Vientiane, the capital of Laos, has a population of 200000 and is one of southeast Asia's most laid-back capitals, with relatively little traffic in the streets. Vientiane has no tall buildings and exudes a special aura that combines Lao, Chinese, Thai, French, Soviet and American elements. The city is located in a fertile plain on a broad curve on the northeastern bank of the Mekong River. King Setthathirath officially established it as the capital of Lan Xang in 1560. When Lan Xang fell apart in 1707, it became an independent kingdom. In 1779, it was conquered by the Siamese general Phraya Chakri and made a vassal of Siam. Later it became the capital of Laos under the French protectorate in the late 19th century. It has continued as the capital until today.
Vientiane has changed a lot since my last visit in March 2000. There are now more cars in the streets (but still very few for a capital), and you can feel that the economy is speeding up. There is more dynamism in the streets, more activity, especially in the tourist sector. Mobile phones are now relatively widespread.

01 Main gate 02 Details of main gate 03 Pha That Luang 04 Second level
05 Main square 06 Monument of King Saya Setthathirath 07 Temple under construction 08 Pha That Luang 09 Pha That Luang
10 Pha That Luang 11 Small stupas on the second level 12 Second level and central stupa 13 Second level and central stupa 14 Gate and staircase to third level
15 Pha That Luang 16 Lotus leaves and stupas 17 Second level and central stupa 18 Gate and staircase to third level 19 Second level and stupas
20 Pha That Luang 21 Second level and central stupa 22 Central stupa 01 Ornamental stupa tombs 02 Wat Sisaket 03 Buddha statues
04 Buddha statues 05 Buddha statues 06 Buddha statues 07 Temple interior and golden Buddha statue 08 Wat Sisaket
09 Wat Sisaket fisheye view 10 Wat Sisaket 11 Ornamental wooden door 12 Inner court and coconut palms 01 Tree with pink flowers
02 Statue 03 Side view 04 Buddha statue 05 Buddha statues 06 Front view 07 Corridor and main entrance
08 Buddha statue 09 Decorated window with carvings 10 Wall bas-relief 11 Corridor and columns 12 Trees and wall 01 Wat Ong Teu
02 Wat In Peng 03 Wat Chan 04 Tombs in Wat Xieng Nyeun 05 Wat Xieng Nyeun 06 Wat Xieng Nyeun 07 Wat Xieng Nyeun
08 Naga head in Wat That Luang Neua 09 Wat That Luang Neua 10 Wat That Luang Tai gate 11 Wat That Luang Tai 01 Patuxai 02 Patuxai arch
03 Patuxai arch 04 Panorama view of Vientiane 05 Patuxai square with fountain 06 Patuxai arch in the year 2000 07 Patuxai at night
08 Patuxai arch at night 09 Patuxai arch at night 10 Patuxai top at night 01 Laotian girl 02 Laotian girls 03 Laotian couple
04 Buddhist monk 05 Buddhist monk 06 Laotian children 01 Mekong river 02 People planting rice in paddy
03 People planting rice in paddy 04 People planting rice in paddy 05 Mekong river 06 Statues in Xiengkuane Buddha park
07 Buddha head in Xiengkuane Buddha park 08 Buddha statue in Xiengkuane Buddha park 09 Xiengkuane Buddha park 10 Xiengkuane Buddha park 11 Friendship bridge over Mekong river
12 Friendship bridge over Mekong river 13 Pumping station and irrigation channel 14 Water pipes from Mekong river 15 Chinese engineers overseeing construction 16 Chinese engineers overseeing construction 01 Airport arrivals hall
02 Billboard 03 Tourist bus 04 Presidential palace 05 Morning market 06 Rickshaw
07 Rickshaw 08 Basket with dried roots 09 Dried roots and leaves 10 Noodle soup with pork 11 Lao Cultural Hall
12 Sunset and Pha That Luang gate 13 Mekong river at night 14 Restaurant tables along Mekong river at night 15 Restaurant at night 16 Ty-Na Creperie at night
17 Lao Plaza hotel at night 18 Lao Airlines plane at dawn 19 Joint Development Bank 20 ATM
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