8 Most Popular Attractions in Vientiane

Martina Rosado
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Haw Phra Kaew

The Emerald Buddha is a famous statue of Buddha (named Luang Pho Thi) in Wat Phra Kaew, Vientiane, Laos. It is made from sandalwood and gold and has a base of silver.

The statue is a replica of a bronze original created by the Lao sculptor Lhao Keo and housed within Wat Phra Kaew since the temple was founded in the mid-18th century.

This sculpture is a popular stop on tourist itineraries, though the temple itself is not as interesting as some of the sites nearby.

One of the highlights for visitors is a view of the statue from the right of the temple from the entrance facing the river, a short walk from the main gate.

Also, several of the walking paths leading to the temple pass through Wat Pho, a Buddhist temple in the Old Town.

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Lao National Museum

Constructed in 1961, the Lao National Museum offers permanent and temporary exhibitions that showcase the development of the Lao people.

Some of the items on display include traditional Lao military costumes, natural history objects, archaeological finds, arts and crafts, and agricultural tools.

Permanent Exhibitions …

Site of the first Lao kingdom, the Kingdom of Lanxang, the Kingdom of Muang Pha Ngu, and the Kingdom of Lan Xang.

Artifacts from the Prehistoric Period, the Phra Pathong Period, Military, Chams, Satsangh (various ethnic groups), and the modern Lao time.

Temporary Exhibition …

The exhibition is organized in four thematic sections:

{1}. “Kalachun and the ‘Crossroads’ …The history and development of the Kingdom of Lanna, including various periods from the 12th century until modern times.
{2}. “Monuments of Conservation and Preservation” …Exhibition of the latest archaeological discoveries, the royal tombs of the kings of Lanna, the war equipments or weapons of the Lanna armies, and the Khone Okere Archaeological Site.

COPE Visitor Centre

The COPE Visitor Center is the perfect place to stop by if you are interested to find out more about the history of the whole area and its society. They provide a great variety of information regarding the progress of Lao PDR after gaining political independence and to revisit the World War II history.

They are located in the building of former French Embassy, which was built with a round shape inspired by a royal pavilion of the ancient Khom style of Lanna architecture.

In them, you may find interesting photos and video clips about the World War II history, as well as historic documents about the construction of an international airport, the paths of scientific research, the important events during the first peaceful revolution, and the winning of a trial against opium trafficking.

Wat Si Saket

(Wat Lakhien Vourist)

Wat Si Saket is a Buddhist temple in Vientiane, Laos, and is a tourist attraction located on the junction of Phonhagnoumen and Kantavongsen Streets. It is a novitiate for monastic students at the nearby Wat Saket.

This lookout of the Lao capital is a silent sanctuary for Lao Buddhists. Inside the complex there are several sacred buildings and statues which represent the Buddha: Avalokiteshvara, Boddhisatva of Compassion. The temple is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the ruins were built in the 16th century.

The Si Saket temple lost a large part of its grandeur in the city’s civil war of 1975 when many of its statues of Buddha fell.

Today the temple is one of the most popular tourist landmarks of Vientiane and is visited by thousands of Lao Buddhists. Religious ceremonies such as weddings, rituals and rites are still contemporary to the temple.

The red robe of the statue in the temple is called S–sa-s–san, which itself means –firm and unmovable.”

Buddha Park

Laos is one of the countries in Asia where Christians are quite well accepted and evidently practiced. This is in contrast to its neighbors like Thailand and Cambodia where the Christians are persecuted and barely exist. As such, there are many Christian churches in Vientiane that are dating from anywhere between 20 and 50 years ago during the war.

Many of these churches are actually Chinese and usually found in areas that have a large Chinese community. They are usually small and used for social purposes only. An exception however is the old St. Mary’s Church in Vientiane. It is very well maintained and you can actually walk in the old churchyard.

This old church is not the most beautiful and it is probably used primarily as a social environment like the other ones. What is a lot more interesting however are the religious inscriptions on the walls and the ceiling from the year 1857. That is when the proof of Christianity arrived in Vientiane on a ship from China, where a small group of Jesuits had been working.

Take a stroll through the old city and visit all the temples and churches. While in Vientiane, Vientiane Zoo, and Flowing Sands in Vientiane.

Patuxai

Built in 1818 by King Anouvong in order to show his loyalty to Siam (Thailand), this site was set in the royal circle and is the most prominent monument in Vientiane.

Vientiane’s most prominent monument is definitely the Patuxai monument. This large granite rock honors the Lao resistance to the Siamese occupation of the country following the fall of Vientiane in 1828. The capture of the Patuxai monument by the Siamese was considered a national humiliation for the nation, and the current Monument of Patuxai was constructed to restore the symbolic significance of the site.

The park outside of the Patuxay Monument is located on the riverbank and features the replica of a Lao warship in a moat. There are also cannons and an honor guard which serve as reminders of the Lao resistance movement and its eventual victory.

Opposite the Patuxay monument is another monument known as the Monument of National Hero Nai Raceela.

Commemorating the sacrifice of the 393 Nai Raceela who lost their lives in a battle near the temple of Wat Ong Teu, this monument is a testament to the Lao resistance to foreign occupation.

Vientiane riverfront

Pha That Luang

This Buddhist temple overlooks the Nam Khan River, the city’s second most frequented river. Because the river was inaccessible during the Vietnam War, it is home to some of the earliest monuments. The Buddha image on the left was built in 1353 and is said to be the oldest in Vientiane. The Buddha image on the right was built in 1505.