Friday, 20 June 2014

Vientiane - Capital of Laos

So far on our trip, every capital city we've visited - from Tokyo to Bangkok to Phnom Penh to Hanoi - has been a big, densely populated city with lots going on wherever you look. Laos' capital, Vientiane, however, is a very different story. Though it does have over 700'000 inhabitants, it feels much smaller than most other Asian capitals, with quiet streets and no tall buildings to be seen. There are some small attractions to see, such as museums, temples and palaces, and the city retains some colonial charm in its vaguely French architecture and street names, but overall we found it one of the more unremarkable stops on our trip. It's a pity, as we loved the previous two places we visited in Laos and were hoping for a clean sweep. Still, we enjoyed the Buddha Park just outside the city, and at least the city itself is not as crazy as some of those other capitals.

Our route by bus from Vang Vieng to Vientiane.
The relatively quiet streets of Vientiane.
Probably the most important attraction in the city is Pha That Luang. This gold-coated stupa is the national symbol of Laos, and can be seen on the national currency.

As well as the central stupa, there are several other important temples and spiritual structures nearby.

Saw this reclining buddha and decided to reconstruct a scene from the classic video game, Street Fighter II.

Getting a tuk-tuk to our next destination.
Patuxai Arch bears some resemblance to the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, ironic considering that it was built to commemorate those who lost their lives fighting for independence from France.

For the fifth or sixth time on this trip, we saw the Mekong River, and walked along its quiet banks.
Making a message of love out of bricks.

The Presidential Palace.
That Dam, another stupa.

Probably the highlight of our time in Vientiane was the Buddha Park located about an hour outside the city. Built over the course of several decades in the late 20th century, it contains over 200 Hindu and Buddhist sculptures, some of them quite surreal in design.
This cauldron-shaped building has three levels inside, representing Heaven, Earth and Hell.

Emerging from the top.

Back in Vientiane with its French-inspired buildings.
This was our last stop in Laos. We had thought about spending more time in this country, perhaps heading down south and seeing the 4000 Islands, but we have so many other places to see on this trip that we decided just to stick to the north. Slow transport and even slower wi-fi aside, it's been a splendid country to travel through, and it's convinced us that it's worthy of any Southeast Asian itinerary. Hopefully Laos will find more prosperity now that train links from China to Singapore are being built to pass directly through it, though I fear it may lose some of its unspoiled tranquility in the process. Either way, we're glad we got to see the country before such damage is done.


  1. hi i love your blog.. it feels like im traveling as well with you. great places and faces. hope to see more updates.

    well mine isn't much but hope you can drop by sometime ^_^

    1. Thanks, Jenny! Glad you're enjoying the blog, it's good to hear positive feedback from readers. Also, I like the illustrations you've posted on your blog. I'm very envious, as I'm terrible at drawing/painting!

      All the best.

  2. Jenny is right! I really like you're blog! :D Had to think of u two yesterday bc there was a guy Walking around in Hongdae with a "Petit prince" umbrella!! unfortunately i didn't have my phone with me so i couldn't take a pic. :(
    What's ur next stop?

    1. Ha, Angela and I would have loved that. That book crops up all over Korea. :)

      We just visited Singapore and are in Malaysia now. Will post a Singapore entry shortly!