Vientiane Laos is an amazing destination that has a lot to offer backpackers, whether you are staying for just a few days or taking a long-term backpacking exploration around the country. Laos is a landlocked country sandwiched between Myanmar, Thailand, China, Vietnam, and Cambodia. Here is the ultimate guide on things to do in Vientiane, the capital of Laos.
Pha That Luang
Pha That Luang is one of the first places you should stop over and tour when you get to Vientiane, Laos capital. It is one of Lao’s most prominent and considered most important Buddhist temples. The temple dates back to the 3rd century when Indian monks first arrived at the land to spread the Buddhist religion.
The remains of the original structures have been found here. The Phat That Luang was built in1566 and was covered in gold leaf. The city was later invaded and the temple was destroyed. The French later rebuilt it in the 1930s. It is located 4kms from Vientiane.
Take a tour to this magnificent temple and view the galleries inside which contain ancient sculptures some of which are partially destroyed. Your tour of the temple will take you to three levels, the first level has some stones that surround the sacred area. There is a prayer gate at the center called Haw Wai and a Buddha Image. The second level also contains some stones and the topmost part is covered with a multi-stair parasol.
Vientiane Laos Patuxai
Patuxai is another majestic monument located at the center of Vientiane. Patuxai in English means Victory Gate, which was built in the 1960s to commemorate those who lost their lives during several wars. The walls, ceilings are decorated with Laos traditional ornaments. Part of your tour will involve going up 7 floors to the observation deck that gives you a chance to see the stunning views of the city.
Here you will find shops, and other hawkers selling snacks. The topmost area of the monument contains 5 towers decorated with flower styles. The area outside the monument is surrounded by beautiful flowers, fountains, and benches. You must also go back to the top of the monument and see the picturesque views at night.
Wat Si Saket
This is a monastery that was built in the 19th century located in central Vientiane. The monastery still maintains its originality from the time it was built. Interestingly, this is one of the few buildings that survived the Siamese attack that occurred in 1827. The monastery has been turned into a museum and your tour here will take you through images of Buddha from that date back as early as the 16th century.
There is also a storage room inside that houses many broken images of Buddha that were discovered while excavating the place. Restoration works were done to the temple in the 1930s that currently hosts monks. Wat Si Saket is located near the Presidential Palace and accessible through many routes within the city. It opens daily from 8 am to noon and then from 1 pm to 4 pm. Admission fees to the monastery museum cost 5,000 Kip per person which is less than a dollar.
Ho Phra Keo
Ho Phra Keo was a temple that was turned into a museum. It is located on the intersection of Setthathirath and Mahasot road in Vientiane. It was built in 1565. The temple was named after the Emerald Buddha from Thailand and this Buddha was enshrined in Ho Phra Keo for over 200 years.
The concept of building the temple was to have a place where royals could come and worship and to enshrine the Emerald Buddha. This Buddha was later moved from Ho Phra Keo to Thailand. The Siamese army later destroyed this temple in 1827. It was renovated several times and the current temple stands from what was renovated in 1942.
Outside the temple, you will see beautiful gardens. One notable item that stands out in this garden is a 2,000-year-old jar from the plain of jars. The plain of jars are jars located in Phonsavan in Xiangkhouang province that were used in burial ceremonies and whose creation is a mystery to date.
Ocean Park Vientiane Laos
On a laid back day in Laos city, spend a day enjoying the waters of Ocean Park Vientiane; one of the largest water amusement parks in the city. Ocean Park is your opportunity to cool off, add excitement and fun into your backpacking trip. Admission to the amusement park costs $6. The park was built in 2015 and is located at the ITECC. Enjoy water slides swimming and just relax by the poolside. The park is closed on Tuesdays but opens every other day from 11 am to 7 pm.
There are lots of food vendors in the park and hence you are not allowed to bring food to the park. A guard is stationed at the gate who checks bags and any food you come with is left at the entrance and you can collect it as you leave. Cabanas are also available for free although they do not have shade protection from the sun.
Lockers are available for hire to put your belongings as you swim. They cost 10,000KIP and you have to deposit an additional 20,000 KIP. The area also does not offer towels so remember to pack one before you leave the hotel.
That Dam In Vientiane Laos
That Dam is a landmark located at Vientiane center, in the middle of a square at a roundabout. That Dam has seen better days. It was previously plastered, however, most of this has worn off with time. The dates of when this landmark was built are unknown. The ancient history of Laos shows that such buildings were constructed to protect Buddhist ruins, a prominent monk or a king.
When Vientiane was attacked by Siamese, it is believed that a seven-headed Naga lived in That Dam to protect the people. Other mythical stories say That Dam was previously covered in gold before the Siamese invasion who left with the gold during the invasion. The Dam is open and available for 24 hours a day and entrance is free.
Laos Textile Museum
The Lao Textile Museum is a unique tour opportunity to see a magnificent display of antique fabrics that date back to centuries ago. The building where these textiles are is also a beautiful one to sightsee. If you are into fabric and textiles then you will enjoy the tour. It starts at the ground floor where you will encounter antique spinners that are still being used today.
The museum truly captures the culture and tradition of the people of Laos. Moving on upstairs you will find more fabrics that are hanging on walls and others placed in wardrobes. The majority of the textiles and patterns are inspired by South-East Asian traditions. This textile museum also exhibits a wide array of dyes and pots that were used in coloring the garments. You will also be guided through the process of creating many of these fabrics.
Kaysone Phomvihane Museum
This museum is named and commemorated after Kaysone Phomvihane who played an important role in the liberation of Laos from other countries that ruled the nation before gaining freedom. Kaysone was a leader of Laos People’s Revolutionary Party that liberated the country from French rule in 1975. Kaysone was the prime minister of the country since then and was believed to be in charge despite the country having a president called Souphanouvong who ruled the nation from 1975 to 1991.
The museum was officially opened in 2000 and the construction was largely financed by the Vietnam government. Inside the building, you will find photos of Kaysone and the party in which he led. The lower level of the museum hosts souvenir shops and meeting rooms. The exhibits do not have translations but there are two guides available to take you on an in-depth guided tour.
National Cultural Hall of Laos
The National Culture Hall of Laos is a huge government building that hosts several performances and films. It is located in central Vientiane. The building was constructed in a traditional Laos style that includes gold, white ornaments, and statues of Buddhists.
The hall is located on Nokeokoummane Road. The National Cultural Hall hosts a wide array of events from car expos, to child-friendly activities on a regular basis. It is opened daily however opening times vary depending on the events taking place at the venue.
Chao Anouvong Statue
This statue is located at Chao Anouvong Park and it was constructed to celebrate and honor King Anouvong who was the last king of the Lao Kingdom of Vientiane. The statue was built in 2010 during the 450th-anniversary celebration to honor the King and his efforts in trying to protect Vientiane from the Siamese invasion.
He did this unsuccessfully, he was eventually captured and the kingdom was forced to submit to Siamese rule. After his capture, the kingdom ceased to exist. The park where the statue is located is beautiful and next to the River Mekong. The park is a great place to enjoy walks, do some sports such as Yoga and running as well as shopping at the stores located here.