A visit to Vientiane reveals the past of the country in some of the extraordinary sights you’ll see. Some of the most famous Vientiane attractions are monuments to the past that are both tragic in their symbolism and uplifting in demonstrating the quiet determination of the Lao people to keep moving on.
But some of them are just majestic because of the stunning visuals they present to the visitor. A day or two spent visiting these beautiful Vientiane attractions leaves you with a sense of respect and admiration for the people of Laos.
City of Stunning Architecture
Just taking a cab ride around the city is enough to realise you need to spend more time in this city to appreciate these attractions up close. From ancient and imposing Buddhists temples and stupas to the government memorials honouring the Lao people who have sacrificed their lives for their country, Vientiane is a city that holds great value in their architectural treasures. Even the beautiful French-colonial homes, businesses and office buildings remind one of the struggles of Laos to remain free of foreign occupation.
Set in a peaceful tropical garden, the Patuxai monument, or Victory Gate, faces the presidential palace across Lang Xang Avenue. The construction was completed in 1968 and commemorates all the Lao soldiers who fought against the French for the country’s freedom from occupation. Visitors can climb to the top of the monument for a modest fee and enjoy a view of the park and surrounding area.
COPE Visitor Centre
Cope Visitor Centre exposes the dark history of Laos during the Lao Civil War. It also serves an illustration of the long-lasting effect of the bombs and land mines that once beset the country.
COPE, to this day, still provides rehabilitation and artificial limbs to people who continue to suffer from unexploded ordinance in the country.
Pha That Luang
It is said that Buddha’s breastbone is interred in this imposing golden stupa in the middle of the city. Originally dating from 300 CE, this Vientiane attraction has undergone restoration many time over the years and is a national symbol that all Lao’s recognise. It is one of the most photographed attractions in the city.
Every year in November, three days of religious rites, followed by a week-long festival is held around the stupa that attracts Buddhist worshippers from all over the country.
One of the strangest and most whimsical of Vientiane attractions has to be Buddha Park. The park contains many weird and creative statues that have to be seen to be fully appreciated. The statues were created by one person, a priest, shaman, and artist named Luang Pu Bunleua Sililat, beginning in 1958. The park itself is a verdant green, overgrown lush space that perfectly showcases the statues on display.
The park has become one of the most loved attractions in Vientiane both by tourists and the local people.
Vientiane Night Market
No description of Vientiane attractions would be complete without mentioning the Night Market of Vientiane. This attraction is one of the must-see attractions when you visit the city. Located right along a promenade beside the Mekong River, the market is the place to sample the best street food in the city while you wander among the stalls offering clothes, authentic Lao handicrafts, woven silk cloths and souvenirs.
It’s a meeting place for both tourists and residents of the city, and the perfect way to end a day of sightseeing in Vientiane.