The capital and largest city of Laos, Vientiane, is located on the banks of the Mekong River and near the border with Thailand. The city was the capital of the country during the French rule and it continues to be so nowadays. Vientiane is home of many significant cultural monuments, and Buddhism temples. The city owns the French for the beautiful architecture in its buildings and constructions. So when walking down Vientiane, you may get a Parisian feeling around everything, that is of course if you’ve been ever been to Paris. The architecture contrasts very well with the Buddhist temples, which were restored by the French as well.
The capital is known as the City of Sandalwood and/or the City of the Moon. The two words in English don’t have a lot in common, but in the country’s native language they are pronounced almost identically, causing the confusion among many.
Wanna take a peak in Thailand while in Vientiane? Know that the city is connect to the neighbor country by a bridge that crosses the Mekong River, and it’s known as the Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge, built in 1990. How diplomatic and cute is that!?
The country’s capital is full of many interesting and beautiful points of interests, and I will highlight the main ones here. Are you ready for it?
To start our adventure in this amazing city, I present you to the Buddha Park, located 30 minutes outside the city’s downtown. The park is filled with Buddhism and Hinduism statues, and each one of them tells a different story or tale. The bad part is that on the monuments there are not descriptions in English, so I’d recommend doing your own research before hand, so you can make sense of what you see.
Still on the Buddhism, you cannot miss out on going to the Luang Temple, a national symbol of the country, and the largest and most popular temple in the city. The legend says that one of the original structures once housed the breastbone of Buddha in the 3rd century. Make sure to stop by and see the huge amazing reclining gold Buddha.
Another must see temple in town is the Wat Sisaket, built by the last king of Laos and one of the few buildings to survive an attack on the city in the 19th century. It is a great spot to learn about the history of the place and see and talk to some monks. It is an impressive, beautiful, and peaceful place.
If you have some cooking skills, or is looking to acquire some, you can start by taking one of the cooking classes available in the city, called the Lao Experience. The Experience will consist of a few hours exploring a local market and learning about the ingredients used in the Lao cuisine, followed by a cooking class where you will learn the different techniques used for the traditional Lao meals. At the end of the lessons, you will eat your food and take some some recipes to try it by yourself. If you are not into cooking that’s ok, you can just eat! 😉
As I said, the city is full of amazing monuments, and depending of how much time you will have there, you will have to pick a few ones to go. I recommend the Patuxai Monument arch, it’s the symbol of the city, and on the arch you can read about its importance to the same. You can also climb if you want it for a view of the city below.
Last but not least, visit the city’s night market, held in the Mekong Riverside Park. In this market you will find clothes, local Laos artwork, silk scarves and much more. It is a great place to get souvenirs for all your friends and family, and of course, experience more of the local culture.
What do you say? Will you be going to Vientiane any time soon?