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Home : Holidays : Southeast Asia : Laos : Laos City: -Vientiane

Laos City: -Vientiane

The City--In 1563, King Setthathirat made Vientiane (in Lao language Vieng Chan) the capital of the kingdom of Lane Xang. The two most important Wats of Vientiane, Wat That Luang and Wat Phra Kaeo date back to that time.

In 1827 Vientiane had been conquered and sacked by a Siamese army. For decades the town lay in ruins, until the French, at the beginning of their colonial reign rebuilt it. However, Vientiane today does not feature French-influenced architecture to the same extent as Phnom Penh and Saigon. Instead there is a strong Thai influence.

With barely half a Million inhabitants Vientiane is the smallest capital in Southeast Asia (except for Bandar Seri Begawan of Brunei).

Anousavari Monument

This monument - Vientiane's Arc de Triomphe - was built after World War II but before the takeover of the communists, in commemoration of the fallen Lao soldiers of various wars.

Monument of the Revolution

The monument in the Northeast of the city was built after the victory of the Pathet Lao in 1975.

That Luang

That Luang, a large Stupa on a hill in the Northeast of the city, is one of the most important religious sites in Laos. Legends claim that in the 3rd century, emissaries of the Buddhist Indian Emperor Asoka had built a Stupa here, containing a relic of the Buddha. Archaeological excavations, however, could not provide proof. Found instead were remains of a Khmer temple dating back to the time between the 11th and the 13th centuries. The present Stupa was constructed during the reign of King Setthathirat, in 1566. However, it was several times damaged or destroyed, then reconstructed.

Wat Sisaket

Built in 1818, during the reign of King Anou, Wat Sisaket is one of only a few buildings in town not sacked by the Siamese in 1827. Not by origin but in its present construction, is the oldest building in town.

Wat Phra Kaeo

This Wat, like Wat Phra Kaeo of Bangkok, is not a monastery but served as royal temple. In its original form, it had been built in 1565 by King Setthathirat to house the Emerald Buddha brought from Chiang Mai. In 1788 the Emerald Buddha was taken to Bangkok by the Siamese. Since then, it's the holiest statue, not of the Laotians but of the Thais. Wat Phra Kaeo in Vientiane was mostly destroyed during the Siamese invasion of 1827. In the 40's and 50's of this century it was meticulously reconstructed.

Vang Xang

The ruins of this Mon temple, are by the road from Vientiane to Luang Prabang, some 66 kilometres from Vientiane. Vang Xang was built in the 11th century when Buddhist Mon and Hindu Khmer ruled Southeast Asia. Five Buddha statues remain. Allegedly, they stood on a former elephant cemetery.

Nam Ngum Dam

The dam and its turbines, about 90 kilometres from Vientiane, direction Luang Prabang, generate electricity for much of the country. The area is very picturesque. Hundreds of islets are scattered all over the lake. In some places enormous tree trunks jut out of the water. Boat tours on the lake are a favourite pastime.