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Vientiane– top 10 places to visit

A visit to Vientiane is a slow down in pace.  A quiet capital, Vientiane rewards the visitor who slows down and just enjoys what is going on around them.  There are a number of places to visit, but equally important is sitting and watching the locals go about their business.

You can print a PDF version of this information by downloading from here Vientiane – PDF 

View Vientiane, Laos in a larger map

Most of the main sites are within a 1 – 1.5km radius so easily done on foot from the centre of town.  Only That Luang and the Patuxai monuments are a little further out and may require a tuk-tuk
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1. Wat SisaketWat Sisaket Vientiane Laos Buddha

Address: Corner of Lane Xang and Th. Setthathirat

Cost: 5,000 LAK

Open: 08:00-12:00 and 13:00-16:00

Description:
Built in the early 1800s Wat Sisaket survived much of the destruction raiding Siamese war parties wrecked on Vientiane over the years. 

Uniquely the walls have alcoves that display thousands of smaller Buddha on top of the 300 or so seated Buddha. 

Other Attractions Nearby: Presidential Palace (no entry), Haw Phra Kaew, Talat Sao
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2. Haw Phra Kaew

Address: Th. Setthathirat, up from Wat Si SaketHaw Phra Kaew Vientiane

Cost: 5,000 LAK

Open: 08:00-12:00 and 13:00-16:00

Description:
Technically this is not a wat because no monks live here. 

But it was built to hold the Emerald Buddha in the late 1500’s, it was destroyed in 1828 wars and since then it has been rebuilt .  The emerald Buddha is no longer here – it was taken by the Siamese in the 1779 war and is now in Bangkok 

It is a hidden gem and well worth the time to visit –the sculptures are serene, the gardens green  and  it simply has a very peaceful feeling. 

 
Other Attractions Nearby: Presidential Palace (no entry), Wat Si Saket, Talat Sao
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3. That Dam – the black StupaThat Dam

Address: Th. Bartholomie between the American Embassy and Nam Phou fountain

Description:
Located in the middle of a roundabout this was once covered in gold.  However it was stolen during the various wars with Siam.  Periodically the weeds are cleared of so it really is black.

It is supposed to hold the 7 headed dragon that protected Vientiane citizens in the 1828 war. 

Other Attractions Nearby: Talat Sao
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4. Talat Sao – the morning market

Talat Sao Vientiane

Address: Lane Xang between the presidential palace and Patuxai

Open: All day – not just mornings

Description:
Talat Sao is being renovated from market stalls to an undercover mall arrangement.  Various vendors have stalls selling fabric, CDs, DVDs, jewellery, phones, clothing.

It is a very good place to buy textile souvenirs, many of which are cheaper than in the stores in town.But do watch for bag snatcher around here.

Other Attractions Nearby: That Dam
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5. Chou Anouvong Statue and ParkChou Anouvong statue

Address: alongside the Mekong

Description:
In 2010 Vientiane celebrated 450 years as capital of Laos PDR.  The statue and park were unveiled at this time. 

Chou Anou was king from 1805 to 1828 and he played an important part in reuniting the country after Siamese invasions and rule.

The park is popular with Lao families and the installed exercise equipment is well used.  If you are in the area between 6 & 7pm you may see group aerobic sessions

Other Attractions Nearby: Wat Si Saket, Nam Phou Fountain
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6. Nam Phou Fountain

Nam Phou fountain

Address: Nam Phou square, ‘centre of town’  pronounced nam-poo – don’t say the H

Description:
Less of an attraction, more of a reference point.  The fountain seems to go sometimes and not other times. 

A number of restaurants can be found around this area and there are always Tuk-tuks to be found here.

Other Attractions Nearby: Chou Anouvong, That Dam
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7. Wat Simuang

Wat Simueng

Address: Th. Setthathirat, past Wat Sisaket heading away from town

Description:
Wat Simuang has a different vibe from other Wats around Vientiane. 

It is the Wat that is supposed to protect the resident of Vientiane and it is heavily frequented.  It also has a neon sign inside the sim and animals outside. 

Good luck is dispersed to those followers who leave offerings

Other Attractions Nearby: Chou Anouvong, That Dam
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8. Cope Rehabilitation Centre

– HIGHLY RecommendedCope Visitor centre

http://www.copelaos.org/visit.php 

Address: Th. Kouvieng

Cost: Free, but donations are always welcome

Open: Daily 09:00 to 18:00

Description
During the Vietnam war Laos became the most bombed country in the world.  Today the remnants of those bombs are still killing and injuring people. 

The centre focuses on rehabilitating injured people – not just from bombs but from other accidents around Laos.

The displays are simple and not flashy but they are informative and moving.  This is a must-see as part of the understanding of recent history.

Other Attractions Nearby: Talat Sao,
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9. Patuxai

 Patuxay

Address: Lane Xang, opposite end from Presidential Palace

Cost: 5,000 LAK

Open: Daily 08:00 to 16:30

Description
This is the one place in Vientiane where you can climb and get a view over the flat city.  The park is very popular with locals and everyone wants their photo taken here.

This is from the actual plaque on the monument
"At the northeastern end of the LaneXang Ave. arises a huge structure resembling the Arc de Triomphe. It is the Patuxay or Victory Gate of Vientiane, built in 1962 (B.E. 2505), but never complete due to the country's turbulent history. From a closer distance it appears even less impressive, like a monster of concrete. Nowadays this place is used as leisure ground for the people of Vientiane and the seventh floor on top of the building and serves as excellent view point over the city."

Other Attractions Nearby:
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10. That Luang – the golden Stupa That Luang Golden Stupa

Address: Th. That Luang, 1.5 km further than Patuxai

Cost: 5,000 LAK

Open: Daily 08:00 to 12:00, 13:00-16:00

Description
This is a national monument commemorating Lao sovereignty and Buddhist beliefs.  The golden Stupa is a symbol of Laos PDR.  Originally constructed in the mid-1500s it has had a number of reincarnations since then. 

Other Attractions Nearby: National Assembly, People’s security museum

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