The wide boulevards of Vientiane lead to historical temples and Buddhist monks trail robes of burnt sage. Temples glitter amongst the emerald hues of the canopy. Dragon statues shimmering with gilded exteriors lunge out of temple doorways. The scent of frangipani and tamarind blend with the aroma of fresh pastries drifting out of the French cafes. Your flight lands at Wattay International Airport, where your private transfer greets you upon your arrival. Entering into the heart of the historic center, you pass antique French villas dating back to the colonial days and waters of the Mekong River rushing against the edges of the city.
You take a moment to settle into the comforts of your hotel, situated inside a renovated French villa that offers the charms of the city’s past, accentuated with contemporary luxuries. Your guide greets you in the lobby, eager to introduce you to the Laotian capital on a walking tour around Pha That Luang, the most important monument in the country. The golden stupa represents Laos’s sovereignty, along with the embodying of a grand symbol of the Buddhist religion. The aroma of blossoming frangipani blends with the scent of incense.
The golden exterior of the shrine flickers in the passing sunlight. Your guide explains the legend surrounding the complex, which states that missionaries from India erected the stupa in the 3rd century to enclose a piece of Buddha’s breastbone. The shrine reaches a height of nearly 150 feet with a cloister measuring more than 275 feet. Images of Buddha adorn the walls. Your guide points to the statue of Jayavarman VII, the king who converted the Khmer empire to Buddhism during the era of Angkor.