Vientiane is the main city of Laos and is definitely a nice and quite place on the Mekong ‘s banks. I loved Vientiane, somehow it reminds me Phnom Penh but without that misery.
It was remarkable to spend the evening walking along the river or just drink a beer looking the marvelous sunset feeling the magic of a timeless place.
It is easy to find good food, cheap accommodations and nice temples to be visited. The culture of the ”Lanna” kingdom is all around you. The name of the city is derived from Pali, the liturgical language of Theravada Buddhism.
Its original meaning is “royal sandalwood grove” or “city of sandalwood”, this tree being highly valued in classical India for its fragrance. In modern Lao, the meaning of Vientiane is ambiguous, and is often mistakenly believed to mean “city of the moon”, because the words for ‘moon’ and ‘sandalwood’ are written and pronounced identically.
Vientiane was an early Khmer settlement centered around a Hindu temple, which the Pha That Luang would later replace.
In the 11th and 12th centuries, the time when the Lao and Thai people are believed to have entered Southeast Asia from Southern China, the few remaining Khmers in the area were either killed, removed, or assimilated into the Lao civilization, which would soon overtake the area.
In A.D. 1354, when Fa Ngum founded the kingdom of Lan Xang, Vientiane became an important administrative city, even though it was not made the capital. 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.
When King Anouvong raised an unsuccessful rebellion, it was obliterated by Siamese armies in 1827.
The city was burned to the ground and was looted of nearly all Laotian artifacts including Buddha statues and people. Vientiane in great disrepair when the French arrived, arrived to only find a depopulated region with even the great city of Vientiane disappearing into the forest. Vientiane passed to French rule in 1893.
It became the capital of the French protectorate of Laos in 1899. The French rebuilt the city and rebuilt or repaired Buddhist temples such as Pha That Luang, Haw Phra Kaew, and left many colonial buildings behind.
Today 200,000 people are living in Vientiane.
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