As capital cities go, Vientiane has to be about the most friendly, relaxed and slow paced one that I’ve ever visited. It is small in city terms and I loved it. I only visited for a few days on my way elsewhere, and to be honest three days is probably more than enough to visit the city’s few sights and to soak up the atmosphere and sample the fine food.
The main sight, towards the north-east of the city is Vat That Luang, a shimmering golden temple. Although the centre of the main building is blocked off, there’s still plenty to see around the temple grounds, and plenty of photo opportunities.
Next on the list, in “downtown” is Patuxay. This is the Laotian version of Paris’s Arc de Triomphe. Equally as impressive and with some uniquely South East Asian finishing touches. Like it’s French cousin, it is situated in a huge traffic island. You can climb to the top to get some impressive panoramas.
There are many smaller temples dotted around the city, the best of which is the beautifully maintained Haw Pha Kaew. If you catch this temple on a clear, sunny day (which is often in Vientiane!) you’ll come away with some great photos. This temple is a former home of Thailand’s Emerald Buddha.
Also well worth a visit, and just across the road is Wat Si Saket, the home of a thousand (or so!) Buddhas. In the cloister walls, there are hundreds of tiny recesses each of which house tiny Buddha statues. There is also a row of around 300 larger seated Buddha’s.
Khua Din market is the big draw for shoppers, catering to local culinary tastes as well as selling clothing and all the usual tourist tat.
I loved Vientiane, and if you go there not expecting a lot, you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
Some photos will follow shortly, in the meantime you can check photos on my website, www.matthewt.co.uk
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