Did you know Laos is a communist country? Neither did I, until I started exploring their capital city of Vientiane. The history of this country quickly unfolded, and after exploring the city for a few days I found several things you really must see while visiting the city.
Visiting the Laos National Museum
What struck me as interesting is the sheer amount of anti-American and French propaganda that litters the Laos National Museum.
With that being said, this is one of the best tourist destinations. Besides their anti-American and French sentiments, they also have on display many archaeological finds they have in this country. One of them is a jar from the mysterious “Plains of Jars”, an archaeological landscape littered with thousands of stone jars! They also have a display of machine guns that were used during the war, as well as a history of how Laos developed into the country it is today.
The entry fee to the Laos National Museum is 20,000 Kip (around $3 CAD). This includes a camera usage fee.
Pagodas in Vientiane
Don’t forget a trip to one of the many pagodas in Vientiane, when you’re finished at the museum.
“That Luang”, a 44m high golden pagoda located at city centre is one of the most popular. It is a popular spot for photographers, but for those who are keen on doing some exploring, you can actually take a trip inside. Unfortunately for me, I was unable to enter the pagoda because the Singaporean president was visiting at the time of my visit.
Other popular pagodas are:
• Wat Si Saket – one of the larger pagoda
• That Dam – a simple monument in the middle of a roundabout
Victory Gate War Monument and Presidential Palace
After you are all templed out, check out Patuxai or “Victory Gate”, a war monument commemorating those who died during the war of independence against the French.
Finally, you can visit the Lao Presidential palace which I suppose is their equivalent to the White House.
More Activities in Vientiane
Other activities you can consider in Vientiane is biking! Riding a bike around Laos is actually a really pleasant experience, because the city is really peaceful compared to its Asian neighbours. At any time, you can stop to grab a bite to eat at the local restaurants, or just enjoy a leisurely ride through different neighborhoods.
If bike riding is not for you, then go ahead and hire a tuktuk to show you around the city. I paid 80,000 Kip (about $13) to hire a tuktuk to show me around the city.
Overall, my trip to Vientiane was fascinating but I don’t see myself returning here in the near future. While it’s a beautifully peaceful country, the only other place that really interest me here is the Plain of Jars which is a long ride from Vientiane. There are also reports of it being a very uncomfortable ride so I think I will wait until the country is further developed before I return here to check out this UNESCO World Heritage Site.
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