Vientiane is sited right on the Mekong River, and the riverfront area of town is a nice place to spend an evening, along with everyone else in town. This is the one place, and the one time of day, where we saw a lot of people in Vientiane. The bank, running along Fa Ngum Road, is alternately thick with mature trees and open to the wide expanse of the river.
The Mekong rises and falls considerably from the rainy season to the dry. During the dry season, from November to March, the water falls enough to expose a large portion of the river bed near the bank, and a large sand bank emerges in front of the city. This sand bar become's landlocked Laos' "beach" and seems to be very popular with the Lao on weekends.
A promenade winds its way along the river, sometimes close to the road, sometimes snaking away from it. In places, there are restaurants, ranging from simple stalls to more permanent structures. The best place for river-side dining is the area roughly in front of the Lane Xang Hotel.