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Vientiane Views: Snapshots of a Laos Capital

Vientiane. The capital of Laos faces neighboring Thailand through shimmering heat waves across a wide flood plain and muddy waters of the Mekong river. Golden stupas, reclining buddhas and vibrant temples contrast against remnants of French rule: rambling colonial mansions and Arc de Triomphe style victory gate.

My first visit to Vientiane, while living in Nakhon Sawan in Central Thailand, saw my friend Sophie and I wading along flooded, potholed streets during rainy season. I have vague memories of wandering in a small town. Not a capital city!

Now, 14 years on in the swelter and dust of the dry season, traffic scurries along streets rimmed with a frosty air-con oasis of modern cafés, restaurants and hotels linking the plethora of Laotian Buddhist temples while condo developments sprout up along the riverside. A city in progress but it still feels relaxed and exotic.

Wat Inpeng, Vientiane, Laos

Wat Inpeng

Wat Inpeng, Vientiane, Laos

Wat Inpeng

Wat Haysoke, Vientiane, Laos

Wat Haysoke

Patuxay Victory Gate & Patuxay Park, Vientiane, Laos

Patuxay Victory Gate & Patuxay Park

Ceiling inside Patuxay Victory Gate, Vientiane, Laos

Ceiling inside Patuxay Victory Gate

View from top of Patuxay Victory Gate, Vientiane, Laos

View from top of Patuxay Victory Gate

View from top of Patuxay Victory Gate, Vientiane, Laos

View from top of Patuxay Victory Gate

Patuxay Park, Vientiane, Laos

Patuxay Park

For visitors tuk tuks or bicycles are the way to get around and see the sights. After a few days of exhausting footwork and motorized laziness I rented a bicycle and peddled around Vientiane visiting temples and museums.

Tuk tuks opposite Patuxay Park, Vientiane, Laos

Tuk tuks opposite Patuxay Park

Phra That Luang, Vientiane, Laos

Phra That Luang

Wat That Luang, Vientiane, Laos

Wat That Luang

Wat That Luang Neua, Vientiane, Laos

Wat That Luang Neua

Wat That Luang Tai, Vientiane, Laos

Wat That Luang Tai

Wat That Luang Tai, Vientiane, Laos

Wat That Luang Tai

Wat That Luang Neua, Vientiane, Laos

Wat That Luang Neua

Sunset fishing in the Mekong River, Vientiane, Laos

Sunset fishing in the Mekong River

Sunset fishing in the Mekong River, Vientiane, Laos

Sunset fishing in the Mekong River

Sunset fishing in the Mekong River, Vientiane, Laos

Sunset fishing in the Mekong River

Sunset lit derelict buildings along the Mekong riverbank, Vientiane, Laos

Sunset lit derelict buildings along the Mekong riverbank

Chilling out during the heat of the day in cafés, reviving on French baguette and iced coffee I’d venture out to photograph again during the late afternoon glow. Around sunset, relishing in the slightly less steamy air, I joined other cyclists, walkers, joggers and skate boarders along Vientiane’s riverside.

Leisure time at sunset along the Mekong riverbank, Vientiane, Laos

Leisure time at sunset along the Mekong riverbank

Presidential Palace, Vientiane, Laos

Presidential Palace

Wat Sisaket, Vientiane, Laos

Wat Sisaket

Tomb offerings, Wat Sisaket, Vientiane, Laos

Tomb offerings, Wat Sisaket

Wat Sisaket, Vientiane, Laos

Wat Sisaket

Derelict house, Vientiane, Laos

Derelict house

Derelict house, Vientiane, Laos

Derelict house

Wat Ho Phra Keo, Vientiane, Laos

Wat Ho Phra Keo

Offerings at That Dam, Vientiane, Laos

Offerings at That Dam

Tombs at Wat Sisavat, Vientiane, Laos

Tombs at Wat Sisavat

Wat Sidamduan, Vientiane, laos

Wat Sidamduan

Monks' robes drying in the sun among tombs, Wat Sidamduan, Vientiane, laos

Monks’ robes drying in the sun among tombs, Wat Sidamduan

Wat Sidamduan, Vientiane, laos

Wat Sidamduan

Temple gateway, Wat Sidamduan, Vientiane, laos

Temple gateway, Wat Sidamduan

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8 responses

  1. Miguel

    Wow!! Me gustan estas fotos.

    April 7, 2013 at 7:54 pm

  2. Wow Lucy it looks absolutely gorgeous! Love the pics of the monks robes and the rundown houses. I’d love to visit Laos someday! 🙂

    April 7, 2013 at 8:29 pm

    • I know you’d love it Nicole!! Come to Thailand too!!! 🙂

      April 7, 2013 at 8:34 pm

  3. So beautiful Lucy, I m jealous 😀 I wish I could have been there too 🙂 *sigh*

    April 8, 2013 at 12:31 am

    • Thanks Wolke! It is beautiful but very hot and dry this time of year. Great for photos though! It’s fascinating to visit if you ever get a chance.

      April 8, 2013 at 9:54 am

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