Vientiane | Vientiane Travel Blog
Sa-Bai-Dee! This Vientiane travel blog says hello in Lao language so as to introduce to the largest and the capital city of Laos, Vientiane. Unlike any of the Southeast Asian capitals, Vientiane may not be a tech-savvy city, but it riches in cultures, traditions, natural wonders and peacefulness that still lingering today. Traveling in Laos is all about avoiding bustle and hustle, which is another form of therapy by soaking in oneself in slower pace of life.
On the banks of the Mekong River, where Vientiane located, Laotians revolved their lives around this mighty river. That is to say that the Mekong River is veritable lifeblood to the lao people wherever part of the country they’re living. Aside from being the country’s epicenter, Vientiane is believed to house a breast bone of the Buddha in Pha That Luang. This great sacred stupa undoubtedly draws visitors in, waking the city up from sleep.
Lao dish is also what the city is famous for. Lao Staple food is steamed sticky rice eaten by hand which is advisable to accompany it with Laos’ most famous cooking ‘Larb’ (spicy Lao meat salad) and Tum Mak Hoong (spicy papaya salad). But if you start to crave western food, several western restaurants are also available such as French cafe, Italian pizzerias etc. Don’t leave Vientiane just yet if you haven’t try Lao coffee, which is no second to the alcoholic brand in Laos.
A nightlife in Vientiane has limited time to spend, however. Due to the broad curfew throughout the country, a handful of entertaining venues is closed by 11.30 p.m. Hotels also follow the same procedure. One more tip is to use all Lao currency before leaving Vientiane since Lao kip can’t be used outside the country.
1.Vientiane Travel Blog | Patuxai
If you have ever seen a photo of gigantic cement arc-shaped door, you must have unconsciously seen the iconic Patuxai, one of the places to visit in Vientiane. Resembling the prominent one in Paris, Patuxai apparently reminds of the Arc de Triomphe as its absolute model. Patuxai sits in the heart of downtown on the end of Lane Xang Avenue leading to the Presidential Palace. Patuxai was built to devote how courageous Lao soldiers were during the fight for independence from France period. Its name literally refers to ‘Victory Gate’.
Following the footstep of the original, Patuxai was received influences from the western, at the same time, it extracted elements from Lao decoration style and incorporated Buddhist myth into the motif. It’s shown in the four corner of the tower and in the fifth central tower upon its deck, representing the five Buddhist principles of thoughtfulness: amiability, flexibility, honesty, honor and prosperity. Additionally, Hindu influences and mythological creatures like ‘Kinnaree’ and the three-headed elephant ‘Erawan’ are featured in this architecture as well. All its beauties and significance are something that make Patuxai one for this Vientiane travel blog.
2.Vientiane Travel Blog | Pha That Luang
It is good to know that exceptional golden stupa is not just a painting, but a gilded Pha That Luang with 500 kilos of gold leaf. For this reason, visiting Pha That Luang is one of the things to do in Vientiane for today’s Vientiane travel blog. Pha That Luang appears to be a religious symbol representing Lao sovereignty and is the epitome of Buddhist architecture. The quintessential aspect is that the stupa enshrined the breastbone of the Buddha, which received from missionaries of the Court of the Emperor Ashoka traveling from India.
In 1566, King Setthathirath relocated the former capital from Luang Prabang to Vientiane after the triumph over Burmese. King Setthathirath gave command for the construction of palaces, monuments, temples. Pha That Luang was also one of the plan and took 6 years of building. Pha That Luang stands 45 meters in height and 69 meters in width. It is surrounded by 30 small stupas with three levels signifying the level from Earth to Heaven. Ascending from the underworld, the level of 30 perfections of Buddhism and the prelude to the Kingdom of heaven, it is particularly designed to have each level narrower than the former level.
3.Vientiane Travel Blog | Wat Si Saket
There is a reason why it stands the oldest temple in Lao History. Wat Si Saket recalls the stories of Laos being survived through the Siamese invasion while its neighbors could not make it. Founded since 1818, two centuries are long enough being the oldest monastery and is one of the places to visit in Vientiane. The temple is a complete fusion between Thai and Lao architecture. With some parts of Thai ornament, it is believed to be the reason why the Thai army did not demolish this place.
Back to the 1818s, as was in the plan of King Anouvong, Wat Si Saket was once the meeting point between the King and the aristocracy. Today, the temple has kept its original style and undergone only twice restoration, which is minor when considering nearby buildings such as Haw Phra Kaew that took three times of renovation. Aside from incredible stories, Wat Si Saket was painted beautifully showing a great example of Buddhist architectural style with its notable Ordination Hall and prominent woodcarving five-tiered roofs and cloister that surrounding it.
The cloister is special by way of mounting 6,840 Buddha images onto the walls, of which are covered in bronze, ceramic and silver. Wat Si Saket has an eye-catching architecture and is in walking distance from Presidential Palace, which it beats the crowd and offers cozy ambience suitable for contemplation. Follow this Vientiane travel blog to visit Wat Si Saket if you want to have a truly cultural immersive experience.
4.Vientiane Travel Blog | Haw Phra Kaew
The beauty of Haw Phra Kaew is far beyond the camera lens. The significance is no less since it was built with a purpose of enshrining the Emerald Buddha which King Setthathirath received from Chiang Mai, Thailand. And it did a great job for keeping the Emerald Buddha for 2 centuries. Because of this, Vientiane travel blog will not complete without including Haw Phra Kaew.
In 1779, from Chiang Mai to Vientiane and back again to Bangkok, the Siam force devastated the city and the emerald Buddha was taken to Bangkok to enshrine in Wat Phra Kaew up until today. Despite of losing it, Haw Phra Kaew remains ample of precious cultural heritage worth visiting. Thanks to some of Lao religious art, Haw Phra Kaew has undoubtedly been transformed into a must-visit museum where Buddhist ceremonies are no longer carried out here.
Anyone wishing to stop by Haw Phra Kaew can do so easily since Haw Phra Kaew is situated right at the Setthathirath intersection and is on the opposite side of the famous Wat Si Saket. While planning a visit to Haw Phra Kaew, as one of the things to do in Vientiane, you can expect to see some of the old precious gifts to name such as gilded throne of the Emerald Buddha, stone Buddhas from the 6th & 9th century, delicate wood carving doors, Khmer stone steles, Buddhist manuscripts inscribed on palm leaves.
5.Vientiane Travel Blog | Night Market
The flow of foreign tourists visiting Vientiane Night Market is in consistent with the never-ending flow of the Mekong river. This Vientiane travel blog features the largest open-air night market in Vientiane, locally known as the Riverside Night Market. With lines of red pavilions, shopaholics can’t fail to see it. Setting up the stalls after the sun sets, this makeshift market offers a vast selection of products and items namely clothing, trinkets, artwork, Beer Lao T-shirts, fisherman pants, free size dresses, mobile accessories and MP3.
The riverside night market truly offers almost everything except food stall. Due to the government’s policy, food corners must be away from the river’s edge as to keep the waters clean and waste-free. But you need not worry to fill your empty stomach since restaurants and local bars can be found on the other side of the street. The whole riverside area is awoken not only by shoppers but joggers, dog-walkers as well as aerobic dancers. As one of the places to visit in Vientiane, sometimes people just come and promenade along the sidewalk with a touch of cooling river breeze.
6.Vientiane Travel Blog | The Buddha Park
The Buddha Park can’t fail to be listed in this Vientiane travel blog. Traveling 25 kilometers down southeastern from central Vientiane, it lies one of the most amazing Buddhist parks boasting over 200 Buddhist and Hindus statues. From its humble beginning in 1958, nobody would expect that the Buddha Park (Xieng Khuan) would be one of the places to visit in Vientiane today. Apart from that, the Buddha Park has recently transformed into a temple called ‘Wat Xieng Khuan’.
Nowhere else in Laos will you find such a lush green park with hundreds of marvelous religious statues. These meticulous architecture sculpted on the land of Vientiane are to give credit to Bunleua Sulilat, who was a spiritual leader and later migrated to Thailand and built the park with quite the same concept in Nong Khai called ‘Kaew Ku Park’. All sculptures were made of reinforced concrete resulting in long standing for decades.
The true star of the show, however, are a pumpkin-shaped tower and a reclining Buddha. The tower allows for a climb up to its deck and taking in the sight of the Buddha Park from atop. It is noticeable for demon’s mouth as the entrance for the pumpkin tower. The reclining Buddha is also absolutely the largest Buddha sculpture with 120 meters long in reclining posture.
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