Vientiane in Laos is one of the most frequently visited destinations in the country as this is the capital as well as the largest city of Laos. In almost all discussions about Laos Tour, people cannot help interesting in the iconic Vientiane.
Being the capital of Laos in 1563 and located on the banks of Mekong River, close to the border with Thailand, Vientiane is significant, beautiful, and indispensable. During the French colonial rule, Vientiane was the administrative capital, and now thanks to the economic developments, the historical capital becomes the economic center of Laos. The modest size of Vientiane is dotted with various religious attractions, and the most notable ones include Pha That Luang – the most renowned Buddhist stupa in Laos, Wat Si Muang Temple, Patuxai memorial monument, Wat Si Saket, etc. These religious structures are distinctive in the middle of the natural splendor. In fact, the land of Vientiane is legendary and full of antique Khmer pagodas and temples for the visitors to contemplate and worship. For the better hospitality services, there are more and more upper-class hotels are built in Vientiane, which showers the capital with the modern face. Anyhow, some parts of this destination remain sleepy and intact.
Remarkably Religious Attractions in Vientiane
Pha That Luang
Pha That Luang (the Great Stupa) is the most spectacular gold-covered Buddhist Stupa in Laos. The site is located 4km from thecenter of Vientiane, and it is unique and enigmatic. Arguably, Pha That Luang is the most significant national monument and also the nation’s official symbol of Laos. The construction of this site is linked to a legend: King Setthathirat moved capital from Luang Prabang to Vientiane in 1566 and ordered to build Pha That Luang at that time. The 45m-tall construction was later restored in 1953. Legendarily, the golden stupa is said to hold the Lord Buddha’s relic. Indeed, this attraction wins the visitors’ interest in the impressive gold pyramid shape encompassed by 30 little stupas, and each is designed graciously. On the well-protected grounds of the temple, there stand out various statues of Buddha and deities, who dress the bright saffron robes. In early November every year, the main event of Boun That Luang Festival is held at Pha That Luang that attracts thousands of people come to contemplate the iconic Stupa, and join the colorful atmosphere of the parade, live music, and holy ceremony.
Wat Si Muang
Wat Si Muang is the famous worshipping site in Vientiane that gives you an idea of how the old animist belief combined with Theravada Buddhism. There is a legend about the construction of Wat Si Muang: in 1563, during the building procedure of this temple, a young pregnant woman named Si Muang voluntarily sacrificed her life to alleviating the angry spirits. She jumped into a hole in the ground in which the central pillar of the temple was placed. And, Wat Si Muang is named after this legendary woman, and the temple itself is locally referred to as “the mother temple” of Vientiane. Regarding the interior, it is lavishly decorated with the gold-carved pillars and brightly painted scenes from the Buddha’s life. Nowadays, an influx of pilgrims come to worship and pray for the goodness here. People say the intangible power at this temple can make wishes true.
Wat Si Saket
Wat Si Saket gains fame for thousands of little Buddha statues and the rows with the seated Buddha. These constructions could be dated from the 16th and 19th century, and are made from wood, stone, and bronze. There are over 6,800 Buddha statues in all sizes. Visiting this temple, you’ll be impressed at the huge collection of Buddhism images. In the early morning, Wat Si Saket is filled with local pilgrims that join the daily ceremony of praying and marking merits. Around the temple is the big shade of various tropical fruit trees. All creates the green and peaceful atmosphere for everybody to feel relieved. Wat Si Saket is the oldest Buddhist monastery in Laos for you to see the Khmer-style Buddha statues – the evidence of the optimal skills of Khmer craftsmen!
Patuxai Victory Monument has the five ornate towers, looking impressive as the centerpiece of Patuxai Park. The Park was dedicated to the Laos who lost their life due to the fight for independence against the France, and other Siam and Japan. The construction of Patuxai begun between 1957 and 1968, was to pay homage to the nation’s culture, traditional, and independence. In the exterior, you see the lotus leaves, the stupa-shaped towers, and the statues of animist kinnari (half-female and half-bird figures) and nagas (dragons) – all are Buddhist religious symbols. In the interior, the wall is richly painted while the ceiling is featured with the depictions of gods, goddesses, and elephants. On the top of Patuxai, it is ideal to get the panoramic view of the old-fashioned and beautiful Vientiane.
Lao National Museum
Lao National Museum is the ideal address to get a glimpse of Lao’s history, culture, and people, from the prehistoric time to the modern day. It was built in 1925 and formerly called Lao Revolutionary Museum. Here, you find lots of artifacts and photographs. In particular, the ground floor exhibits the antique items of dinosaur bones, Khmer sculpture, pottery, and the interesting display of the intact jars from the Plain of Jars (Savannakhet). Going upstairs, it is easy to notice the depictions of Laos in the Siamese invasion, the French colonial time, the American War, etc. Also, expect to read some historical materials along the site!
Morning Market (Talat Sao)
The Talat Sao morning market is in the center of Vientiane, which opens from 07:00 to 16:00 every day. This is the popular attraction for the tourists to see the bustling face of Vientiane. Here, you find various pretty shops, restaurants, vendors, etc., that sell a variety of items, from silk and wooden crafts to home applications and everything in between. Talat Sao is the must to see to fulfill your baggage before saying goodbye to Vientiane.
Best Periods to Visit Vientiane in Laos
The tropical climate in Vientiane features the dry (November to May) and wet season (from June to October). In general, the southwest monsoon season with rains starts in May or June. Then, the rainy condition goes on until the end of October. Referring to the most comfortable periods to visit Vientiane, it should be November through February, when Vientiane is sunny. The temperature keeps rising in March, April, and May. And, the peak tourism season in Vientiane runs from November to March, when the condition is cool and comfortable. Especially, April is when to see the locals celebrate their New Year’s water festival to cool down the hot days. Do not hesitate to contact Indochina Charm Travel – the Laos Travel Agency to customize your own trip!
How to Get to Vientiane
There are two basic ways to approach Vientiane in Laos. One is by the direct flights from the neighboring countries to Vientiane’s Wattay International Airport, and the other is by crossing the Friendship Bridge from Thailand.
In particular, Vientiane’s Wattay International Airport is around 6km west of the city center. You can take the direct flights from China Eastern, EVA, Lao Aviation, Vietnam Airlines, or Thai Airways to arrive there. About the Friendship Bridge, it has connected Thailand and Laos since 1994. It was the first bridge across the Mekong River and separated the 2 countries, in particular, between NongKhai City of Thailand and the eastern edge of Vientiane.