English (Top 40). The guy was singing some more boring, folk songs in Laotian as you can see on this video I shot:
Drinks are more expensive that average for Vientiane (but still reasonable). A Leo beer costs 25,000 kip and a cocktail 35,000 kip.

No smoking. They also serve some food (steaks).

Overall: Wind West was one of my favorite nightlife spots in Vientiane. It is walking distance from the main tourist district and you can visit it even if you are alone (just sit at the bar, you'll meet people easily). 

Opening Hours:
Every day until 2AM.

Wind West
Western Pub and Steakhouse
Rue Setthathirath
Phone number: 020 28 103 779