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Vientiane City Orientation Walk, Vientiane
Vientiane City Orientation Walk
Guide Location: Laos » Vientiane
Guide Type: Self-guided city tour
# of Attractions: 12
Tour Duration: 4 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 7.5 km
Image Courtesy of Flickr and sweet_redbird
Author: sabrina
This self-guided walking tour is included in the iOS app "City Maps and Walks (470+ Cities)" in iTunes and the Android app "Vientiane Map and Walks" in Google Play.
The capital of Laos, Vientiane, is a lovely city, the history of which is reflected in its old temples, each with its own legend, memorial monuments, garden squares and colonial buildings. Vienetiane is in the heart of the Buddhist world. This has ensured the presence of numerous Buddhist temples and shrines that compose the bulk of the city’s landmarks. Take this self-guided tour to visit the city’s most popular attractions.
Tour Stops and Attractions
Wat Chanthaburi
1) Wat Chanthaburi
Wat Chanthaburi or Wat Chan is a magnificent Buddhist temple built in the middle of the 16th century. It was destroyed during the Siam invasion of 1928, but has since undergone numerous restorations. The temple is highly rated because of its elaborate decorative features such as carved wood designs, as well as for the well-known huge seated Buddha sculpture made of bronze in the 16th century. The image is said to have survived numerous calamities.
Image Courtesy of Flickr and waywuwei
Wat Inpeng
2) Wat Inpeng
Wat Inpeng Voraamahavihanh or “Temple of the Incarnation of Indra” is another symbol of the city and a prominent religious landmark. According to legend, it was founded in the 3rd century, when Indra arrived to the area to aid local artists in creating the image of Buddha. However, historical records confirm that the construction of the temple occurred in the 16th century. The main highlight of the temple is its rich decorations with carved wood frescoes and a mosaic façade. Statues and numerous images depicting mythological creatures, colourful and intricate windows, and ornate multilevel roofs continue to catch tourists’ eyes and leave memorable impressions. There is a tranquil garden area with benches and topiary trees settled at the rear of the temple.
Image Courtesy of Flickr and Gusjer
Wat Ong Teu
3) Wat Ong Teu
Wat Ong Teu Mahawihan (Temple of the Heavy Buddha) is one of many Buddhist Monasteries that are present in the city of Vientiane. This name is given to the temple due to the large, bronze Phra Ong Teu Buddha image that is present within the temple: the largest Buddha in Vientiane.

This temple was initially constructed by King Settathirat I in the 16th century (known as the golden age of Buddhism in Laos) when Laos was being bombarded by the Burmese, but was later demolished during a foreign invasion. Thus, it may have gone through many reconstructions during the 19th or 20th century to attain the appearance it has today.

Though this temple is created in Vientiane, it has the basic shape for what is known as the ‘Luang Prabang I style’ with its scare use of brickwork and rectangular-like body.

Wat Ong Teu is said to have been placed along a cardinal point in accordance with three other temples, but that may just be coincidental.

Opening hours: Monday – Sunday: 8 am – 5 pm

"(The above description is based on Wikipedia under Creative Common License)"
Image Courtesy of Wikimedia and Mr ATM
Sight description based on wikipedia
Wat Mixai
4) Wat Mixai
Wat Mixai is another beautiful temple known for its ornate blue mosaic designs. Niak, or a giant guardian, stands on both sides of the beautiful gate welcoming the visitors. The colourful façade of the temple is decorated with gold coated wooden carvings designed in the finest traditions of Laotian architectural splendour. The temple’s main highlight is a series of old Chinese funeral stupas found along the sim or main hall. It is open daily from 9 am to 5 pm. The entrance to the temple is on Francois Ngin Road.
Image Courtesy of Flickr and Olivier Simon
Nam Phou Square
5) Nam Phou Square
Nam Phou Square is the city’s meeting place, hub and popular tourist spot. Decorated with floral arrangements, Nam Phou has been the icon of Vientiane for many years. There are numerous cafes and restaurants surrounding the square which is crowned by a beautiful fountain. It is a great place for a morning coffee or an evening walk. Tuk tuk drivers gather here in numbers, making the square a good place to start your tour of the city.
Image Courtesy of Flickr and Kristina Katich
That Dam
6) That Dam
That Dam, known as ‘Black Stupa’, is a large ancient landmark situated in the heart of the city. The legend that has been feeding the imagination of locals for years says it was once coated with gold that was carted off after the Siam invasion. This mythological structure is also said to have been protected by seven Naga creatures who managed to withstand the armies of Siam despite giving up the gold. Today Laos’ oldest temple is crumbling and growing with moss and weed, which somehow adds to its splendor.
Image Courtesy of Wikimedia and Alex Valavanis
Presidential Palace
7) Presidential Palace
Situated on Lane Xang Street, Presidential Palace was originally built for the French colonial governor. It has also served as the residence of the royal family during the brief Laos monarchy reign. Today, the two-storey Beaux Arts mansion is mainly used for official government meetings and ceremonies. Presidential Palace’s important historical significance and elegant façade insured its place among the top landmarks of the city.
Image Courtesy of Flickr and Californian Em
Wat Si Muang
8) Wat Si Muang
Founded in 1566, Wat Si Muang, also known as Simuong, is another lovely Buddhist temple that is popular among both locals and visitors for its stunning bronze Buddha statues. The temple is famous for bringing good luck and wealth, particularly to those trying to have children. Wat Si Muang’s relatively modest construction is complemented beautifully by the elaborate wooden carvings and paintings. The temple is surrounded by ornate gates. Tourists willing to check out the altar and the rest of the temple’s interior are advised to purchase flowers, incense sticks and candles from outside vendors to be used later at the altar. The entrance is from Setthathirath Road. Near the temple, the statue of King Srisavang Vong (1885-1959) is located; he is known to have fathered 50 children.
Image Courtesy of Wikimedia and Ondřej Žváček
Sacre Coeur Catholic Church
9) Sacre Coeur Catholic Church
Sacre Coeur Catholic Church is the largest church in Vientiane. Located at Mission Street (Rue de la Mission), it represents a colonial Romanesque, rather simplistic structure, built in 1928 and recently renovated, in 2005. The church belongs to the Vicariate Apostolic of Vientiane.
Image Courtesy of Wikimedia and Torbenbrinker
10) Patuxai
Patuxai literally meaning Victory Gate or Gate of Triumph, formerly the Anousavary or Anosavari Monument known by the French as Monument Aux Morts) is a war monument in the centre of Vientiane, which was built between 1957 and 1968. Patuxai is dedicated to those who fought in the struggle for independence from France.

In romanising the name from the Laotian language, it is variously transliterated as Patuxai, Patuxay, Patousai and Patusai. It is also given the name of Patuxai Arch or the Asian version of Arc de Triomphe of Vientiane as it has general resemblance to the Arc de Triomphe in Paris; however, it is typically Laotian in design, decorated with many Buddhist mythological figurines such as of kinnari (half-female, half-bird figures).

"(The above description is based on Wikipedia under Creative Common License)"
Image Courtesy of Wikimedia and Ondřej Žváček
Sight description based on wikipedia
Pha That Luang
11) Pha That Luang
Pha That Luang is a gold-covered large Buddhist stupa in the centre of Vientiane. Since its initial establishment suggested to be in the 3rd century, the stupa has undergone several reconstructions until the 1930s due to foreign invasions to the area. It is generally regarded as the most important national monument in Laos and a national symbol.

The architecture of the building includes many references to Lao culture and identity, and so has become a symbol of Lao nationalism. The stupa today consists of three levels, each conveying a reflection of part of the Buddhist doctrine. The first level is 223 feet by 226 feet, the second is 157 feet along each side and the third level is 98 feet along each side. From ground to pinniacle, Pha That Luang is 147.6 feet high.

The area around Pha That Luang is now gated, to keep traffic out. Previously visitors could drive around the whole complex. The encircling walls are roughly 279 feet long on each side and contain a large number of Lao and Khmer sculptures including one of Jayavarman VII.

Opening hours: Tuesday – Sunday: 8 am – 12 pm & 1 pm – 4 pm

"(The above description is based on Wikipedia under Creative Common License)"
Image Courtesy of Wikimedia and Aaron Smith
Sight description based on wikipedia
Lao Army Museum
12) Lao Army Museum
Lao Army Museum is located near the Ministry of Defence compound. The entrance is decorated with sculptures depicting workers’ revolutionary struggle. Opened in 1976, the museum showcases a wide collection of artefacts and photographs about the Lao People's Army, starting from the 1950s, when the National Revolutionary Movement started, and describes its historical achievements. Outside the museum, some massive army machines are exposed, including a tank. Opening hours: 8 am – 11 am, 2 pm – 4 pm, closed on weekends.
Image Courtesy of Flickr and Chaoborus
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