We spent a short time in Vientiane checking out the city. It's very quiet and peaceful, and while people often use those words to describe Laos, I wouldn't say it's necessarily a positive thing. At times, it's peaceful because the river is beautiful and the air is soft and the sun feels nice. At times, it's peaceful because it's a poor country and there's not a ton of commerce or entertainment or city life going on. So, it's complex, like anywhere. But for me, being somewhere not-China was enough. It was full of religious temples, monks, and old edifices. I really liked the hundreds of small alcoves in this temple, each containing two miniature Buddhas.
We also visited Laos's most famous stupa (a structure containing Buddhist relics or remains). It was very gold.
We walked around a bit more, checked out a local market, bought some jackfruit, and then: no time to waste! We hopped on a night bus headed north for Luang Prabang.