Vientiane is a prefecture of Laos, located in the north-west of the country on a curve of the Mekong River. It borders Thailand and covers an area of 3,920 km2 . The national capital, Vientiane was created in 1989, when it was split off from Vientiane Province.
Vientiane city was built in the 16th century under the reign of King Saysethathirath. The older part of the city has ancient temples, museums, monuments, and parks.
There are many protected areas in the prefecture including Phou Khao Khouay National Protected Area, Phou Phanang National Protected Area and Houay Ngang Forest Reserve. Visiting Vientiane is a good chance to embark yourself in nature.
Wat Si Saket is the famous place where many visitors and locals often go to pray and make merit as well as to offer food to the monks. It is well-known for its cloister wall housing thousands of tiny Buddha images and rows with hundreds of seated Buddha.
There are more than 6,800 Buddha in total, which mainly date from the 16th and 19th centuries and are made from wood, stone, and bronze in all sizes. Furthermore, Wat Si Saket has beautiful architecture and layout with history dated back to 1818. Chao Anuvong, the last king of the Lan Xang Kingdom built it in early Bangkok-style architecture mixed with its own unique style.
There are many interesting features such as its lovely surrounding verandas, an ornate five-tiered roof, a drum tower, a small library building with a Burmese-style roof and the flowered ceiling of the ordination hall. It is an ideal place for visitors who are fond of art. You will have chance to see many figurines and sculptures fashioned by highly skilled craftsmen such as the five-metre long beautiful detailed wooden naga (in Sanskrit, it means serpent deity) as well as a Khmer-style Buddha seated on a coiled naga.
Opening Hours: Daily from 08:00 – 16:00
Location: On Lan Xang Road (across the street from the Presidential Palace), Vientiane
Wat Ho Phra Keo
Wat Ho Phra Keo is one of the most impressive temples in Vientiane. This building, originally built in 1565 as a personal place of worship for King Sayasetthathirath, housed the Emerald Buddha (Pha Keo) before it was taken to Bangkok by the Siamese in the 19th century. Prince Souvanna Phouma, an engineer and future prime minister of Laos, directed the reconstruction of Wat Ho Phra Keo between 1936 and 1942.
The name Ho Phra Keo means ‘Altar of the Emerald Buddha’, in reference to the fact that only the altar remained when the statue was removed. The temple is featured with carved wooden details, Hindu lacquered door and many statues around it which are made of cope, stone or clay and slated by gold in some area of its body. This temple is also a place to keep valuable exhibit of golden throne, Kh’mer Buddhist statue, wooden carved arts, bronze frog drums and palm-leaf manuscripts.
Opening Hours: The temple is open from 08:00 to 12:00 and 13:00 to 16:00 every day.
How to get there: As is the case with Vientiane’s other attractions, Ho Phra Keo is just a short stroll, bicycle ride or tuk-tuk trip from other parts of the city centre.
Lao National Museum
Lao National Museum located in a two-storey colonial mansion since 1985, houses enough relics of Lao history and culture, both ancient and modern.
The ground floor houses a mixture of ancient items such as dinosaur bones, pottery shards and Khmer sculptures that trace the early history of the region. The upstairs exhibits are better organised and trace the modern history of Laos from the Siamese invasions and the French colonial period to the American military presence during the Vietnam War, and through to the present day.
There is a heavy emphasis on the struggle for independence and the introduction of communism in 1975, which explains why the museum was originally named the Lao Revolutionary Museum.The final room upstairs is a shrine to Kaysong Phomvihane, the prime minister from 1975-1991, with all manner of his personal items including a chest expander and spoon he once used.
Talat Sao (Morning market)
Located at the eastern corner of Lan Xang Rd. and Khu Vieng Rd. in the heart of Vientiane, the Morning market is open daily from 07:00 until around 16:00. The market is two-storey and covered by several sloping roofs. Depending on the time of day and the weather conditions the market can be nearly empty or almost full. Visitors can find a wide range of colourful textiles including silks, wall-hangings and other decorative pieces, traditional wood carvings, mulberry paper and a variety of basketry made from bamboo and rattan.
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