Vientiane (Lao: ວຽງຈັນ) is the capital and largest city of Laos, on the banks of the Mekong River. It became the capital in 1563. Vientiane is noted as the home of the most significant national monument in Laos: That Luang, which is the symbol of Laos and an icon of Buddhism in Laos. Other significant Buddhist temples in Laos can be found there as well, such as Haw Phra Kaew.
Pha That Luang (Lao: ທາດຫຼວງ) is a gold-covered large Buddhist stupa in the centre Vientiane. It was said to be originally built as a Hindu temple as early as the 1st century, according to local people. It was destroyed multiple times in history. It was reconstructed after the end of the World War II. It is generally regarded as the most important national monument in Laos and a national symbol.
Patuxai (Lao: ປະຕູໄຊ, literally meaning Victory Gate or Gate of Triumph) is a war monument in the centre of Vientiane, which was built between 1957 and 1968. The Patuxai is dedicated to those who fought in the struggle for independence from France. The monument has five towers that represent the five principles of coexistence among nations of the world. They are also representative of the five Buddhist principles of “thoughtful amiability, flexibility, honesty, honor and prosperity”.
The Lao National Museum was founded as the national museum highlighting the revolution of the 1970s and is located in a French colonial building. The museum, which was originally built in 1925 as the French governor’s residence, presents the history of Laos, highlighting the Laotian people’s struggle to free the country from foreign occupiers and imperialist forces.
Wat Si Saket is a Buddhist wat. It was originally built in 1818 on the order of King Anouvong. The French colonial government restored the temple in 1924 and again in 1930. It features a cloister wall with more than 2,000 ceramic and silver Buddha images. The temple also houses a museum.
Haw Phra Kaew (Lao: ຫໍພະແກ້ວ), also written as Ho Prakeo, Hor Pha Keo and other similar spellings, is a former temple in Vientiane. It is located to the southeast of Wat Si Saket. It was first built in 1565 to house the Emerald Buddha, but had been several rebuilt a few times. The interior now houses a museum of religious art and a small shop.
Talat Sao (Lao: ຕະຫຼາດເຊົ້າ) is a morning market open daily from 7AM until around 4PM. The market is a popular tourist destination. It consists of many small shops, restaurants, fruit and vegetable vendors, jewellery, silk, wooden crafts, etc.
Buddha Park, also known as Xieng Khuan, is a sculpture park located 25 km southeast from Vientiane by the Mekong River. Although it is not a temple (Wat), the park may be referred to as Wat Xieng Khuan (Lao: ວັດຊຽງຄວນ), since it contains numerous religious images. The name Xieng Khuan means Spirit City. The park contains over 200 Hindu and Buddhist statues.
Anouvong succeeded to the throne in 1805 and led the Lao rebellion (1826–28) as the last monarch of the Kingdom of Vientiane. In 2010, to coincide with the 450th Anniversary celebrations of Vientiane, the Laos government created Chao Anouvong Park, complete with a large bronze statue of the locally revered ruler.