Vientiane is the largest city of Laos as well as its commercial and administrative capital. Spreading lightly on the banks of the Mekong River, this Laotian city is visited for its beautiful architecture and its refreshingly laidback attitude. Nothing is ever fast in Laos, not even in its fastest city. While Laotian villages complain that Vientiane is too fast for their liking, tourists often say that it never moves fast. Sandwiched between these two contrasting elements, the Laotian capital never gets disheartened. Time may have left its impression on the city, but the capital never really stopped right at it. The city changed hands multiple times since its formation in the 12th century till it fell into the hands of the French in 1893. The French repaired whatever damage the previous rulers had done to the temples and built several buildings in their colonial style. One can see the French influence in Vientiane to this day. Laos attained its democratic freedom in 1975. After that, Vientiane became the official capital of the country and that changed the city’s fortune. The French had already worked for conserving the natural history in the city and the new Pathet Lao government helped to increase tourism to Laos. Despite the modernity and commercial tourism in the neighbouring Thailand, Laos is relatively virgin. Even in Vientiane you will see the traditional form of life visible in the interiors of the country. If you wander around the streets of this city, you are likely to see rice and vegetable fields hidden by tree-lined pathways right in the town centre. Modernity has not changed the face of the city completely, it has learned to reside alongside the traditional values. This could very well be one of the reasons why it has suddenly become a very popular tourist destination. The sticky wetness of rice fields is perfectly contrasted by the small of baking baguette and freshly-brewed coffee, all of which are an integral part of Laotian culture. A trip in Vientiane shows how harmoniously the colonial influences have blended with local customs.
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