The skies had opened up when I woke up this morning. Probably the best time it could have rained though because we had a 4 hour bus journey to the capital city of Laos – Vientiane.
Luckily by the time we arrived in the city, the skies had cleared. After dropping off our stuff at the hotel, we opted to go see the sights around the city. I loved how all the buildings were relatively low. I don’t think there was a sky scraper in sight!!
We started at Wat Si Saket, which is the oldest standing temple in Vientiane. Because the temple is styled similar to the architecture in Bangkok, Wat Si Saket was the only thing salvaged when Siamese burned the city to the ground in 1828. All throughout the temple, there are little Buddha idols built into the walls.
Across the street from the temple is the Hophakew Museum, which was the former royal temple. TBT to Bangkok when we saw the Emerald Buddha (which is actually made of jade) because this temple used to house the emerald Buddha before it was taken by the Thai! CRAZY!! However it is now a museum because the entire complex needed to be rebuilt.
After a short tuk tuk ride, we saw Pha That Luang. Pha That Luang is the national symbol and the most important religious monument in Laos. It was neat to see in person for numerous reasons, but it’s also an image that is printed on Lao money, the kip (which is funny to me because kip in Dutch means chicken #cultured).
My favorite stop of the day was the Victory Gate (Patuxai), which is local interpretation of Paris’s Arc de Triomphe. It was built after Laos gained its independence from France in 1953. The main differences between Patuxai and the Arc de Triomphe are that Patuxai has two gates instead of four and is just a bit higher than the Arc de Triomphe. As you can see from the photos, Patuxai also has a bit more of an Asian flair in its architecture. I found it hysterical that it’s nickname is the “vertical runway.” The concrete used to build the arc was donated by the US to build an airport. Instead, Laos used the concrete to pay homage (flaunt their independence? 🤔) to the French. If you’re in Vientiane, I’d recommend climbing to the top to see the view. We were absolutely melting this day, so opted to enjoy Patuxai from the ground rather than climbing up the hundreds of steps.
That night we all went out to dinner and got hot pots! I’ve never experienced hot pots again, but it was definitely a fun experience. I can’t believe this was my last day in Laos!! I will always remember how welcoming the Lao people and culture are. Even from just the short amount of time I spent here, Laos earned a special place in my heart. If you ever have the chance to visit this awe-inspiring nation, do not pass it up! I can confidently say that Laos is easily one of my favorite countries I have traveled to thus far!