Photo: The amazing turquoises of Wat Xieng Thong.

Wat Xieng Thong

Our rating:

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.





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 ... please log in to read the rest of this story.


Don’t miss the boat!

Please subscribe to Travelfish.org to read the rest of this article, or log in here.


Subscribing to Travelfish costs A$35 per year and it gets you access to more than 200 downloadable guides to specific destinations, fabulous discount coupons and 50% off our personalised travel planning service. Sign up here.


By .


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

Start planning your holiday today

Sent every Monday, our newsletter is full of travel advice, news & special deals. Read past issues.

   

Popular attractions in Luang Prabang

A selection of some of our favourite sights and activities around Luang Prabang.



What next?

 Browse our independent reviews of places to stay in and around Luang Prabang.
 Check prices, availability & reviews on Agoda or Booking
 Read up on where to eat on Luang Prabang.
 Check out our listings of things to do in and around Luang Prabang.
 Read up on how to get to Luang Prabang.
 Do you have travel insurance yet? If not, find out why you need it.
 Planning on riding a scooter in Luang Prabang? Please read this.
 Browse the web securely while travelling with TunnelBear. Try with a 7–day free trial.


See below for more sights and activities in Luang Prabang that are listed on Travelfish.org.


Top of page


Where to next?

Where are you planning on heading to after Luang Prabang? Here are some spots commonly visited from here, or click here to see a full destination list for Laos.


Top of page