Wat Mai

Wat Mai

One of Luang Prabang’s most photographed temples

More on Luang Prabang

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.

Travelfish says:

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. : 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. : 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 inside the sim.

Contact details for Wat Mai

Address: Sisavangvong Road, Luang Prabang
Coordinates (for GPS): 102º8'5.64" E, 19º53'25.8" N
See position in Apple or Google Maps: Apple Maps | Google Maps
Admission: 10,000 kip

Reviewed by

Cindy Fan is a Canadian writer/photographer and author of So Many Miles, a website that chronicles the love of adventure, food and culture. After falling in love with sticky rice and Mekong sunsets, in 2011 she uprooted her life in Toronto to live la vida Laos. She’s travelled to over 40 countries and harbours a deep affection for Africa and Southeast Asia. In between jaunts around the world, she calls Laos and Vietnam home where you'll find her traipsing through rice paddies, standing beside broken-down buses and in villages laughing with the locals.

Tours in Laos


These tours are provided by Travelfish partner GetYourGuide.


Our top 10 other sights and activities in and around Luang Prabang

Wat Xieng Thong
Wat Xieng Thong

Luang Prabang's most magnificent temple

One day in Luang Prabang
One day in Luang Prabang

A sample itinerary for a first–time visit

Boat rides
Boat rides

How about a sunset cruise on the Mekong River?

Tak bat
Tak bat

Morning alms giving procession

Pak Ou Caves
Pak Ou Caves

One of Luang Prabang’s most popular excursions

The temples of Luang Prabang
The temples of Luang Prabang

The stupa-fying main attractions

Tad Sae Waterfall
Tad Sae Waterfall

Great if it has been raining

Ban Chan pottery village
Ban Chan pottery village

Old fashioned pottery

Giving back
Giving back

Cause we've all got a lot to give