The capital of Laos is a very laid-back city, busy and hectic in
comparison to the rest of the country very quite however if compared
with any other city in Asia. Vientiane, as all of Lao's major cities,
is situated on the Mekong river which forms the lifeline of the
country. The tree lined boulevards and the old temples give the
town it's special touch of ancient past and French colonialism.
Vientiane is the center of culture, commerce and
administration in Laos. Vientiane's major attractions are its serene
Buddhist monasteries and monuments, which characterize the scenery
of the capital.
MAIN SITES IN VIENTIANE
That Luang Stupa
That Luang is the most important Stupa in Laos and is the National
Emblem of Laos. It was constructed in 1566 by King Say Setthathirath
in typical Lao style and it's golden center reflects over the roofs
of the city and is one of the landmarks of Vientiane.
Vat Sisaket is the only temple in Vientiane that has survived the
destruction of the city by the Siamese in 1828. It is the oldest
monastery standing intact in its original form, and certainly one
of the most interesting in the whole country. Inside the main hall,
and along the walls of the courtyard surrounding it, are hundreds
of little niches and shelves containing a total of 6840 Buddha images.
Vat Phra Keo was constructed in 1565 by King Xayasethathirath when
he moved the capital of Lan Xang to Vientiane to house the Emerald
Buddha which the Siamese Invaders moved to Thailand in the 18th
century. The temple was then badly damaged and nicely renovated
by the French in 1942.
Build in 1958 this monument is a copy of the French Arc de Triumph
and commemorates the Lao who died in the pre-revolutionary wars.
It is completely made out of cement and and decorated in Laos style
although the entire has never been completely finished.
Lao National History Museum
Formerly known as the Revolutionary Museum. It is located in a old
French Mansion build in 1925 and houses different exhibitions with
interesting artifacts. The main part of the museum is dedicated
to the lengthy struggle for power of the Pathet Lao. In addition
to that there are some interesting Khmer sandstone sculptures and
interesting information about the French colonial period, the struggle
for independence etc.
SITES AROUND VIENTIANE
Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge
This impressive Bridge was completed in 1994. Over 1,100 meter long
it was the first road connection between Thailand and Laos. It made
trade and travel between the two countries a lot easier what increased
the importance of Nong Khai, the Thai border town as well as Vientiane.
Besides domestic trade and transport it also became very fast an
attractive entry point for tourists.
Located 25km outside Vientiane on the shore of the Mekong River
is a garden with concrete statues of various religious figures from
the Ramayana Story as well as the history of Buddha. All the statues
are made of concrete and are of recent construction. It is a nice
drive through the countryside to get and from the park you have
a nice view over the Mekong and the Friendship Bridge, but the park
itself is not of any particular interest.
National Ethnic Cultural Park
Located 20km outside of Vientiane on the way to the Friendship Bridge
this park caters mainly to domestic visitors. It consist of a small
Zoo, a children playground, a public swimming pool as well as some
models of traditional Lao Houses.
This is an eco-tourism lodge located on the Nam Ngum River about
50km south of Vientiane. The very charming resort is made out of
wood and bamboo and offers basic comfort. It is a very nice getaway
from Vientiane and besides enjoying the peace of this beautiful
area possible activities are short treks, village visits and boat