Inside Asia Tours: Vietnam, Cambodia & Laos

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Friday, 9th September 2016

Follow in Barack Obama?s footsteps after his visit to Laos

Barack Obama became the first serving president of the US to visit Laos when he attended the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit earlier this month. Despite being there on official duties, America’s head of state managed to see something of the country and its incredible sights. He was even photographed enjoying drinking out of a fresh coconut with a straw.

You too can visit the places that Obama added to his itinerary in a bid to experience some of the unique culture and beauty of Laos.


It was Laos’ capital Vientiane that was the location of a gala dinner for the leaders attending a gala dinner as part of the ASEAN Summit. Away from the bureaucratic buildings, however, the city retains much of its colonial charm, with wide French boulevards, lined with trees, contrasting with typical Asian tuk tuks.

Mekong River in Luang Prabang

It was along the waterfront of the Mekong River that Obama was seen sipping on his coconut. This is a picturesque place to go for a stroll, as the president found out and there are a number of stalls set up to sell refreshments to passersby. Obama waited patiently as the local woman he bought the coconut off removed the top to allow him to drink the nectar inside.

Wat Xieng Thong

Laos is full of temples, pagodas and stupas, making them a must-see for many visitors to the country. Obama was no exception, using some of his downtime to visit Wat Xieng Thong, an elaborately decorated Buddhist temple right at the northern end of the Luang Prabang peninsula.

Here, he met with Buddhist monks, dressed in their distinctive saffron robes, as well as admiring the incredible architecture of the place. He was photographed in the temple’s grounds, where a big golden barge resides. Its bow is decorated with dragons and he was seen staring right into the mouth of one of them, reports AP.

Obama then went to the back of Wat Xieng Thong, where a stunning selection of Buddha images are lined up. It is not surprising to see so much gilt work inside at the sight, as it is known as the Temple of the Golden City. It dates back to the 16th century and was under royal patronage right up to the abolition of the monarchy in Laos in 1975.

Souvenir shopping

Just like many other visitors to Laos, Obama was keen to go shopping while he was in Luang Prabang. He made his way to local stores, perhaps hoping to pick something up for Michelle and the girls. He was spotted by well-wishers along the way and stopped to shake hands and exchange greetings.

Related news stories:
What to know before you go to Laos (23rd April 2015)
The Laos reading list (6th October 2015)
Why has Laotian food not been widely exported to the rest of the world? (2nd April 2015)
Eat your way through Luang Prabang?s night market (26th May 2016)
How to live like a local in Laos (28th January 2016)