Vientiane

For a capital city Vientiane is relatively small and quiet compared to other Asian capitals, even rush hour wasn't that bad on the way from the bus station into town. After finding somewhere to stay I went down to the riverfront, with the main road closed in an evening and some open spaces it's crowed every night. There's a night market, food stalls, exercise/dance classes and lots of locals running, cycling and occasionally roller blading.

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Vientiane, Laos. 8

The capital is short on things to "see and do" but there's enough to fill two or three days depending on how many of the city's many cafes you stop in.

Pha That Luang is the most important religious monument in Laos and appears on all bank notes, though I only managed to see around the outside as it was closed when I visited (on my last day there!).

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Patuxay, or Victory Gate, is a war monument dedicated to those that fought for the independence from France. There's a good view of the city from the top and the floors on the way up are full of stalls selling the usual tourist tat. Oddly, its own information sign describes it as a "monster of concrete".

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Vientiane, Laos. 16

I also visited COPE, a prosthetics and rehabilitation charity for UXO victims and people with other disabilities. The visitors center gives information on the work being done, including getting information about prosthetics and the difference they can make out to the more rural areas.

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COPE Connect poster explaining the difference prosthetics can make.

Though not exactly a tourist destination it was also interesting to see the music shops in the small shopping mall. Most busses in Laos have the radio replaced with an MP3 player, a flash drive sticking out of the dash full of the latest Lao hits. Computers and internet aren't too common so I wasn't surprised to see shops and stalls like this.

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Music shop in Talat Sao mall.

More photos on Flickr.