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Luang Prabang. Wat Wisunarat was originally built in 1513 and features a massive Buddha surrounded by “Calling for Rain Buddhas”. Outside, an ancient stone stupa is quite the contrast to the ornate temple.

Luang Prabang. Wat Wisunarat was originally built in 1513 and features a massive Buddha surrounded by “Calling for Rain Buddhas”. Outside, an ancient stone stupa is quite the contrast to the ornate temple.

Vientiane – City of Sandalwood Our Senior Discovery Tours group flew in from frenetic Hanoi to Zen-like Vientiane, the small town capital of Laos, whose names derives from the sandalwood used in many of its temples and palaces. This is a devoutly Buddhist country, so our first stop was the golden stupa of Pha That Luang – the most important national monument in Laos. Its importance is as the site of a stupa built in the 3rd century BC to protect the breastbone of the Buddha himself.

Vientiane – City of Sandalwood Our Senior Discovery Tours group flew in from frenetic Hanoi to Zen-like Vientiane, the small town capital of Laos, whose names derives from the sandalwood used in many of its temples and palaces. This is a devoutly Buddhist country, so our first stop was the golden stupa of Pha That Luang – the most important national monument in Laos. Its importance is as the site of a stupa built in the 3rd century BC to protect the breastbone of the Buddha himself.

Wat Ho Phra Keo. The Temple of the Emerald Buddha, as it is known in English, is now more museum than temple. Outside, the cloisters feature great bronze Buddha statues, magnificent 16th century lacquered doors and, numerous Khmer stone carvings. The stone balustrade of each of the temple stairs features a Naga dragon with its head facing the grounds, guarding the sacred building. The shady garden is an oasis of calm, offering a quiet place to meditate and rest.

Wat Ho Phra Keo. The Temple of the Emerald Buddha, as it is known in English, is now more museum than temple. Outside, the cloisters feature great bronze Buddha statues, magnificent 16th century lacquered doors and, numerous Khmer stone carvings. The stone balustrade of each of the temple stairs features a Naga dragon with its head facing the grounds, guarding the sacred building. The shady garden is an oasis of calm, offering a quiet place to meditate and rest.

Luang Prabang. I went on a temple crawl – golden buildings gleaming in the sunshine with sweeping roofs, stunning mosaics and statues of Buddha of all shapes and sizes inside. Wat Wisunarat was originally built in 1513 and features a massive Buddha surrounded by “Calling for Rain Buddhas”.

Luang Prabang. I went on a temple crawl – golden buildings gleaming in the sunshine with sweeping roofs, stunning mosaics and statues of Buddha of all shapes and sizes inside. Wat Wisunarat was originally built in 1513 and features a massive Buddha surrounded by “Calling for Rain Buddhas”.

Wat Ho Phra Keo. The Temple of the Emerald Buddha, as it is known in English, is now more museum than temple. Outside, the cloisters feature great bronze Buddha statues, magnificent 16th century lacquered doors and, numerous Khmer stone carvings. The stone balustrade of each of the temple stairs features a Naga dragon with its head facing the grounds, guarding the sacred building. The shady garden is an oasis of calm, offering a quiet place to meditate and rest.

Wat Ho Phra Keo. The Temple of the Emerald Buddha, as it is known in English, is now more museum than temple. Outside, the cloisters feature great bronze Buddha statues, magnificent 16th century lacquered doors and, numerous Khmer stone carvings. The stone balustrade of each of the temple stairs features a Naga dragon with its head facing the grounds, guarding the sacred building. The shady garden is an oasis of calm, offering a quiet place to meditate and rest.

Wat Si Saket is the city’s oldest surviving temple and the only one to have survived the Siamese colonization of Laos. In the mid-morning heat, it was a sleepy place, quiet and calm, with a sun-filled courtyard surrounded by colonnades.

Wat Si Saket is the city’s oldest surviving temple and the only one to have survived the Siamese colonization of Laos. In the mid-morning heat, it was a sleepy place, quiet and calm, with a sun-filled courtyard surrounded by colonnades.

Lake Nam Ngum. Our lunch stop was Lake Nam Ngum where we boarded a covered barge for a peaceful cruise and lunch on the largest lake in Laos. The festival of That Luang was being celebrated here too, with dragon boat races on the lake and a carnival atmosphere ashore

Lake Nam Ngum. Our lunch stop was Lake Nam Ngum where we boarded a covered barge for a peaceful cruise and lunch on the largest lake in Laos. The festival of That Luang was being celebrated here too, with dragon boat races on the lake and a carnival atmosphere ashore

Ba Dinh Square is the heart of a complex that is of the greatest importance to most Viet people. It is a monumental square whose focal point is the massive, sombre mausoleum of Ho Chi Minh. The man himself wished for a simple cremation, but it was not to be, and people come from all over the country to view his preserved body.

Ba Dinh Square is the heart of a complex that is of the greatest importance to most Viet people. It is a monumental square whose focal point is the massive, sombre mausoleum of Ho Chi Minh. The man himself wished for a simple cremation, but it was not to be, and people come from all over the country to view his preserved body.

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