Pha That Luang

Top choice buddhist stupa in Vientiane
Image by Glen Allison / Getty Images

Svelte and golden Pha That Luang, located about 4km northeast of the city centre, is the most important national monument in Laos – a symbol of Buddhist religion and Lao sovereignty. Legend has it that Ashokan missionaries from India erected a tâht (stupa) here to enclose a piece of Buddha's breastbone as early as the 3rd century BC.

A high-walled cloister with tiny windows surrounds the 45m-high stupa. The cloister measures 85m on each side and contains various Buddha images, including a serene statue of Jayavarman VII, the great Angkor-era king who converted the state religion of the Khmer empire to Buddhism.