Earlier this year I read on Samakomlao this informative Laos’ Website that The Pizza Company, this popular Thai pizza franchise was going to open their first store in Vientiane and become the first fast food restaurant in the capital city.
I mentioned this to one of my blog readers and said that this could be the beginning of more restaurants to open up in Vientiane.
Sure enough, not only did The Pizza Company open but also Swensen’s a very popular ice cream franchise in Thailand. And then, one afternoon while strolling down by the Mekong River, there it was–Vientiane’s first American fast food restaurant sans that jolly goateed man in white–KFC.
And wait, there’s more. Not long ago I blogged how there were no movie theaters in Vientiane. Not anymore. Next to Talat Sao–this popular market in Vientiane a new building is going up that will have a modern shopping mall and movie theater.
Is this good or bad? There’s a part of me that loves the quiet, quaint charm that Vientiane exudes–a sleepy capital of guesthouses, street vendors selling baguette sandwiches and charming coffeehouses–unlike the hustle and bustle of cities of other Southeast Asia capital cities like Bangkok. On the other hand, it is good for Vientiane in terms of tourism dollars and jobs–at least I hope this works out for Vientiane and Laos.
However, it comes with a price. Vientiane has already gotten noisy and crowded and it is already translating into some minor price gouging: tuk-tuk drivers are charging exorbitant rates for traveling around the city.