Photo: Just gorgeous.

Wat Mai

Our rating:

Centrally located on Sisavangvong Road and an important site during the annual Pimai Lao festival, Wat Mai is one of Luang Prabang’s most photographed temples.





Founded at the end of the 18th century, construction, additions and expansions of this temple beside the Royal Palace meant it wasn’t finished until the late 1890s (the temple was spared during the Black Flag attack).

Not much has changed. Photo taken in or around Wat Mai, Luang Prabang, Laos by Cindy Fan.

Not much has changed. Photo: Cindy Fan

Further structures were added to the compound through the 20th century, with the latest renovations completed in the early 1960s. The sim is the highlight, with its five-tiered roof extending protection over the spectacular gilded bas relief depicting scenes from the Ramayana and the life story of the Buddha.

Wat Mai once housed Luang Prabang’s most valuable artefact, the Phra Bang: an 83-centimetre tall, 50-kilogram, mostly golden Buddha statue. In 1947 it was shifted to the Royal Palace Museum (or duplicated, with the original shifted to a vault in Vientiane or Moscow, depending on your penchant for conspiracies).

Best visited without the crowds. Photo taken in or around Wat Mai, Luang Prabang, Laos by Cindy Fan.

Best visited without the crowds. Photo: Cindy Fan

Every year during the Pimai Lao festival, the Phra Bang is carried from the museum to Wat Mai, ceremonially washed and displayed out front for three days. Otherwise, a different large golden Buddha sits on an altar ... please log in to read the rest of this story.


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Wat Mai
Sisavangvong Road, Luang Prabang
Admission: 10,000 kip

Location map for Wat Mai

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