Vientiane’s Presidential Palace would do the president of any country proud: a grand building with a colonial-era Beaux-Arts feel that belies its relatively recent 1986 construction. While the president’s official working residence is elsewhere, the palace still remains closed to the public.
Vientiane’s Presidential Palace is closed to the public, opening its doors only for receptions and formal events—and even then an invitation is required. As such, the casual visitor’s only option for seeing the palace is by capturing photos from outside the gates. The Presidential Palace is an easy walk from other town center attractions; although some Vientiane city tours include a photo stop here, there are no dedicated Presidential Palace tours.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Laos’ Presidential Palace is not open to visitors; rather, it’s strictly a government building.
- Bring your camera or your phone—even the exterior of the building is worth a snap.
- The Vientiane Presidential Palace is probably not worth the effort with kids.
How to Get There
The Presidential Palace sits in the heart of Vientiane, just steps from Wat Sisaket and the Nam Phou Fountain; Patuxai (Victory Monument) is located less than a mile (1.3 kilometers) to the northeast. It’s easy to swing by for a photo stop when exploring Vientiane on foot or by bicycle; alternatively, a few city tours make a short stop here en route to Patuxai.
When to Get There
As with many architectural subjects, the Presidential Palace is best photographed during the morning or the golden hour—just after sunrise or just before sunset. The building is also illuminated it at night, making it a great topic for evening photography if you have the ISO capacity.
Deceptively Historic: Vientiane’s Presidential Palace Architecture
Like so much of Laos, Vientiane’s Presidential Palace displays the influence of the French, who occupied Laos from 1893 until 1954. But it was actually built decades after they left. Construction started in 1973 under the Royal Lao Government and continued during the 1980s under the Communist Lao People’s Revolutionary Party. The building was finished in 1986.