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Vientiane

Vientiane

Vientiane (Lao: ວຽງຈັນ, Viang chan) is the capital and largest city of Laos, on the banks of the Mekong River near the border with Thailand. Vientiane became the capital in 1563 due to fears of a Burmese invasion. Vientiane was the administrative capital during French rule and, due to economic growth in recent times, is now the economic centre of Laos.
Vientiane Overview
Vientiane is The capital of Laos, located on the bank of Mekong river, is a charming city brimming with ancient temples, beautiful gardens and fascinating museums. Places of particular interest here are Wat Prakeo, National Museum and Wat That Luang as well as Wat Sisaket and the Central Market.

The influence of the French can be seen most prominently in the architecture and cuisine of Vientiane. The sidewalks are wide-open and usually shaded by decade-old trees. As in most of the tropics, this town puts a unique spell on the visitor. It is perhaps the sight of gracious old French colonial buildings, or the croissants and coffee by the sidewalk in China Street - it must be the cheeky grins that the girls on motorcycles give you as they skim alarmingly close.

Visitors can walk to Vientiane's pagodas from their hotels, Laotians will smile at the walkers and usually say sa-bai-di ("hello"), and it is just a sheer joy to feel safe and secure while stretching the leg muscles. Vientiane is a Tourist destination in Laos for those who want to look and also be part of what they are seeing in Laos holidays.
Vientiane History
Vientiane has been continuously inhabited since the 10th century. The Khmer, Siamese, Burmese and Vietnamese have all governed at one time or other, repeatedly conquering and often sacking the city even after it had been integrated into the first Lao kingdom known as Lan Xang, meaning the 'Land of a Million Elephants'.
 
Vientiane reached a new height of importance in 1560 when King Setthathirath relocated his capital from Luang Prabang in the north to present-day Vientiane. He built the impressive That Luang stupa on the site of an ancient Khmer temple east of the city. This Buddhist icon remains a major symbol in Laos and is an important centre for major Buddhist festivals. Vientiane suffered in the late 1800s when the Siamese razed the city. Only one Buddhist temple was left standing, Wat Sisaket, built in 1818.
 
All but abandoned until the late 19th century, when the French colonised Laos as part of their Indochina plan, Vientiane has been on a slow path of recovery ever since. The French made Vientiane the capital of their new colony and most of the city today dates from this period or later. Many temples have been rebuilt and are now an integral part of daily life.
 
Today the city is a mixture of old and new as it undergoes rapid development into a modern city. In 2010 Vientiane will celebrate its 450th birthday.
 
Vientiane has been continuously inhabited since the 10th century. The Khmer, Siamese, Burmese and Vietnamese have all governed at one time or other, repeatedly conquering and often sacking the city even after it had been integrated into the first Lao kingdom known as Lan Xang, meaning the 'Land of a Million Elephants'.
 
Vientiane reached a new height of importance in 1560, when King Setthathirath relocated his capital from Luang Prabang in the north to present-day Vientiane. He built the impressive That Luang stupa on the site of an ancient Khmer temple east of the city. This Buddhist icon remains a major symbol in Laos and is an important centre for major Buddhist festivals. Vientiane suffered in the late 1800s when the Siamese razed the city. Only one Buddhist temple was left standing, Wat Sisaket, built in 1818.
 
All but abandoned until the late 19th century, when the French colonised Laos as part of their Indochina plan, Vientiane has been on a slow path of recovery ever since. The French made Vientiane the capital of their new colony and most of the city today dates from this period or later. Many temples have been rebuilt and are now an integral part of daily life.
 
Today the city is a mixture of old and new as it undergoes rapid development into a modern city. In 2010 Vientiane will celebrate its 450th birthday.
Vientiane climate and best time to visit
The best months for good weather in Vientiane trip are January, February, March, October, November, and December. On average, the warmest months are February, March, April and May February is the driest month. The rainiest months are May, June, July, August, and September.
Vientiane Transportation
By Air

Laos is a convenient hub for travel in the Indochina region. Indochina travel firstly come to Vientiane Capital is the main point of entry for Lao PDR. Most visitors to the country come either through Wattay International Airport, or the Friendship Bridge 18 kilometers away. The majority of tourists come from Vietnam,Thailand, either overland from the border town of Nong
khai, or by air from Bangkok.
 
Wattay International Airport is the main international airport in the country. Lao Airlines, Thai Airways International, Bangkok Airways, Vietnam Airlines and China Yunnan Airlines offer a range of scheduled flights to Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, Ho Chi Minh, Hanoi, Kunming, Jinghong, andKualalumpur
 
Lao Airlines’ flights offer regular services to all provincialcapitalsincluding : Luang Prabang, Luang Namtha, Oudomxay, Xiengkhouang, Savannakhet and Pakse. 
 
Most travelers arrive via the Friendship Bridge connecting Vientiane with Nongkhai, Thailand. The bridge was built in 1994 and is the easiest land route from Thailand into Laos. Open daily from 6:00am – 10:00pm. 
 
By Bus
 
+ Northern Bus Station 
 
Vientiane is also connected to most major towns in Laos by an extensive and cheap network of buses. From Vientiane it is possible to catch a bus at the Northern Bus Station directly to the northern cities: Phonhong, Vang Vieng, Luang Prabang, Oudomxay, Luang Namtha, Bokeo, Phongsaly, Xieng Khouang and Houaphanh, and even to China\Vietnam.
 
+ Southern Bus Station
 
The Southern Bus Station runs buses directly to the southern cities of Paksan, Thakhaek, Laksao, Seno, Savannakhet, Salavanh, Sekong, Attapeu and Pakse. The Morning Market bus station runs buses directly to Nong khai, Udon Thani, Khonekaen in Thailand, and around Vientiane.
 
The most popular method of transport in Vientiane is the Tuk-Tuk. These can be hailed almost anywhere in Vientiane but bargaining is essential. Taxis, Bicycles, motorbikes, and cars are also available for hire at many guest houses, restaurants, and shops in Vientiane. 
 
Laos tour of Bicycling and walking in particular are great methods of seeing the city, as it is almost completely flat, and most attractions are within a short distance of the center.

By Tuk Tuk


As a tourist, you basically have four options when it comes to transport. You can take tourist tuk tuks, regular tuk tuks, shared jumbos or rent a bicycle. Tourist tuk tuks hang out in tourist areas and they will have laminated cards showing their fares. Don’t pay what’s on the card—you’ll be able to bargain them down, but you’ll still get now here near a fair price (generally about 10,000 Kip for short distances)
 
Regular tuk tuks can be hailed off the street; they don’t generally just hang out in tourist areas. You will get better prices from them, but make sure not to hail one near a bunch of tourist tuk tuks—they will harass the driver and maybe worse.
 
Shared jumbos are the cheapest option. Basically a bus for all intents and purposes, they run regular fixed routes around town and charge a few thousand kip per person.
 
As Vientiane is a flat city and it has nowhere near the traffic of other Southeast Asian capitals, renting a bicycle is a good option. The cost is usually 10,000 Kip per day.
 
 

Things to do and see in Vientiane
Vientiane has positioned attractively on the banks of the Mekong River towards the border of Thailand. Vientiane attractions offer an ideal cultural blend of French colonial architecture on one side and Buddhist temples on the other end.

The beauty of the city lies in its exotic sightseeing options, which makes sure that every visitor enjoys sparkling experience. Some of the top known sites to watch are Patuxai Victory Monument, Buddha Park, Wat Si Muang, Black Stupa, National History of Museum and many others. 

+ Buddha Park
 
Buddha Park (aka Xieng Khuan) is a famous sculpture park with more than 200 religious statues including a huge 40-metre high reclining Buddha image. The best spot for photography here is on top of the giant pumpkin structure standing about three stories high. The entrance is crafted to look like a demon’s mouth (about three metres high) with a stone ladder inside leading to a bird's eye view of the entire Xieng Kuan Park.
 
The most outstanding ones include Indra, the king of Hindu gods riding the three-headed elephant (aka Erawan and Airavata), a four-armed deity sitting on a horse and an artistic deity with 12 faces and many hands, each holding interesting objects. 
 
+ Patuxai Victory Monument
 
With its crenellated upper level topped with five ornate towers in the traditional Laos style, the Patuxai Victory Monument cuts a distinctive figure on the Vientiane skyline. It forms the centre piece of Patuxai Park, and is dedicated to the Laos who were killed in the fight to gain independence from France, as well as from the nation’s earlier occupiers, Siam and Japan. 
 
+ Houey Hong Vocational Training Centre for Women
 
Houey Hong Vocational Training Centre for Women was established originally to provide training in the art of weaving for Lao women from poor backgrounds. Over time, with funding from international non-governmental organizations, the training centre has expanded its scope to include minority ethnic groups and disabled folk.

The Centre was founded by Japanese-educated Chanthasone Inthavong in 1998, and offers short courses in weaving, dyeing, sewing and small business administration. 
 
Together with the job placement programme, it hopes to help generate income for people from disadvantaged backgrounds. Situated seven km from Vientiane city centre in a Houey Hong Village, Chanthabury District, the centre is surrounded by a pleasant garden. 
 
+ Wat Si Muang
 
Wat Si Muang is one of Vientiane’s most popular sites of worship, and offers a fascinating insight into how old animist beliefs have blended seamlessly with Theravada Buddhism. According to local legend, when the temple was being built in 1563 a young pregnant woman named Si Muang volunteered to sacrifice herself to appease the angry spirits. 
 
During the That Luang Festival every October or November, this temple is one of the focal points of the celebrations, and Si Muang is fêted as a guardian of the city. On a daily basis, Wat Si Muang attracts crowds of local Buddhists who want to benefit from its ‘good luck’ powers. 
 
Vientiane Travel Tips
Drinking
 
Vientiane has a few clubs, but the music is generally very bad and very loud. You best bet is to have a few Beer Lao outside somewhere overlooking the Mekong. Don’t drink the tap water.
 
Eating
 
Vientiane has food options in every price range and offers every type of international cuisine. Street food and small local restaurants are your best bets if you’re looking to save some money. A bowl of noodle soup, for example, will usually cost under $1.
 
Vientiane is a fairly safe city, but bag snatchings have been on the rise. Take care of your belongings when sitting outdoors and don’t keep anything valuable in the baskets of rented bikes.
 
Dogs can be a big problem. Don’t walk through dark alleys at night and keep your distance from any dogs you see. If you are bitten, you’ll probably want a rabies shot.
 
Dengue fever is prevalent in Vientiane, especially during the wet season. Take precautions against mosquitoes. The ones carrying Dengue are active during the daytime.
 
If flying from Thailand, consider flying into Udon Thani and crossing the border by bus; as a domestic flight, this will be considerably cheaper than the international flight into Vientiane. Take public transport from the main road outside the airport (see arriving section above).

Avoid tuk tuks and taxis and take shared jumbos or rent a bicycle instead eat local food at street stalls or small restaurants; avoid western food if possible never accept the first price on anything, bargaining is expected; that said, the prices quoted as inflated as neighboring Thailand, so there’s no need to bargain quite as aggressively in most area of Laos and Laos travel guide will give you a through and observation about Laos trip
  • LUANG PRABANG AND VIENTIANE TOURS WITHIN 4 DAYS
    4 days 3 nights Luang Prang and Vientiane package tour gives a chance to visit the evident history and heritage of the old French town, such as aquamarine waterfalls, top trekking opportunities, meandering mountain bike trails, kayaking trips, river cruises and outstanding natural beauty.
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