Top 10 Temples in Laos You Must See AT LEAST ONCE
by Top Mekong Cruises Aug 02, 2017
Do not hesitate to step into the Buddhist world in Laos if you really interested in this beautiful country. The large systems of impressive temples, stupas, and monasteries can offer you the best experiences of examining about Lao culture. The following article lists some outstanding and most impressive temples in Laos to put in your bucket list.
THE IMPORTANT ROLE OF TEMPLES IN LAOS
From the early time, Laotian people believed in ghost and really respected to the Buddha. Thus, temples were erected in many areas over the country to worship Buddhism. To Laotian, temples are centers of respect and magic. They are decorated more beautiful than houses and become the best architectures which are received a lot of attention from villagers. Besides known as the places for offering, these temples were also known as the center of donation in the past. Since going along with the history of the country, many temples including the old ones and the restored ones really reserve an important part of Laos religion and culture. Follow Top Mekong Cruises now to discover more about temples in Laos.
THE 10 MOST IMPRESSIVE TEMPLES IN LAOS
1. PHA THAT LUANG
Pha That Luang is at the top of the list. Located in Vientiane, Pha That Luang or the Great Stupa is one of the most beautiful and famous temples in Laos. It can be seen as one of the national symbols and its image is embodied on Laos’ official seal.
Pha That Luang - The most beautiful symbol of Laos
About the history of the temple, the original Pha That Luang is believed to be built in the third century for enshrining the relic of Buddha. The current one was built in the 16th century, but soon was destroyed and abandoned due to the war with Siamese. It was not until Laos was under the rule of France that Pha That Luang was rebuilt in its original design.
This worship center looks like a fortress and is erected with three levels in which each level reflects each stage of Buddhist enlightenment. Moreover, walking along the cloisters, you can contemplate plenty of Buddha images, tiny windows, statues of Naga snakes guarded on the stairs and statues of King Jayavarman VII, who created the big change in Laotian religion.
If you visit Pha That Luang in the right season, you will have a chance to attend the famous Theravada Buddhist Festival or Pha That Luang Festival, which is annually held here for 3 days during the full moon of twelfth lunar month.
- Opening hours: 8 AM - 4PM
- Entrance fee: 5000 Kip per person
2. WAT XIENG THONG
Located in Luang Prabang, Wat Xieng Thong is a beautiful example of temples in Laos. About Wat Xieng Thong history, the temple was first built in 1560 under the rule of King Setthathirath. However, because of time and war, the temple was damaged much and remodeled in the 1960s.
The Charming Appearance of Wat Xieng Thong in the early morning
The magnificent features of the original form are still reserved, for example, the sweeping double-tiered roof and the colorful decorations inside and outside the temple. Except for the gold lacquers restored and added to the wall and the entrance, the statue of Buddha and the mythical statues inside the temple, the tree of life mosaic set on the western exterior wall is one of the most impressive points of the temple.
Asian boy pay respect Buddha at Wat Xieng thong temple at twilight time
Is it easy to get to Wat Xieng Thong? The temple is situated right at the heart of Luang Prabang. Hence, it is easily accessible by tuktuk or private cars. You can also walk there from the night market to enjoy the bustling vibes of this town. For those who wants to gain one-of-a-kind experience, it is possible to set sails to Wat Xieng Thong on river cruises in Laos as the temple is located on the bank of Mekong River. During the cruise, you will have a chance to explore many regions in Laos, along with Luang Prabang, stunning scenery in Laos and various local villages.
- Opening Hours: 8 AM - 5 PM
- Entrance fee: 20,000 Kip per Person
- Wat Xieng Thong Dress Code: You are required to follow a dress code when visiting the temple to show your respect for Lao religion. Particularly, women travelers must wear not-too-short skirt or pants or they have to cover the legs. If you don’t bring any long pants, then don’t worry as you can easily rent a Laotian long skirt for 5000 kip at the door
3. WAT PHOU
Unlike other ancient temples in Laos, Wat Phou or Vat Phu does not worship Buddha. It was built in Khmer architecture and dedicated to Hinduism. The reputation of the temple located at the foot of a hill comes from its historical, religious values and the stunning structure. This oldest temple in Laos is believed to be built earlier than Angkor Complex in Cambodia. It consists of the ancient buildings with ancient sculptures, decoration patterns, stone statues and the foot print of Buddha on the big stone.
Wat Phou - The Oldest and Most Mysterious Temples in Laos
For festival enthusiasts, Boun Wat Phou or Wat Phou Festival annually takes place here on the 15th day of the third Lunar month. During the festival, many traditional procedures, dance and music performances are held making this one of the must-see local festivals in Laos. Especially, on the last day of this 3-day festival, you will have a chance to admire the famous Tak Bat alms ceremony, which attracts a large number of pilgrims and monks throughout the country.
- Opening Hours: 8 AM - 4:30 PM
- Entrance Fee: 35,000 kip per person for 1-day visiting
One-of-a-kind Architecture of Wat Phou
4. WAT SI SAKET
Wat Si Saket is the oldest Buddhist monastery in Vientiane - the capital of Laos. Built in 1820 and restored in the 1930s, the temple still remains its impressive original form. This five-tiered roof temple attracts many visitors by its long-term history and the beautiful ornament. There’s no doubt that travelers can have chances to contemplate the ancient architecture with over 10,000 images of Buddha, Nagas, seated Buddha statues and charming decoration patterns.
- Opening hours: 8 AM - 4 PM
- Entrance fee: 5000 Kip per person
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Wat Si Saket - An Architectural Masterpiece
5. HAW PHRA KAEW
Another worthwhile visiting temple is Haw Phra Kaew or Ho Phra Keo, which is also situated in Vientiane. The temple was first built by King Setthathirat as the place for dedicating to the royal family and Emerald Buddha which is set in a temple in Bangkok from 1778 to this day.
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Ho Phra Keo first impresses visitors by the green and beautiful garden surrounding it and the style of a traditional temple. Then, the Naga snakes set on two sides of the stair ways, the gallery of bronze Buddha statues, stunning wood carvings and Buddhist manuscripts can definitely make you fall in love with this temple.
- Opening Hours: 8AM – 12AM & 1PM – 4PM
- Entrance fee: 5000 Kip per person
Buddha statues located at the outside wall of the Hor Phra Keo museum building
6. WAT MAI SUWANNAPHUMAHAM
If you want to see more details of decorating patterns in a temple, Wat Mai Suwannaphumaham is a good option. This five-tiered-roof temple is located in Luang Prabang. It is really outstanding with the golden reliefs depicting the life of villagers, Buddhist scenes, festival and dancing women. Moreover, the black and red lacquer set on the wall and the ceiling make the temple more colorful and attractive.
- Opening hours: 8AM – 5PM
- Entrance fee: 10,000 kip per person
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Impressive Buddhist wall inside Wat Mai
7. PAK OU CAVES
If you’re travelling to Laos region, a visit to the abandoned temple Luang Prabang of Pak Ou Caves would be a great trip to get a feel for Laos Buddhism.
Pak Ou caves are one of the most historic temples in Luang Prabang, a sacred site for the people of Laos. Situated upstream from the Mekong, 25 kilometers from Luang Prabang in Northern Laos, Pak Ou Caves are packed with thousands of Buddha statues, set in a rocky cliff face overlooking the Mekong River.
The caves are accessible by tuk tuk or by boat. A boat trip along the Mekong river to this Laos Buddhist temple is the most popular way offering a truly authentic cruising experience with a stunning view of the river and local life.
You will find yourself traveling back in time when you discover these two caves with their own characteristics as a variety of Laos Buddha statues in all shapes and sizes.
- Opening hours: 8AM - 5PM
- Entrance fee: 20,000 Kip
There are thousands of Buddha statues and images of all sizes in Pak Ou
8. BUDDHA PARK
Buddha Park, also known as Wat Xieng Khuan is one of the most outstanding historic sites in Vientiane Laos. Located 25 kilometers southeast of Vientiane, this open-air sculpture park is an astounding display of outsider artistry with more than 200 statues Hindus and Buddhists sprinkled on it.
Although referred to as Wat Xieng Khuan, Buddha Park is not really a Buddhist temple. The highlights of the Park include a 40-metre reclining Buddha, Indra (a Hindu god) a 2-headed elephant, and a 4-armed deity riding a horse. The Buddha Park is full of concrete sculptures and constructions from Hindu and Buddha statues to anthropomorphic sculptures, animals, gods and demons.
- Opening Hours: 8Am - 5PM
- Entrance Fee:15,000 Kip.
- Cameras cost an additional 3,000 Lao kip
9. WAT AHAM
Although there are many temples in Laos in the past and at present, Wat Aham is still one of the most significant religious sites in Laos. This is a small temple near Wat Wisunalat, a Laos golden temple and connected through a large gateway.
Wat Aham signifies "The Monastery of the Blossoming Heart". It is undoubtedly a place for meditating and meeting with the practices of Buddhists and its spiritual culture.
Dating back to 1818, this is one of the most ancient temples famous for its long and colorful history of worshipping in Luang Prabang.
- Opening hours: daily from 8AM - 5PM.
- Entrance fee: 5,000 Kip (about US$ 0.65) per person.
10. WAT SI MUANG
Wat Si Muang or Simoung is a Buddhist temple in Vientiane – Laos capital. It is one of the most visited and appreciated by Laotian people thanks to its fascinating legend that still hold a great significance among the Laotian community.
Unlike other temples in Laos, Wat Si Muang is open to all people without any entrance fee. Compared to the rest of temples in Vientiane, Wat Si Muang differs in structure and composition set in a tranquil ground.
- Opening hours: daily from 6AM - 7PM
- Entrance fee: Free
Local people giving offerings in Wat Si Muang
Far beyond these impressive temples in Laos, this peaceful landlocked country boasts engless mysteries and charms for you to uncover. Check out our website for the best offers for your cruise trip and Mekong cruise tips for further cruising experiences.