Vientiane, the capital city of the Lao PDR, with a population of 503,000 and an area of 180 square kilometers, is located on the bank of the Mekong River. Vientiane is the center of culture, commerce and administration in Laos. Vientiane's major attractions are its serene Buddhist monasteries which dominate the streets of central Vientiane. Highlights: That Luang, Patousai or Arch of Triumph, Vat Phra Keo and Vat Sisaket.
Luang Prabang is the ancient capital city of the Lane Xang Kingdom. According to the Luang Prabang legend, the first name of Luang Prabang was Muang Swa, named after King Khun Xua around the eighth century, and later came to be known as Xieng Dong and Xieng Thong. During the reign of King Fa Ngum, between 1354 and 1372 A.D., Xieng Dong, and Xieng Thong cities were renamed Luang Prabang in the name of the gold image of Buddha, the Phrabang. Luang Prabang was in 1998 declared a world heritage site by UNESCO.
The National Museum, formerly the Royal Palace. Constructed as a palace between 1904 and 1909 A.D., during the reign of King Sisavangvong, it has now been turned into a National Museum housing the Throne of the Lane Xang kingdom in its original splendor, along with many other regalia and religious treasures. It is located on the bank of the Mekong River, facing Mount Phusi.
VAT XIANG THONG
Situated on the bank of the Mekong River, on the wedge of land where the Mekong and the Nam Khan rivers meet, Vat Xiengthong was constructed in 1559/1560 A.D. by King Xayasetthathirath. Vat Xiengthong is the most beautiful among all monastries of Luang Prabang, and represents the typical Lao art style. Many old and beautiful religious artifacts dating from the sixteenth century, and some ancient masterpieces of Lao art, form a valuable part of its collected treasures.
VAT PHOU TEMPLE
Vat Phou is an ancient pre-Angkhor Vat Hindu temple, an architectural marvel, located on the eastern slope of Kao Mountain, some 45 Km, from Pakse district, and is the crowning jewel of Champassack Province. It has recently been declared a world heritage site by UNESCO.
THAM TING CAVE
The cool limestone caves are located on the steep rock cliff rising vertically from the waters, at the confluence of the Mekong and Nam Ou rivers. The craggy mountain scenery is breathtaking with overhanging cliffs above the swift flowing river. The best attractions here are the two caves full of Buddha images of varying styles, periods and sizes. The lower cave called Tham Ting, or Tham Leusi contains the statue of a hermit of Leusi. The other noteworthy cave is called Tham Theung (Upper Cave), or Tham Prakachay. The caves can be reached by a boat trip, upstream from Luang Prabang.
KHONE PHA PHENG WATERFALL
Khone Pha Pheng waterfall is about 130km from Pakse and is considered the most beautiful waterfall of Southeast Asia.
The "Pa Kha" or river dolphins inhabit this part of the Mekong River. They are nearly extinct, however, due to extensive bomb fishing. However, the dolphins are a major attraction for tourism, as they are only found in this part of Asia.