Vientiane is mainly home to old temples and monuments and there are many high profile ones to check out. In addition, most are located in the downtown Vientiane area and can be seen on foot.
They range from the stunning, original Wat Si Saket, known for its pillars and Buddha statues, to the symbol of Laos, That Luang. It is a fine, lofty stupa that can be discerned from afar or up close.
The Patuxai Monument is reminiscent of Franco architectural brilliance, with its Arc de Triomphe lines, and can be climbed to see fine views over the town and river. Be sure to head to the Lao National Museum for a lesson on the history of the country and its capital.
Laos' national symbol is one of the main landmarks in Vientiane. It is a broad 150-foot tall stupa that originally hailed from the mid 1500s. The beautiful gold version today is not the original but is well maintained and very photogenic and visitors can get here by taxi.
Si Saket Temple is the oldest original temple in the city the only one that wasn't flattened by the marauding Siamese. It was built in 1818 and features hefty pillars supporting the large roof and also sports many thousands of Buddha statues and images. Wat Si Saket also has fantastic murals.
This Arc de Triomphe look-alike is a popular landmark that can be climbed during the day for fine views over Vientiane. It was built to mark Laotian independence and also features a small park that you can wander about on foot.
The big attraction of a visit to Ong Teu Temple is the huge bronze Buddha statue and the wonderful ambience of the place. It is located along Setthatirat Road in the center of town, so is easily visited on foot, and is a good venue for chatting to local monks.
Located on Samsenthai Road (downtown), the Lao National Museum is the country's foremost museum. It is set in a pretty colonial mansion and has many intriguing exhibits. On the first floor is the geology and archaeology section, while the second floor reveals all about the push for Lao independence.
A must-see during the That Luang Festival, Si Muang Temple, between Setthatirat and Samsenthai roads to the east of town, can also be visited on foot. It contains the city pillar, is beautifully maintained and is small enough to get around without spending all day here.