Things to do in Vientiane
Vientiane runs along the north east bank of a curve in the Mekong river. By capital city standards it is very easy to wander around as many of the sites are in easy walking distance, alternatively tuktuks are in good supply. It's a peaceful city, and it is highly recommended that visitors just kick back and enjoy the quiet relaxation - a beer Laos while watching the sunset over the river Mekong is hard to better. That said there is plenty to see for those with more energy!
Wat Si Saket is the oldest temple in Vientiane. Built in 1818, it had a more traditional Thai style, which meant it escaped razing during the Siamese invasion in 1828. Buddhas made from wood, silver, bronze and stone can be found in niches all around the temple.
Pha That Luang is the national symbol of Laos, and is an impressive 3 layer golden stupa. Its been destroyed and renovated several times since it was built originally in the 16th century. If you are in Vientiane in November, check the dates for the full moon, as Bun That Luang is a religious festival worth experiencing.
Haw Pha Kaew used to house the Emerald Buddha that now resides in Bangkok. Admittedly the Emerald Buddha began life in Chiang Mai, but spent many years in this temple before being stolen back by Siam. The rebuilt temple is still worth visiting.
The Black Stupa or That Dam, pictured, is allegedly the home of a seven headed dragon which protects Vientiane. In the middle of town, it shouldn't be missed.
Patuxai, or the victory gate, would compete with the arc de triomphe in Paris. It has 4 gates, rather than the French 2, and also is a bit higher, making the view from the 7th floor across Vientiane well worth the climb.
Not far from Vientiane is Xieng Khuan, or Buddha Park. It was built in 1958 by Luang Pa Bunleua Sulilat, and houses an eclectic collection of Buddha statues. The park is close to the friendship bridge to Thailand, so it is definitely worth stopping at if you are using this entry point.