Photo: The amazing turquoises of Wat Xieng Thong.

Wat Xieng Thong

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Luang Prabang has a whopping 34 UNESCO-protected temples to explore. If there’s one must see, it’s Wat Xieng Thong, considered the finest in all of Laos.

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Wat Xieng Thong, once known as “The Temple of the Golden City”, holds great cultural, historic and architectural importance. It is serenely situated near the tip of the peninsula at the confluence of two rivers, with a grand staircase leading up from the Mekong. For centuries it was considered the ceremonial gateway to the town, with visiting dignitaries and soon-to-be-crowned kings arriving via these steps. It was one of US President Obama's stops on a daytrip to Luang Prabang in September 2016.

It's the Luang Prabang temple you simply must see. Photo taken in or around Wat Xieng Thong, Luang Prabang, Laos by Cindy Fan.

It's the Luang Prabang temple you simply must see. Photo: Cindy Fan

What will strike you upon entering the complex is how peaceful and elegant it is. The sacred structures are enjoyable and so is the generous space that surrounds them. Here you can stand back at a distance, finding shelter from the sun under pink bougainvillea or a Bodhi tree to admire the gilded facades, mosaic tiles and sweeping roofs that make this temple so distinct.

Details, details. Photo taken in or around Wat Xieng Thong, Luang Prabang, Laos by Cindy Fan.

Details, details. Photo: Cindy Fan

King Setthathirat, who ruled from 1548 till 1571, built Wat Xieng Thong in 1559. Incredibly, over the years it has survived war and raids including the sacking of the city in 1887 by the Black Flag Army. Up until 1975, it was the site of coronation ceremonies for Lao kings.

Scenes of the terrestrial world. Photo taken in or around Wat Xieng Thong, Luang Prabang, Laos by Cindy Fan.

Scenes of the terrestrial world. Photo: Cindy Fan

Most wats in Luang Prabang are living, breathing structures and social institutions. Monks live, pray, meditate and study at them. Important ceremonies are still performed, devotees visit and pay respect. That is what is most refreshing compared to, say, the ruins of Angkor Wat. Here you get intimate glimpses of real monastic life. You can perhaps chat with a novice monk and if you go at off hours, you can easily feel like you have the place entirely ... Travelfish members only (Around 500 more words) ... please log in to read the rest of this story.

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Wat Xieng Thong
Enter from Sakkaline or Souvannakhamphong Rds, Luang Prabang
Daily 08:00 – 17:00
Admission: 20,000 kip

Location map for Wat Xieng Thong

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