Enjoy a view and a steam
Published/Last edited or updated: 3rd June, 2018
Wat Phu That sits atop the same named hill offering terrific sunset views over the surrounds, while near the foot of the hill you’ll find a Red Cross Sauna and Massage centre—what a terrific combination!
For only 15,000 kip, you can relax and feel good about supporting the Lao Red Cross in Udomxai. Funds generated from their traditional sauna and massage go to community first aid training, construction of toilets and gravity-fed water systems, relief aid and sex education.
The Red Cross Sauna is more or less behind (to the west of) Phu That. Once there, buy your ticket, wrap yourself in the sarong provided and duck in and out of the wood-fired sauna, alternating between almost unbearably hot herb-infused steam and rejuvenating cool fresh air.
Locals visit the sauna religiously, believing it is good for the health (and a good way to socialise). In fact, unlike Western saunas where you shower after the steam, locals leave it on to let the herbs soak into the skin. So join the fun: experience Lao culture and sweat it out.
You can also indulge in a no-frills massage for only 40,000 kip. While can’t vouch for the quality of the massage, if your body is suffering from the aches of life on the road, having someone knead and iron every single inch may be the perfect antidote.
The centre is roughly behind Phu That, atop which there is a standing golden Buddha and the Wat Phu That stupa—both are impressive, especially at sunset—and are easily visited in conjunction with a visit to the Red Cross massage centre.
At the top the air is fresh and the views over town and the surrounding mountains are quite lovely. The stupa is believed to date back to the 14th century and it still holds religious importance, with ceremonies held every full moon. Sometimes students visit at sunset to find tourists for a chat so they can practise their English, and maybe you can practise your Lao. The full name of the stupa is Xaymungkhun Ratanamingmuang.
To reach the wat, take the stairs opposite Litthavixay Guesthouse or use the road further towards the river—look for the sign.
Address: Behind Phouxay Hotel, beside Phu That
T: (081) 31 23 91;
Coordinates (for GPS): 101º58'55.49" E, 20º41'11.57" N
See position in Apple or Google Maps: Apple Maps | Google Maps
Admission: Sauna: 15,000 kip, Massage: 40,000 kip
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.
These tours are provided by Travelfish partner GetYourGuide.