Vientiane City Tour and Buddha ParkReference WW40682
Be cast under the spell of Vientiane, Laos’ serene capital, with an in-depth tour of the city. Although not as alluring as the Luang Prabang, Vientiane has a quirky charm that is revealed in today’s excursion.
Begin at one of the city’s oldest temples: the serene Wat Sisaket. Having withstood the invasion of the Thai’s in the 1800s, the temple houses a remarkable set of more than one thousand Buddha statues tucked into niches in the walkways. The nearby Wat Phra Keo is equally impressive with its Lao and Khmer art and sculptures. After a quick glance at the former French palace, pop in to COPE. COPE works with Lao residents who have been disabled by landmines laid during the American-Vietnam war. The visit is a solemn reminder of the recent tragedies in the region yet with a positive note as progress is being made to improve the lives of those affected.
Continue on to Patuxay, another relic of the Lao colonial rule. The ‘Arc de Triomphe’ of Laos seems out of place at first but when climbing to the top the views are fantastic. Then step further back in time with a visit to That Luang, the city’s holiest temple. Built in the 16th century, the gilded stupa is an icon of Laos and an important pilgrimage site for its residents.
Having examined the historical side of Laos, the afternoon focuses more on the country’s culture and people. Enjoy lunch at a training centre where disadvantaged youth are given the skills training needed to create delicious Lao dishes. Then venture just outside of Vientiane to Buddha Park, a collection of unusual, quirky religious sculptures located near the Thai-Laos friendship bridge. Also known as Xieng Khuang, this unusual park is filled with more than 200 modern Buddhist and Hindu statues placed amid a tranquil, natural setting.
Returning to the city, stop to visit the Lao Disabled Women Development Center. People with disabilities are generally looked down upon in Laos but this centre aims to change that point of view. The women are proud to show you their skills, using age-old techniques to create amazing traditional crafts such as handmade paper and other items.
The day comes to a close along the banks of the Mekong River. Mingle with the locals as the sun sets, enjoying snacks and cold drinks from the various stalls that pop up in the evening hours. (L)