For those who have been to Vientiane long ago and now, they likely will say that this Laos’ city is changing. For example, where there were once hundreds of bicycles, there are now motor bikes and cars. Whatever it is, Vientiane is marked by a fountain named Nam Phou Place, and almost all of Vientiane's important sights are located within walking distance from here.
Like other tourists, you may find it hard to believe you are in a capital city, i.e. the pace of life is so gentle. You will often meet with small groups of Buddhist monks in orange or rust-coloured robes, and sporting umbrellas against the sun seems to invite you to visit their temples and to practise their English on you!
What are the not to be missed places to see and places to visit in this charming city?
The Mekong River – watch water buffalo as they graze peacefully, you will notice that they barely looking up as you pass, at the same time the farmers are growing vegetables on the banks of Mekong.
Wat Si Saket - Vientiane’s oldest temple. Wat Si Saket was built in 1818 under King Anouvong. Many said it displays the Siamese rather than Lao style of Buddhist architecture. I believe the architecture as well as its surrounding terrace and ornate five-tiered roof, is to keep it safe during the Siamese invasion. Its cloister wall has more than 2,000 ceramic and silver representations of Buddha, and houses a museum as well.
The Great Stupa/Pha That Luang - is an important Buddhist temple built in the sixteenth century by King Setthathirat. I understand that the relics of Buddha are said to be contained here. In fact, the stupa was destroyed by the Thai invasion in the nineteenth century, but was later rebuilt to its original design. Some even said that The Black Stupa (That Dam) is inhabited by a seven-headed dragon which tried to protect them from the Siamese army invasion.
Patuxai (Victory Gate) - this was built in the 1960s to commemorate those who fought in the struggle for independence from France. From what I see, it is quite resembles the Arc de Triomphe, but the style is definitely Laotian, with its numerous kinnari figures, i.e. half woman, half bird.
Talat Sao – is a colourful morning market. Over here, you can find the best of Lao weaving, i.e. glorious silks, cottons and ethnic textiles, both old and new.
Do you think Vientiane is a sleepy city that is full of charm?