spelled VIANGCHAN, the largest city and capital of Laos, situated
on a plain just northeastern part of the Mekong River. The city's central
river port location in a country relying heavily on its rivers for
transportation and its surrounding hinterland of intensive rice
cultivation, have made Vientiane the main economic centre
The city has a tropical monsoon climate, with an average
daytime temperature of more than 27oC every month and more than 80% of Vientiane's
yearly precipitation on the average falling in the 5 months May to September.
The peaceful capital city and seat of government
is set along the curve of Mekong River on the fecund flatland. Despite its chequered
past, Vientiane (pronounced 'Wieng Chan' by the locals and its neighbours) is a relaxing
city with a variety of attractive wats (temples) and lively markets.
national monument in Laos is Pha That Luang
(the Great Sacred Stupa),
that signifies Buddhist and Lao union. The dome like Stupa and 4-cornered
superstructure is the model for similar monuments throughout Laos.
Stupas serve to commemorate the life of the Buddha and many Stupas
are said to house sacred relics (parts of Buddha's body). Generally,
Hinayana Buddhists cremate the dead body then collected the bone
and put in stupa which up in a round the temple.
Different styles of architecture are evident in the Buddhist
Wats. Three architecture styles can be distinguished, corresponding
to the geographical location of the temples and monasteries. Wats
built in Vientiane are large rectangular structures constructed
of brick and coved with stucco and high-peaked roofs.
Other significant attractions include
Wat Pha Kaew, a former royal
temple which is presently a museum; Wat Si Saket, one of
the capital's oldest temples; and the Morning Market, a wide range of stalls which open from 6.00 am to 6.00 pm. Wat Xieng Khuan (Buddha Park), situated 24 kilometres (15 miles) south of the city,
display a selection of
Buddhist and Hindu sculptures.
There are quite a few top-end hotels and many guesthouses in this capital city; most of them
are fairly high priced, but a collection of cheaper accommodation has become
available in the last few years. Most of them are located in
the heart of Vientiane. Places for eating include cafes, street stalls, beer halls
and restaurants which provide everything from rice noodles to filet mignon.
Guests can also try good Lao meals available at the Dong Palan Night Market on the
east bank of the Nong Chan ponds.
Vientiane is not
the illegal amusement palace like it was in the early 1970s: brothels or prostitutes
are currently prohibited, the marijuana stands have removed from the
markets and opium has been replaced with beer as the nightly drug of choice.
Entertainment includes live music and discos, mostly electrified Lao folk music or Western pop to Thai, Chinese,
Laos and even Bulgarian films. Tribal crafts, fabrics, jewellery
and furniture are all good purchases in Vientiane.