The capital and largest city in Laos, Vientiane sits on the Mekong River on the border with Thailand. Visiting Vientiane is a must on a trip to Laos, and I have four places you should definitely put on your bucket list!
This ‘Great Stupa’ is a national symbol, and appears on Laos’ official seal. The most sacred monument in the country, That Luang is said to have been built in the third century to provide a sacred home for a breastbone of Buddha. The current structure was built by King Setthathirat in 1566. You will notice a statue of the King in the main entrance to That Luang.
Despite being damaged by the Burmese, Siamese and Chinese during invasions in the 18th and 19th centuries, That Luang is in great condition.
At this stupa you will find gorgeous details in Buddha images, lacquer doors and flowers.
This ‘Victory Gate’ was built between 1957 and 1968. It is dedicated memory of the Laotian soldiers who died during World War II and in the independence war from France in 1949. The government had received funds from America to build a new airport, but built this structure instead.
The structure is quite stunning, and features a great amount of detail. The interior is decorated with depictions of the Vishnu, Brahma and Indra.
COPE Visitor Centre
Between 1964 and 1973 the US army dropped over two million tons of ordnance on Laos. This made it the most heavily bombed country per capita in history, something I had no idea about until I visited The Cooperative Orthotic & Prosthetic Enterprise (COPE).
There are countless numbers of unexploded ordinances in Laos, and this means one person is killed or injured almost everyday by them. COPE provides orthotics, prosthetics, physical rehabilitation and occupational therapy to those affected by these ordinances, so they can develop independence and become active members of society.
The centre includes an exhibition, a small cinema room to watch documentaries, shop and cafe.
Walk along Mekong Riverside Park
This is a great place to relax after a busy day. You can sit and watch the sun set over the Mekong, join in with exercise classes and browse a large range of market stalls.