- Location: Soulignavongsa Road, Sisavang Vatthana Old Town, Luang Prabang
- Opening Hours: 08: 00-17: 00 (Monday to Sunday)
- Entrance Ticket: 20000Kip per person (tickets can be used for two consecutive days)
Wat Xiengthong is not only the most beautiful temple in Luang Prabang, but also the most magnificent and prestigious temple in the whole country. Like the Royal Palace Museum, Wat Xiengthong is also located near the Mekong River. Located in the northeast of the historic district in Luang Prabang, this temple was built on the riverside, right on the peninsula where the Mae Nam Khong and Nam Khan rivers meet. It now has become a must-see place for tourists in Luang Prabang. Wat Xiengthong is also one of the most important sites for celebration for Lao New Year.
History of Wat Xiengthong
It was originally built by King Setthatirath in 1560. It was destroyed by the Vietnamese invasion in 1887, and then was repaired in 1928 under the intervention of the Sisavang Vong. Until 1975, it was the private property of the royal family, namely the Royal Temple.
Wat Xiengthong is one of the well-preserved temples in Laos. It is the most important symbol of Laos' religious heritage. As the most important part of the world's cultural heritage, this temple is the treasure of Luang Prabang, and even to some extent, it is the treasure of Laos. There are several small halls and stupas at one end of the temple of Wat Xiengthong, which homes many Buddha statues. Among them, there is a reclining Buddha hall, where a reclining Buddha dating back to the beginning of the temple's construction is enshrined. This Buddha appeared at the Paris Exhibition in 1931 and has been collected in the capital Vientiane before returning to Luang Prabang in 1964. In 1887, the old city of Luang Prabang was looted by the Black Flag Haw, and most other temples were razed to the ground. But Wat Xiengthong survived. Some people said that it was because the leader of the Black Flag Haw- Deo Van Tri studied at this temple when he was a child and used it as the headquarter and a resting place for the army.
In the past, Wat Xiengthong was the place where the rituals at the highest level were held. It was less than 1 km away from the Phousi Hill Palace. The temple and the palace were closely related and mutually dependent. The king's wedding and funeral were held in the temple, and the monks' ceremonies were held in the palace. So it could be seen that after the 16th century, Buddhism and Laotian rule have become inseparable.
What to See in Wat Xiengthong
Wat Xiengthong is the most magnificent temple in Luang Prabang. It exemplifies the classic Luang Prabang's temple architecture style. The roof shape of the main hall is built in a typical Luang Prabang style. The three-story roof with a large slope almost falls to the ground. The walls and beams in the front of the main hall are all decorated with gold on a black background. On the outer wall, there are mosaic murals that tell the story of heroes and some life scenes. There is a funeral hall in the temple, and it houses a 12-meter high hearse decorated with golden dragon heads and royal cremation urns. There are also many exquisite small halls and stupas in this temple.
The back wall outside the hall is inlaid with the famous "The Tree Of Life", which is put together by mosaics. In the ancestral hall behind the main hall, there are pictures depicting people's living habits and Buddhist allusions in the 16th century. Legend has it that there was a big tree called "Maitong" with a height of 160 meters. Therefore, after the Buddha Temple was built, the builders used stained glass to build a big tree on the walls behind it, so that the tree could live forever. In the heart of the Lao people, trees are Buddhas, gods, and kings, and human should prostrate themselves in worship. People have a very strong spiritual attachment to the tree. They sometimes generously donated all their meager income, just to add another gem to this tree.
Although Wat Xiengthong is not large, the halls, temples and pagodas are arranged in an orderly manner, and it reflects the dignity of the royal family and the holiness of Buddhism everywhere. So you can't miss to visit it when you get to Luang Prabang.
Best Time to Visit Wat Xiengthong
November to March of the following year is the best time to visit, when the weather is cool.
How to Get to Wat Xiengthong
It is located on the main street at the end of the peninsular and closed to the city center of Luang Prabang. You can get to this temple on foot, by bike, or by Tuk Tuk.
- If you are staying in the central area of the old town of Luang Prabang, it only takes 20 minutes to reach it on foot.
- If you take Tuk Tuk, it only takes 5 minutes. Tuk Tuk only costs about 5000Kip / person from the city center.