Vientiane’s location along an east–west stretch of the Mekong makes for spectacular sunsets, with the fiery orb lighting up the water before slowly descending into Thailand. Taking advantage of this backdrop, makeshift stalls selling bottles of Beer Lao and fruit shakes set up along the pavement on Fa Ngum Road opposite Wat Chanthabouli from afternoon till early evening. If you’re looking for something even closer to the water and away from the bustle of the city centre, continue west along Fa Ngum Road, where for the next 2km you’ll find a long row of over twenty beer gardens with wooden terraces overhanging the riverbank. These laidback, open-air venues offering cheap pitchers of golden “Fresh Beer” (bia sót) under a thatch roof define the quintessential Vientiane pub experience. The largest and fanciest of these are all in the vicinity of the Riverview Hotel.

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