Pha That Luang – The Most Important Buddhist Monument in Laos

Is there any stupa covered in about 1,100 pounds of gold leaf in the heart of Vientiane? Of course, that can only be Pha That Luang which is one of the most famous cultural landmarks and top tourists attractions in Laos. 

The history of Pha That Luang

Pha That Luang was said to have originally housed Buddha’s breast bone which was a gift from the Indian emperor Ashoka. Then, in the 13th century, the Khmer built a temple on the ruins of the earlier stupa that fell into disrepair itself. 

The stupa was built in 1566 after King Setthathirat had made Vientiane the new capital of Lan Xang Kingdom. Also, at this time, the stupa was covered with gold leaf.

In 1827, most of Vientiane was destroyed by Siamese invaders and Pha That Luang was also heavily damaged, eventually left abandoned. Luckily, it was reconstructed in the 1930s by the French to its original design.

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The structure of Pha That Luang

That Luang Stupa is a huge Buddhist temple of 45 meters in height and width 69 meters built in the shape of a pyramid. 

The Pha That Luang has three levels. On the top of the first level wall are hundreds of sema stones that mark the sacred area. In addition, at the center of each side of the wall is a prayer gate called Haw Wai. It is an open structure with a double roof containing a Buddha image and there are Naga snakes guarding the stair to it.

The second level is on the top of the wall, having hundreds of sema stones and 30 small stupas. The arched gates lead to the third level that measures 30 by 30 meters and contains the 45-meter high stupa. The upper part of the stupa looks like an elongated lotus bud which is topped with a multi-tiered parasol.

The main tower is surrounded by 30 smaller stupas all of which is also covered with gold, lush gardens, sculptures, statues, and a palace. You can also find souvenir shops and food stalls outside the walled area easily.

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Pha That Luang Festival

Boun That Luang, which is the most important Buddhist festival, is held during the full moon of the 12th lunar month. During three days of Buddhist ceremonies and celebrations, thousands of people flock to Pha That Luang to pay homage to the golden stupa and to give alms to the monks. Besides, the grounds are filled with hundreds of stalls selling food, clothing and various crafts. There are many activities like carnival rides, games and rides for children, musical performances, and so on.

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How to get there

The golden stupa is situated on Thanon That Luang, a few kilometers North East of the heart of Vientiane. From the center of the town, you can get there by private tuk-tuk that will cost about 60,000 Kip.

Entrance fee and opening hour

Pha That Luang opens from 8 am until noon and from 1 pm to 4 pm. In terms of the admission to the golden stupa, you have to spend 5,000 Kip per person. Entrance to the surrounding buildings and temples is free. Besides, the best time to visit Pha That Luang is in early morning, when there are few tourists.

To sum up, Pha That Luang is truly a cannot-be-miss destination when you visit Vientiane. A trip to this stunning building will be an interesting experience in your life.


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Brian Vu

Working for a travel company is a big chance for me to feel love with travel. Specially, leisure is not my style, riding motorbike to discover everywhere is really great for my trips. On each miles I reach, I get opportunity to learn more about the local culture, to see ... [View Details...]