The city of Vientiane is the capital of modern day Laos, and today it is a city that combines that feel of a modern Asian city with that of its spiritual past. The city is mentioned in a legendary Laotian epic that claims the city was founded by Prince Thattaradtha, the older of two royal sons, who was denied the throne of the Lao kingdom. Whether this is true or not is left to the imagination, but the city’s founding dates back to around 1000 AD, and more likely it was a Khmer settlement.

The area was likely conquered by the Thai and Lao people’s in the 12th century, and later in the 14th century would become a major cultural center of the newly established Kingdom of Lan Xang. It became this kingdom’s capital city in 1560 and remained so until the fall of the kingdom at the beginning of the 18th century. It was an independent city state for the next 70 years until was made a vassal state of the Siamese.

With the arrival of French colonial ambitions in the 19th century control of the city passed to French rule, and it was made capital of the French protectorate of Laos in 1899.

Following the First Indochina War in 1954 the city of Vientiane became the capital of an independent Laos. After the Second Indochina War, also known as the Vietnam War, the United States imposed an embargo on Laos, which was finally lifted in 1995 opening this hidden jewel of a city to American travelers.