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Once the capital of Lane Xang, in the latter years of that empire's greatness, Vientiane was devastated many times by Burmese and Vietnamese invaders, before finally being levelled by the Siamese in 1828. The only original monument to remain from before that time is Wat Sisaket, built in 1818 by Chao Anou - the very king responsible for incurring the wrath of the Siamese and causing his capital's obliteration

When the French took control of the country in the late 19th century, they set about totally re-designing it with the same style as the magnificent Indochinese capitals of Saigon and Phnom Penh. The wide boulevards lend themselves nicely to monuments of a grand scale, and one such is the Patouxai war memorial. It was decided in the late fifties that Lane Xang Avenue - dubbed the Champs Elysees of Vientiane - should be crowned with its own version of the Arc de Triomphe (Patouxai is Lao for Gateway of Victory)

No account of Vientiane would be complete without mention of the Lao Revolutionary Museum, a monument to Laos' long struggle to free itself from colonization. The museum contains such relics as the photograph of Thit Chanto, who is shown baring his chest in defiance and waving above his head the rifle he used to shoot down an American fighter-bomber, which can be seen burning in the background. Though perhaps a little anachronistic in these post-Glasnost days, the museum itself is another sign of this city's sense of humour - for it is housed within the former residence of the French colonial governor

Wat Sisaket Temple

The only temple to have survived the 1828 destruction wrought upon Vientiane by the Siamese, Wat Sisaket is the oldest and one of the most interesting temples in Laos. The interior of the main hall, and the walls of the surrounding courtyard, are inset with thousands of tiny niches and shelves containing 6840 Buddha images and Buddhist inscriptions from the 18th century. A replica of Ho Trai, the main hall, was recreated to great acclaim for the 1970 World Expo in Osaka, Japan

Ho Pra Keo Museum
Built in 1565 by King Setthathirat, when he moved the capital of Lane Xang from Luang Prabang to Vientiane, the temple was originally designed to house the famous Emerald Buddha, which he had brought with him from the Kingdom of Lanna

That Luang Stupa  (Great Sacred Stupa)
The most important national monument in Vientiane and the national emblem of the country, That Luang was constructed in 1566 by King Setthathirat

Patuxay Monument

At the centre of the city, on Lane Xang Avenue, this concrete monument was constructed in 1958, allegedly with US cement intended for the city's new airport. Inspired by the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, the Patouxai (Lao for Gateway of Victory) is adorned with an array of rough hewn Lao historical imagery and offers a splendid, panoramic view of the city from its top

National Ethic Cultural Park (Suan Wattanatham Bandapao)

20km down the Mekong from Vientiane, Suan Vatthana Tham includes shady paths, sculptures of Lao literary heroes and a small zoo. It also offers views across the Mekong to Thailand and along the river to the Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge

Xieng Khouan Buddha Park
Located 24km downstream from Vientiane, this Garden of Statues enshrines sculptures of Buddha images and Hindu gods

Contact information : Lao Tourism Organization.
Address :                  Sethathirat Road, Sisaket Village, Chanthaboury District, Vientiane, Lao PDR.
Telephone :               +856 21 250791
E-mail :           
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