Top 3 sights in Vientiane, Laos: Patuxai, Pha That Luang, That Dam

Vientiane, one of the smallest capital cities of ASEAN. But what it lacks in size it more than makes up for in character. Set on the banks of the mighty Mekong river, it’s the perfect place to recharge the batteries before or after embarking on that overland journey through Laos. Here are 3 sights one should not miss when visiting this uber-chill capital of Laos

Patuxai

Patuxai

Vientiane’s ‘Arc de Triomphe’ replica is a slightly incongruous sight, dominating the central commercial district. Officially called ‘Victory Monument’ and commemorating the Lao who died in pre-revolutionary wars, it was built in 1969 with cement donated by the USA intended for the construction of a new airport. Climb to the summit for panoramic views over Vientiane. The surrounding park also makes for good strolling during evening times, when the heat is more bearable and locals can be seen relaxing in the area

Admission and Opening Times

3000Kip (US$0.40). Open 8am-5pm

Pha That Luang

Pha That Luang

Svelte Pha That Luang is the most important national monument in Laos, and a symbol of Buddhist religion and Lao sovereignty. Legend has it that Ashokan missionaries from India erected a tâht (stupa) here to enclose a piece of Buddha’s breastbone as early as the 3rd century BC. Pha That Luang is about 4km northeast of the city center and can be easily visited by taking tuk-tuk or even leisurely cycling from central Vientiane

Admission and Opening Times

5000Kip (US$0.60), rental of long skirt to enter temple 5000Kip. Open 8am-noon & 1-4pm (Tue-Sun)

That Dam

That Dam

That Dam sits on a quiet roundabout near the center of Vientiane. Legend has it that this stupa was once coated in a layer of gold. The gold is said to have been carted off by the Siamese during their pillaging of 1828, after which the stupa took the ‘black’ sobriquet in memory of the dastardly act. Another myth says That Dam is the abode of a dormant seven-headed dragon that came to life during the 1828 Siamese-Lao war and protected local citizens. Which ever story you choose to believe is entirely up to you, but this atmospheric stupa is definitely worth checking out when you are in Vientiane

Admission and Opening Times

No admission charge. Open at all times

* Visited Feb 2016

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