Vientiane was our final stop in Laos and it exceeded our expectations. For a capital city it was quiet and relatively sleepy but with enough sights and restaurants to keep you busy.
Vientiane had a much more local feel than Luang Prabang or Vang Vieng and this as reflected in the quality of food on offer and we well and truly indulged! The old quarter is beautiful with a distinct French colonial feel with its tree lined boulevards and riverside parks.
We spent some time walking around the old quarter and down to the river to Chao Anouvong Park – named after the last King of Laos. His statue stands proud staring across the Mekong to Thailand.
Near to where we were staying we visited That Dam, also know as the black stupa, which supposedly holds a seven headed naga. We noticed that snakes, dragons and nagas featured heavily in both Vientiane and Nong Khai (across the river / border into Thailand), we guessed this may have something to do with the weird and wonderful fish of the Mekong and the legends that they have created.
The old quarter is home to many beautiful wats and temples, despite having no where near as many as Luang Prabang!
We also wandered up to Patuxai, meaning the victory gate. This was built to celebrate independence from France but bizarrely resembles the arc de triumph in Paris.
Arguably Vientiane’s biggest tourist attraction is Xieng Khuan, more commonly known as the buddha park. The park was created by Luang Pu Bunleua Sulilat who was a ‘priest shaman’ who tried to integrate buddhism and hinduism within his sculpture parks (he created this one and one more over the Mekong in Thailand which we will be visiting soon!)
The park feels quite bizarre, such a mixture of different religions and all clustered together in one relatively small field on the banks of the Mekong. We found the park really intriguing and also loved the hour long local bus ride out to find it!
After Vientiane it was time to leave Laos and head over the Mekong to Nong Khai for our first trip into the famous Isaan region of Thailand.