Asian cities, the big and popular ones are notorious for thick traffic, high pollution, and not so very hygienic living conditions, except Vientiane. Moreover, in spite of possessing plenty of sightseeing attractions, they are spread wide apart and covering all of them in a day or two would tire you. You may end up hating the hectic pace of your otherwise foreseen relaxed holidays.
For a pleasant change, Vientiane, the capital of the Asian country Laos is a beautiful city that makes you see all its famous attractions leisurely. The city is built with tree-lined avenues dotted with silent Buddhist shrines, one of them is the Pha That Luang, the 16th century Buddhist temple that is also happened to be the Laos national symbol.
Vientiane shows remnants of French architecture as it was once a part of French Indochina. Most of the attractions of Vientiane are found along the Mekong River that passes through this Southern Laos city.
Haw Phra Kaew,Vientiane
Once a Buddha temple that enshrined the world-famous Emerald Buddha of Thailand, ‘Haw Phra Kaew’ is now a museum. The sacred Emerald Buddha went again to Thailand. The building that is located at the junction of Setthathirath road and Mahasot road induces a sense of calmness. Seeing several people meditating, you too would join them silently. The carvings on stone and wooden sculptures display highly skilled artistry.
Wat Si Saket,Vientiane
This is another venerated Buddhist monastery in Laos. Once you are inside the temple you will be amazed to see hundreds of seated Buddha statues.
There are about 6000 plus tiny images of Buddhist art made of bronze, wood, and stone placed in a triangular alcove behind the statutes. If you are an admirer of fine arts, you will spend hours studying the exquisite architecture, appreciating them. You are not allowed to use your camera though you will feel an irresistible urge to capture them in your camera lens. The Wat Si Saket is located on a lovely looking street.
Vientiane, Mekong Riverside
When the locals have had a satisfactory day at the Buddhist temples offering sincere prayers, they do not fail to visit the Mekong Riverside, one of the popular attractions in Vientiane. It seems the only spot in Vientiane to unwind socially.
A boat ride in the Mekong river will tell you much about the lives and times of the people Laos.
Locals and tourists take a stroll along the river on the sidewalks abutting it. The floating market on the Mekong river is a treat to watch.
The vendors on the boat heap the vessel with vegetables and fruits and they have a busy evening.
You can take a relaxed boat ride and dine. There are plenty of local foods that you would love that include Klao niaw (sticky rice balls) served in bamboo baskets, Laap (meat salad comprising of one or more of pork, duck, chicken, beef, fish meat), and the sweet Khao Tom which is again a sticky rice dish cooked with coconut cream and packed neatly in a banana leaf. The Vientiane street food is supposed to be very colorful and unique.
Ban Haysoke night market.American tourists have lauded this popular attraction of Vientiane that is actually a night market where one can try all the best of Laotian cuisine.
Some of the must-try Vientiane foods are:
Image credit: AG Gillmore
- Lao sausage that is made of pork basically and seasoned with a range of herbs and spices such as lemongrass, cilantro, shallots, and kaffir lime leaves.
- Tam Som is a green papaya salad that also contains, chili, fish sauce, salt, and sugar.
Pha That Luang
This is the most recommended attraction . This imposing looking stupa at the heart of Vientiane is also Laos’s national symbol. Though presently it is covered with gold, it was certainly not so when it was originally built during the Indian emperor Ashoka’s reign in the third century B.C. Yeah, it’s that old and no wonder it is their national monument and the most revered Buddhist structure.
This is a war memorial in Vientiane, one of the attractions in Vientiane that every Vientiane tour itinerary includes. This structure was built well after Laos’s independence from France in 1954. The construction started in 1957 and was completed only in 1968. Patuxay was dedicated to the freedom fighters of the country. It’s a noble gesture that is sincerely respected by the citizens of Laos. There are many figurines on the arch depicting ‘kinnary’, a figure woman and bird.
Tourists are allowed to on top of the arch to have a clear of the whole of Vientiane.
Being an important tourist attraction of Vientiane, there are several restaurants in the proximity, the most recommended of them is the Patuxay Café. It is found just behind the Patuxay monument. There is nothing fancy about it and the menu is also not that big. I wonder why it is highly rated; I think the street food in Vientiane should score much higher.
Night China Market
Naturally, this is the most visited attraction by the tourists to Vientiane. It reminds me of the “Quay Side” of Singapore. If you have the strength to walk for one full hour, you can give an excellent treat to your eyes and to your stomach. Eat a variety of Chinese and Laotian food, taste exotic fruit juices, drink Chinese beer and buy souvenirs from the unsmiling vendors.