There isn’t much to see in Vientiane, and despite what the guidebooks say the central city is not pleasant for walking or anything else. A charmless mix of dirty newer structures, OK restaurants, matted electrical wires and glitzy walled temples. It’s too modern to be interesting and too shabby to be inviting.
The river has a highway running alongside it so there isn’t even a river front area. Lonely Planet pretends there is but the area they mention is quite a distance from the river.
We visited a couple of the wats listed in Lonely Planet.
Wat Si Saket
The best temple we found was Wat Si Saket which still has some historic buildings standing as it was the only building in town not destroyed by the Siamese in 1828.
I especially liked the painted murals in the sim. (No photos allowed inside and there are no postcards to buy.) The painting reminded me of the medieval murals of Europe, a stylized flat style depicting details of battles and daily life.
Pha That Luang
We took a tuk tuk out to this temple stupa considered to be the most important national monument in Laos.
The route takes you up the fancy divided road past the Patuxai, the mini Arc de Triomphe.
There is a huge parking lot in front of the structure so I imagine they get tons of visitors at certain times. Arriving on a Saturday afternoon, the parking lot was empty with few visitors at the stupa.
Painted gold from top to bottom, the structure is or isn’t that appealing depending on your tastes. The low wide structure is difficult to capture in photos.
At the time of our visit they weren’t letting anyone walk on the various levels as Lonely Planet suggests that you can do.
Around this area are other kitschy temple structures.
November 4, 2018
For links to all the posts in this series see the Laos/Cambodia page.