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Vientiane

Vientiane is the smallest capital in the world, but what it lacks in size it makes up for in charm. Situated on the Mekong River in the Mekong Valley, this Laotian city has a sub-tropical climate and enjoys life at a relaxed pace.

Vientiane has a mixed heritage still evident in its architecture, its street names, and in its food. French restaurants can be found up and down Avenue Lane Xang. The city is best appreciated by the Mekong, where open-air restaurants serve fresh seafood and Beer Laos well into the evening.

For shopping, most locals and visitors head to Talat Sao – the morning market. Silk and clothing, religious trinkets, DVDs, electronics, and handicrafts are also on offer, and the entire complex is air conditioned, making for one of the more comfortable market experiences in Southeast Asia.

One of Vientiane's top tourist sites is Patuxai, the Victory Gate. Patuxai is a monument in the center of Vientiane that is embellished with mystical Buddhist and Hindu figures and features a viewing platform at the top. Another site, just outside the city center, is Buddha Park, where more than 200 cement statues of Buddhist and Hindu figures inhabit neatly trimmed gardens.

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