Apart from laid-back, there is no denying that “golden” is the next best word use to describe Vientiane. With abundance presence of gold-decorated wat(temple) and golden Buddha statues of varying sizes and poses, gold is more than just a color but a rich symbolism defining the very best of Vientiane.
Let me show you why.
The present three-layered gilded stupa is a renovated effort after numerous destruction resulted from the previous wars, nonetheless it is magnificent in every angle particularly on a mid afternoon when further highlighted by sun rays and best admire as close as possible.
Apart from the golden stupa itself, there are a lot of treasured Lao and Khmer statues displayed within the courtyard like the statue of King Jayavarman VII of the Khmer Empire and the one located outside Pha That Luang, the statue of King Setthathirat, the man responsible for making Vientiane the capital city and for the construction of the stupa itself.
It was said that there used to be four temples surrounding Pha That Luang, but today only two remains- Wat That Luang Neua on the northern side and Wat That Luang Tai at the southern end.
Wat That Luang Tai is a compound of numerous Buddha statues and where the giant golden sleeping Buddha can be found while Wat That Luang Neua is easily distinguished by the standing Buddha in front of the temple.
Built between 1957 and 1968, Patuxai is a war memorial built to remember those who lost their lives during the country struggle for independence from France. Though nowadays, Patuxai is a popular spot to either seek temporary refuge from the afternoon heat and a popular leisure ground for locals.
Further down Avenue Lan Xang, on the corner of Setthathirat road is Wat Si Saket, said to be Vientiane oldest surviving temple. The architecture of Wat Si Saket is more of Bangkok style than Laos. The high hallways are decorated with Buddha made of stone and wood, of varying ear sizes and hand poses.
Apart from everything “golden” when it comes to the temples, the presence of orange robed monks on the streets and the simplicity of city living is what gives Vientiane an undeniable captivating combination. It is hard to describe this capital city without using two contradictory words of laid-back and grand in one sentence.