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What to see in Vientiane

Vientiane Attractions

Vientiane hasn't got the obvious charm of Luang Prabang and sometimes suffers by comparison. Against that, Laos' capital has more in the way of traditional tourist attractions, and has put much effort into encouraging sustainable tourism. Visitors won't struggle to find interesting things to see and do, and many fall in love with the city's relaxed atmosphere and sleepy riverside scenes.

Vientiane's many Buddhist temples are its main drawcard and are interspersed with modern and colonial architecture - as they are throughout the country. The old and grandiose Ho Phra Kaew and the famous That Luang (the golden Royal Stupa) are among the city's best. Wat Si Saket is another favourite, and is known for its thousands of Buddha images. Travellers should note that although the temples in Laos are incredible, they tend to be fairly similar. Tourists should only stop at the best ones to avoid temple fatigue.

A visit to Vientiane should also include shopping in the Morning Market (Talat Sao), a stroll through Victory Gate, a cooking course on the banks of the Mekong River, a craft class at the Houey Hong Vocational Training Centre for Women, and an educational trip to the COPE Visitor's Centre. Regarding excursions, the weird but wonderful Buddha Park (Xieng Khuan) is a good option. So too is the small, laidback town of Vang Vieng, which is surrounded by green agricultural fields, friendly Hmong and Yao villages, and mountains that hold fascinating limestone caves.

COPE Visitor Centre

The COPE Visitor Centre can be a sobering reality-check for many tourists, but is definitely worth a visit. Statistically, Laos is the world's most bombed country, made so by a US precautionary policy…

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Ho Phra Kaew

Ho Phra Kaew is one of Vientiane's oldest and most grandiose temples. Its extremely interesting history sheds light on Laos' past relations with Thailand. More specifically, King Setthathirath built…

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Talat Sao (Morning Market)

Vientiane's Talat Sao (Morning Market) has two decidedly different sections. Depending on their budget and the type of experience they're looking for, visitors can choose between the shopping mall…

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That Luang Stupa

That Luang Stupa is a symbol of Buddhism and Lao rule, and is the country's most important religious building. The golden temple and its spire are visible from afar, and are an unforgettable welcoming…

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Victory Gate (Patuxai)

Modelled to mirror the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, Laos' Victory Gate is definitely a sight to behold. Indeed, Laotians decided to one-up their former colonial masters by building theirs slightly higher…

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