Top Historical Sights in Vientiane
The city of Vientiane became the capital of Laos in 1563, and since then, this bustling city center has been recognized as the country’s cultural, artistic, and religious hub. From ancient Buddhist monuments to French colonial buildings, the city is an excellent place to dive into Laotian history. Here are some must-see attractions.
The Great Stupa (Pha That Luang)
Perhaps the most important national monument in the nation, this Buddhist stupa dates back to as early as the third century BC. The 148-foot-tall (45 meter) golden stupa is believed to enshrine a piece of the Buddha’s breastbone.
Wat Si Saket
This temple is believed to be the oldest surviving wat in the city. Built between 1819 and 1824, the structure managed to survive the Thai invasion in 1828 that claimed many of the city’s other Buddhist structures. A statue of the Buddha seated on a snake-like deity sits inside and is believed to date back to the 13th century.
Victory Gate (Patuxai)
Vientiane’s version of the Arc de Triomphe dominates the skyline of the commercial district. This seemingly out-of-place monument was erected in the 1960s to commemorate the Lao who perished during the prerevolutionary wars. A climb to the top rewards with panoramic views of the city.
Lao National Museum
The Lao National Museum, housed within a French colonial building, maintains a collection of art, artifacts, and objects tracing the history of Laos from prehistoric times to the present. It’s an excellent place to kick off a visit and brush up on your local history.
Wat Phra Keo
This temple was built in the 16th century as a place to house the famous Emerald Buddha after it was stolen from Thailand (then Siam). Today, the site serves as a museum for religious art, displaying a collection of Laotian Buddha statues, Khmer carvings, and other religious relics.