That Luang stupa, Vientiane, Laos.
Photo by Mickstout
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people pass straight through Vientiane, the capital of Laos, without
giving it much of a chance. This is a shame as it's an extremely relaxed
town with a real colonial feel, some lovely walks - especially along
the Mekong river front - a fine selection of accommodation and masses
of tasty but low cost restaurants and cafés.
main attractions in Vientiane involve temples, with the Pha That Luang
stupa and its surrounding temples not only the pick of the Vientiane
bunch, but also the most important religious totem in the country.
The design of the 45m high Pha That Luang - the name in full translates
as 'World Precious Sacred Stupa' - represents many aspects of Buddhist
scriptures, though the primary artistic inspiration is the lotus flower.
The stupa is 4km from Vientiane's centre.
Vientiane, Arc Patuxai (inspired by Paris' Arc du Triomphe).
Photo by O.Zvacek
The Patuxai monument is fairly new, completed in 1968, and fairly visible from most of Vientiane. Tourists can climb to the top of the structure for a fine panoramic view of the city.
Apart from these two sights there are several other shapely temples
on offer, variously adorned with ornate roofs, carvings, paintings,
gold, Buddha images and other more unusual sculptures.
That Luang, West Temple.
Then there's another stupa charmingly named That Dam stupa, an improving
National Museum, a bizarre Buddha Park, scenic river views, colourful
friendly locals, professional and effective massages, places to swim
and plenty of superb cafés around to keep a walker or biker
The Morning Market is an easy walk from most hotels and hostels and a lively, colourful place to shop for local produce or souvenirs.
Wat Si Muang. This temple was built on the remains of a Khmer shrine in 1563.
Photo by O.Zvacek
Accommodation in Vientiane ranges from a small number of luxury hotels to a large number of cheap guest houses aimed at backpackers.
Transport around the city is easy and cheap with a selection of mini electric buses, tuk-tuks or taxis.
Internet is no problem in Vientiane or just about everywhere Laos. It's also quite fast and inexpensive.
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