Once the center of a roundabout, (half of it is still in use) today Nam Phou Place is a pleasant public space—an ideal place to hang out after a day of exploring Vientiane.
And yes, the fountain works. It usually comes on in the afternoon; at least it was in operation the afternoon On and I were in the area.
The square is dominated by one of Vientiane’s tallest buildings, the semi-abandoned French Cultural Center (I thought it was a hotel) and most of Vientiane’s sights and cultural attractions are within comfortable walking distance from Nam Phou Place.
There are many restaurants around the square as well as a variety of antique shops. However, it is just a cool place to hang out—preferably in the late afternoon after you’ve finished your exploration of Vientiane or before you have dinner. Probably don’t want to be hanging out here around midday.
What I liked most about the fountain is that it’s a great place to rest for a while and also if it is working when you are there, it is quite pretty.