Vientiane deserves its reputation as one of the most mellow capital cities on earth, but it’s also more modern than many people expect based on older travel guides. There are now some chain restaurants and newer shopping centers, plus a large waterslide park opened in 2008.
The city is yet another great bargain for travelers to Southeast Asia, with nearly everything cheaper than Bangkok, and more along the lines of Hanoi. Being a smaller city, there aren’t loads of hotels in Vientiane, but fortunately most of them are quite cheap and friendly.
The main attractions in the city cost little or nothing, so it should be quite easy to keep your budget intact once you’ve found a place to sleep.
Eating on a tight budget in Vientiane is quite easy, as you’d have to go out of your way to find a restaurant that even approaches North American or European prices. Local dishes based on rice and noodles are cheapest, but sandwiches, pasta dishes, and even pizza can be found at good prices. The local lager called Beerlao is served everywhere at very low prices, while the Lao-lao rice whisky is even cheaper.