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Garden of the Buddhas - near Vientiane

Vientiane

Vientiane was born as Vieng Chan -- which means "City of the Moon" -- in 1563. Situated on the banks of the Mekong, it is a sleepy capital with few large buildings and practically no traffic. Vientiane was reconstructed by the French at the end of the 18th century with broad tree-lined boulevards, elegant colonial mansions and even a Lao version of the Arc de Triomphe.

Wat Phra Keo was built in 1563 to house the Emerald Buddha which was taken by the Thais to Bangkok. It now contains a superb collection of Khymer and Lao art. Wat Sisaket, across the road, is the oldest wat complex in Vientiane and contains more than 2 thousand Buddha statues. Behind it is a neighborhood of beautifully preserved colonial houses.

That Luang rests atop a hill just northeast of the city. The stupa reflects a mixture of styles, Khymer, Indian and Lao and is surrounded by 30 smaller stupas representing the 30 Buddhist perfections.

East of the capital near the Mekong and the Thai border lies Xieng Khonane, the Garden of the Buddhas. It is not actually a temple but a park filled with concrete statues built in the 1950s by a Luang Pu, a priest who combined Buddhist and Hindu philosophies.

Expats often end the day gazing across the Mekong from a place called The Sunset Bar.


Jewels of the Mekong
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