If you loved Thailand and the Thai temples, head further North to the less visited but still popular country of Laos. There are some amazing temples in Luang Prabang, the former capital of Laos (the capital is now Vientiane). Here are 11 amazing Luang Prabang temples not to be missed…
Wat May Souvannapoumaram
5minutes walk along Mekong River from Luang Prabang town, Wat May Souvannapoumaram is a typical Laotian style temple and houses hundreds of Buddha images. It is sometimes called Wat Sri Khuan to differentiate it from the other May temple in Luang Prabang (see below). Built in 1909 during the reign of Chao Anouvong, it was enlarged by King Sisavong Pativat in 1969 on the occasion of his second visit to Wat Xiengthong. The temple is also known as Wat Pha Siphan Vongkhap or Wat Xiengthong Bok in reference to some of the Buddha images installed there.
5minutes walk along Mekong River from Luang Prabang town, Wat Xiengthong is an imposing and imposing structure with a towering central tower housing a gold seated Buddha image. Built in 1954 by King Savang Vatthana, the temple houses hundreds of Buddha images. Some of the images are said to be several hundred years old and come from Wat Pha Siphan Vongkhap.
Built in 1460 by Chao Thasack, who was the king at the time, Wat Mahathat is now a museum that houses an interesting collection of Buddha images including a large gilded seated Buddha image which is over 150 years old. The temple is at the top of a flight of stairs and opens at 8 am.
5minutes walk along Mekong River from Luang Prabang town, Wat Wisunarat is a large temple built in 1813. The temple houses a huge seated Buddha image said to have been built during the reign of King Bun Racha (1637-1705).
Wat Chom Si
Located on the road to the airport, Wat Chom Si was built in 1566 and is about 7 km from Luang Prabang town. Wat Chom Si houses many Buddha images, some of them being more than 150 years old. In addition, there is a natural rock and cave with several Buddha images depicting scenes from Buddha’s life. The temple opens at 8 am, but there is no admission fee.
Located on the Royal Paradise hill, Wat Manorom is one of the most impressive temples in Luang Prabang. The temple was built in 1695 and has a very dramatic gilded main Buddha image, adorned with jewellery and jewels. The temple is open daily until 4 pm.
Wat Phon Phao
This temple is open daily 8 am to 6 pm (7 pm during the rainy season). It is on Vientiane Road (1 km west from town) towards the airport (Phon Phao means ‘Beautiful Temple’). This temple is a must see for those who are interested in architecture and houses several Buddha images inside, some of them dating back to the 1800s.
Wat Sop Sickharam
6 km west of Luang Prabang town, Wat Sop Sickharam is one of two Phra That (serve as the seat) of King Sisavith Vongsa. The temple was built on top of a mountain and dates back to 1766 (King Sisavith Vongsa reigned 1740-1767). The main building houses a large seated Buddha image as well as several small shrines.
Wat Pa Phai
Wat Pa Phai is the newly constructed temple in Luang Prabang, located on a small hill in the picturesque Maenam area. The design of the temple reflects Lao influences. The main Buddha image at Wat Pa Phai, called Lian Kantharodhi, can be found in Wat Xiengthong, Suan Dok Khao and Wat Chom Si temples. It was moved from Wat Xiengthong to Wat Pa Phai at the request of King Sisavong Savang Vatthana during his reign (1950-1968). This temple is open daily until 7:30 pm. Admission fee applies for both day and night visits.
Wat Pak Khan Khammuanghun
Wat Pak Khan Khammuanghun houses a large Buddha image from the 17th century. The temple is part of a monastery complex housing over 200 monks and nuns, and opens at 6 am daily. Wat Pak Khan Khammuanghun is also known as Wat Xiengthong Pa Khah Khammuanghun which means “the temple of Wat Xiengthong with many beautiful paintings”. It is only open during the day.
This temple was built in 1774 by King Oudomsin Vongsa (King from 1781 to 1805). The temple houses a large Buddha image as well as many smaller Buddha images. The temple is located near Wat Khuan Khan Khammuanghun on the Luang Prabang – Phonsavanh road. Wat Aphay is only open during the day and admission is free.
The temples are open daily for worship and also serve as an interesting place to visit during the day when many people are not around to enjoy peace and quiet. Remember to wear shoed that you can easily slip off and conservative clothing that covers your shoulders and legs.
Have you visited any of these Luang Prabang temples? If so, I’d love to hear from you – please comment on my blog below. You might also like to read about Laos Wat Sisaket in Vientiane.