Vientiane is the Laos capital city situated in the Mekong Valley. The name of the city is derived from Pali, the liturgical language of Theravada Buddhism. Its original meaning is "royal sandalwood grove" or "city of sandalwood", this tree being highly valued in classical India for its fragrance. Vientiane is a city full of surprises where you can find fields of rice and vegetables, agriculture hidden behind tree lined avenues. French Colonial architecture sits next to gilded temples.