Wat Xieng Thong, located on the peninsula of Luang Prabang, is a Buddhist temple or monastery regarded as one of the most important religious sites in Laos. It has historical and artistic significance as well. On a site including flowers, trees and shrubs there are 20 structures including shrines and residences. It dates back to the 16th Century and remained a royal temple until 1975 and Lao kings were all crowned there.
There has been some restoration work and with Laos and its rich history and culture now in the spotlight that seems certain to continue. Our Laos travel guide certainly hopes so.
How to get there
There is an airport that has flights from most of Laos’ neighbours. Some people on Indochina tour packages may in fact use buses and the border crossings to get to Luang Prabang. River transport is another alternative depending on the holiday in Laositinerary.
Best time to visit
Laos tour packagesare most popular during the months after the monsoon rains finish at the end of October. They do not return until May. There are visitors during the wet season though some of the roads are difficult after heavy rain.
The carvings on the gilded wooden doors are a great example of traditional Lao art. They show scenes from Buddha’s life while ceilings are covered in important text. The external walls show everyday life images and at the rear there is a mosaic in glass of the tree of life. The Red Chapel is also decorated with mosaics.
There were additions to the original site; a library in 1880 and a drum tower in 1961. The site was fortunately not damaged when the City was destroyed in 1887 because Deo Van Tri, the leader of the Black Flag Haw had trained as monk when he was young so he used it as his headquarters when he was attacking Luang Prabang.
There is a reclining Buddha sanctuary with a rare reclining Buddha dating back to the original construction. It was taken for display in Paris in 1931 and then retained in Vientiane until 1964.
Laos travel packages include accommodation and Luang Prabang has a range of choices. Wat XhiengThong is a gem with the town as a whole a UNESCO World Heritage because of such attractions. If you have never thought about Laos before then think again.