Vientiane, the capital of Laos, is located on the Mekong River near the border with Thailand. A former French holding, it is a graceful city that is now the country’s economic center. Visitors to Vientiane won’t want to miss the Pha That Luang, a a Buddhist stupa that dates back to 1586. Buddhist temples and sites abound, but travelers also will want to walk through the Mekong Riverside Park.
Cambodia’s most popular beach destination, Sihanoukville is where the U.S. fought its last battle in the Vietnam War. Though none of Sihanoukville’s beaches would qualify as Southeast Asia’s finest it is a great place to relax after visiting all the Khmer ruins in the rest of the country. The beaches are popular with a variety of travelers from backpackers who stay in huts on the beach to those who prefer the luxury of five-star hotels. Snorkeling is popular on some of the offshore islands.