The Laotian capital of Vientiane, located on the Mekong River, was a French colony at one time, so visitors can expect to see traces of French influence, including street signs in French. The most popular tourist attraction in this city, also known as “the city of sandalwood,” is a Buddhist stupa, Pha That Luang, which dates back to 1586. The stupa stands 49 meters (147 feet) tall and is believed to contain relics of Buddha. Wat Si Muang, another popular site, is built on the ruins of a Khymer Hindu shrine. The city is a good place to buy silk.