Vientiane Attractions



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  • Patuxai


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  • While Vientiane has some sightseeing attractions, the charm of the city is felt when wandering along the river, sitting in a cafe just watching the passing parade, and generally chilling out. It's probably best to start sightseeing at the temples. Some temples charge an entry fee for foreigners and are open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., with a noon to 1 p.m. lunch break. The monks of those that don't charge a fee will be grateful for a small donation in the box.

    Wat Si Saket, now signposted as Sisaket Museum, is probably the oldest standing temple in Vientiane and among the most atmospheric. It was built in 1818 by Chao Anou in the Bangkok style and hence was left unsacked when much of Vientiane was razed in a Siamese raid in 1828. Within the cloister walls are hundreds of niches housing Buddha images large and small, made of wood, stone, silver and bronze. Ho Phra Keo opposite Wat Si Saket was King Setthathirat's former royal temple, which once held the Emerald Buddha now housed in Bangkok's Wat Phra Kaew. The Black Stupa (That Dam) is the mythical abode of a seven-headed dragon that protects Vientiane.

    There are three other places worth visiting. Pha That Luang, a three-layered gilded stupa, is the national symbol and most important religious monument of the country. The current version dates from 1566. Vientiane's most important festival, Bun That Luang, is held here in November on the night of the full moon.

    Patuxai ("Victory Gate") is a local rendition of Paris' Arc de Triomphe. Besides the elaborate Buddhist embellishment, it differs from the original in having four gates instead of two. Then there is the Lao National Museum next to the Lao Plaza Hotel. The historical exhibits on the first floor are modest, though they are very fascinating in depicting some of the early history. They include one of the original jars from the Plain of Jars and various Stone- and Bronze-Age implements.

    One of the most fascinating sightseeing attractions is located some 24 kilometers from the city, about six kilometers east of the Friendship Bridge. Buddha Park is a bizarre outdoor collection of huge concrete sculptures of Buddhist and Hindu deities and real and imaginary beasts. The reclining Buddha is especially impressive.

    Apart from sightseeing, you should experience a traditional Lao massage. There are lots of massage places all over the town, from hole-in-the-wall joints to upscale establishments. Prices range from $3 to $6 an hour USD, but are higher for the truly luxurious spalike places that go above and beyond to pamper you. There's also a nice little herbal sauna in Wat Sok Pa Luang (the forest temple) that charges 10,000 kip (Lao currency) for the sauna with free tea.

    Then there is shopping. There's no better place to go than the Morning Market, with its large collection of indoor stalls selling pretty much anything, including textiles, electronics, watches, clothing, gold and jewelry. Depending on the product, you should negotiate; discounts can vary from 10 percent to 33 percent. Despite the name, it operates from around 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

    Lao Textiles

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    Thanon Nokeo Khumman

    Exquisite and Original Handwoven Silks... read more

    T'Shop Lai Gallery

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    Vat Inpeng Street
    Ban Haysok

    Authentic Modern Art with Cafe... read more

    Touch Rugby

    Vat Nak Road
    Sisattanak District

    Weekly Touch Rugby Game... read more

    Hash House Harriers

    Samsenthai Road
    Asian Vehicle Rental

    Fun Run and Drinking Tradition... read more

    Lane Xang Hotel Swimming Pool

    1 Fa Ngoum
    Lane Xang Hotel

    Place to swim and relax... read more

    KM 6 Golf Course

    KM6, Route 13 South
    Ban Nonesavang

    Nine Holes at Compact Course... read more

    Lao National Culture Hall

    Samsenthai Road
    Opposite Lao National History Museum

    Imposing Edifice... read more

    Carterie du Laos

    118/2 Setthathirath Road

    Fine Photographs and Handcrafted Cards... read more

    Deli Bakery

    63 Thanon Samsenthai
    Inside Lao Plaza Hotel

    Tempting Gateaux and Speciality Breads... read more

    Vientiane Swimming Pool

    off Khoun Boulom Street

    National Pool... read more

    National Stadium

    Nokeokoummane Road

    Central Sports Arena... read more

    Cultural Park

    Thadeua Road
    Opposite the Friendship Bridge

    Day For All The Family... read more

    Mandarina

    101/1 Samsenthai Road
    Next to Lao-Paris Hotel

    Fashions and Accessories... read more

    That Luang Market

    Nong Bone Road

    Pungent Aromas and Unusual Produce... read more

    Phaeng Mei Gallery

    117 Nongbouathong Tai Village
    Sikhottabong District

    Intricate Designs... read more

    National Library

    Corner of Setthathirat Road and Pangkham Street
    Opposite Nom Phu Fountain

    French Colonial Oasis Of Quiet... read more
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