The Charm of Vientiane, Laos
Vientiane maybe is not the best city to visit while travelling in South East Asia. Most of people will come here to complete their travel mark before leaving to Luang Prabang. However, there are still a lot of hidden charms yet to be explored while visiting this French, British, Chinese and Siamese invasion city. Unlike Luang Prabang which more greens and parks, this city is very rich with its history, temples, museums, monuments and beautiful park. The Lao foods also simply delicious and unique besides you can enjoy the sweetness of the Lao Beer.
Here are places that you must visit while visiting this Capital city of Laos.
Pha That Luang
Pha That Luang is a massive golden colour Buddhist Stupa which is located in the centre of Vientiane city. The stupa height is 45 metres and surrounded by high terrace with tiny wind hole around it. The establishment of this stupa was at early age of 3rd Centrury by Ashokan missionaries from India and it had gone with numbers of re-construction phases during foreign invasion era. Now, this stupa is the national monument of Laos and also the place for Pha That Luang Festival on every November yearly.
- Street name: Th That Luang (nearby National Assembly) or 15 minutes by tuk tuk from Central Vientiane.
- Admission fees: 2000kip
- Visiting hour: 8.00am – 4.00pm (Tuesday – Sunday)
Wat Si Saket
Wat Si Saket was built on year 1818 during King Anouvong or called as Chao Anou and this is the oldest temple in Vientiane. This wat was constructed in early Bangkok style with high and thick terrace cloistering the place, just like the Pha That Luang. There are mango.coconut and banana trees shaded this wat area which giving a cool impact to the temple.
While visiting this place, you may observe that on the wall terrace, you will see puzzles of small slots which contained more than 2000 silvers and ceramic Buddha images. Besides, there are anonymous numbers of seated and standing Buddha statues which come with different age, size and materials too; mostly from wood, stone and bronze. Most of the Buddha images were from 16th to 19th century of Vientiane and some are from 15th to 16th century of Luang Prabang’s.
- Street name: Exactly at the corner of Th Lan Xang and Th Setthathirat (opposite to the presidential palace). It just walking distance from the backpacker area.
- Admission fees: 2000kip
- Visiting hour: 8.00am – noon & 1.00pm – 4.00pm (closed on public holiday)
Patuxai or locally known as “Anusawali” is a massive monument in a park which was built to honour the Lao who died during revolutionary war. The monument was built in 1969 with cement which donated from USA for the construction of a new airport. There is entrance fees applied you want to climb the stair case up to the top of this monument. This monument is a very popular spot for local to gather up with family, relaxing and spending the evening time with the love one after long working day.
- Street name: Th Lan Xang (walk till the end of the street until u find a rome style monument. Note, u will pass by the Talat Sao (the market) on the way walking from the backpacker area.
- Admission fee: 2000kip
- Visiting hour: 8.00am – 5.00pm
Lao National History Museum
This museum formerly was built on 1925 as French governor’s residence and used to be called as Lao National Revolutionary Museum. The front section of this museum exhibited the cultural and geographical of Lao and the inner section of this museum as dedicated for; 1893 – 1945 French Colonial period, 1945 – 1954 The struggle of independence, 1954 – 1963 The resistance of American Colonialism, 1964 – 1969 The provisional government and finally 1975, the communist victory.
Most of the display here are in English and the museum’s entrance ticket can be re-used if you want to come back to this museum again in the same day.
- Street name: Th Samsenthai (Opposite to Lao National Culture Hall and behind the national stadium)
- Admission fee: 3000kip
- Visiting hour: 8.00am – noon & 1.00pm till 4.00pm
Xieng Khuan (Buddha Park)
This Buddha Park is located 25 kilometres from Vientiane. Landed on a very grassy land or the Mekong River, this park was built in 1958 by Luang Pu Bunleua Sulilat, who was trying to merge the Hindu and Buddhist ideologies and make it turn to be ambiguous. Xieng Khuan or “Spirit City” consisted of Shiva, Vishnu, Arjuna, Buddha statues, and many other gods imaginable.
- Street name: Th Tha Deua (There is a bus which will pass to this park (3000kip) from Talat Sao Bus Terminal which departing at every 3 minutes. Chartering a tuk tuk will cost you 50,000kip for return trip.
- Admission Fee: 5000kip, Camera 2000kip
- Visiting hour: 8.00am – sunset
What else to do in Vientiane?
Massage & Herbal Sauna
You may go to Wat Sok Pa Luang or “forest temple” to relax yourself while enjoying the traditional massage and herbal sauna. This wat is located in a semirural area of Th Sok Pa Luang, around 3 kilometres from the city centre. Tuk Tuk drivers are normally know about how to get here.
- Street Name: Th Sok Pa Luang
- Herbal Sauna: 10,000kip
- Massage: 30,000 kip
Ban Anou Night Market
This night market is located off to Fa Ngum and Th Chao Anou, the Vientiane’s Chinatown district. Here you find a lot of local Lao food such as “Ping Kai” barbeque chicken on the stick, “laap” spicy salad, curries, noodles and many other Lao-Chinese influenced dishes. Trust me! It’s very cheap and it’s all you can eat!
Each country in South East Asia will have their open market. Chatuchak in Bangkok, Ben Thanh Market in Ho Chi Minh City and Talat Sao is one those. This market is a very complex department. “You name it, they have it items” such as Jewelleries, Lao silk, electronic item, clothing and bedding are easily can be found here in bargain price. There is also a modern shopping mall called Talat Sao Shopping Mall with multi-storey car parking to reduce the bustle in current open market.
- Street Name: Th Lan Xang