Vientiane Capital's History

Ancient Vientiane once covered both banks of the Mekong River. Its first name was Ban Nong Khanthae Phiseuanam, and became Vientiane 500 years ago.

Vientiane Capital’s History


In 1357 King Fa Ngum held a celebration for the unification of all Lao territories, which enhanced his power throughout the Lane Xang Kingdom and neighbouring kingdoms. It was administered from the Pakpasak area in present day Vientiane.

In 1560, King Saysettha moved the Lane Xang Kingdom’s capital from Luang Prabang to Vientiane, naming it Nakorn Chanthabouly Sittatanakhanahood Outtama Rajathany.

During the reign of King Souliyavongsa Thamikarat in the 17th century, Vientiane rapidly developed. The city was the administrative centre for politics, socio-economics, and culture. However, Vientiane was burnt down by Siamese troops in 1828, and divided into two cities. The city on the southern bank of the Mekong River became part of Siam and the city on the northern side remained part of Laos. At present, Vientiane is a smaller city, only half of its former size.

Vieng (Vien) in Lao language means “City” and Chantha (tiane) is a Pali word meaning sandalwood or the moon. As such, sandalwood is the symbol of Vientiane, and the Lao people view the moon as their symbol, and once believed their origin was the moon. Even the design of the national flag has the image of the moon in its centre.

Source: Lao Ministry of Information, Culture, and Tourism