Wat Xieng Thong – A Magnificient Masterpiece in Luang Prabang

Of all monasteries in Luang Prabang, Wat Xieng Thong is the best example for the mighty beauty of the Buddhist architecture and also one of Laos most richly decorated temples. Situated close to where the Mekong River joins the Nam Khan River, this temple is renowned as not only the location for Lao kings’ coronation but also a gathering place for annual festivities. If you travel to Luang Prabang, you should not miss visiting this beautiful temple.

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WHAT TO SEE

The Sim

Also called the congregation hall, the sim is the most important building of all which make up Wat Xieng Thong. The impressive structure is built in Luang Prabang style with the sweeping roof extending almost to the ground. In addition, there is a nice contrast between dark wood and the carved gilded counterpart of the mosaics in the blue base glass. Especially, the golden wood carvings show all of its splendor and brilliance.

The sim’s back wall has a colorful mosaic of the tree of life on a red background which is a Lao master craftsman’s work in the year of 1960. In the top of the picture is a standing Buddha and at the bottom of the picture is a man walking and many animals including a tiger and two peacocks. There is also an complexly carved, gilded entrance door on either side of the mosaic.

The sim’s interior is also very impressive. The roof is supported by large stenciled teak wood pillars and the walls are stenciled in gold on black lacquer with floral motifs, animals, scenes of daily life, and Jataka tales. On an elaborate pedestal is the principal Buddha image in the Bhumisparsha mudra, surrounded by many smaller images.

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Chapel of the Standing Buddha

The Chapel of the Standing Buddha is next to the sim. Its pediment contains colorful glass mosaics of flower motifs and two kinnaree which are a mythological creature half human and half bird. In addition, the roof ends are adorned with Chofahs, finials depicting the mythological Naga serpent believed to protect Buddhism. The walls of the chapel are red covered with gold stenciling and at the back wall is the bronze, gilded Buddha image in the Abhaya mudra, expressing the fearlessness.

Chariot Hall

Chariot Hall completed in 1962 contains a funeral carriage of King Sisavang Vong who died in 1959. The hall has attractive carved and gilded teak wood panels of the facade depicting flower motifs and scenes from the Phra Lak Phra Lam, the Laos version of the Indian epic Ramayana. Moreover, its interior walls are adorned with glass mosaics and gold stenciling on the red lacquer. The halls contain King Sisavang Vong’s gilded, carved wooden funeral carriage that is decorated with large Naga snakes at the front.

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Ho Trai

Ho Trai, which is behind the sim, is the library keeping the Triptaka and the Buddhist scriptures. It is a small, elaborately decorated structure with stylized Naga finials at its ends. Furthermore, colorful glass mosaics on a pink background shows scenes of daily Luang Prabang life. This library also contains a number of gilded Buddha images.

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Other Structures

The temple grounds also include the Chapelle Rounge, drum tower, a lot of stupas, a pavilion with a seated Buddha, monks living quarters, a boat shelter and a Bodhi tree.

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HOW TO GET THERE 

The Wat is situated at the end of the Luang Prabang peninsula between Khem Khong road and Sakkaline road. To visit Wat Xieng Thong, you can walk from the Royal Palace or use a tuk -tuk since there are no buses in this area.

ENTRY FEE & OPENING HOUR

The temple open from 8 am to 5 pm every day and the entrance fee is 20,000 Kip per person. The Wat is a temple with monks living and praying here so you must dress respectfully, which means no bare shoulders, no shorts and no short skirts. If necessary, you can hire a traditional sarong to cover up. Additionally, please take your shoes off before entering one of the temple buildings. Souvenirs close to the temple entrance are also available.

wat xieng thong 6President Barack Obama on a visit to Wat Xieng Thong

In conclusion, Wat Xieng Thong is a superb piece of Lao temple architecture so visiting this temple must be in your list.

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