As you walk through the streets of Luang Prabang, you are surrounded by beautiful temples with curved roofs called wat or vat. These Luang Prabang temple are not only a sight to behold, but they are also a source of great pride for the people here. They are reminders of the rich history and culture of this city, and testimonies to the strongly-held beliefs of the people who live here. Learn more: Luang Prabang travel guide
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How to get to Luang Prabang
To get to Luang Prabang, you can travel in various ways. Here are some recommendations for transportation to make traveling on your trip easier:
- By plane: Laos Airline (reservation line: 021/212-057 or 214-427) is where you may buy airline tickets. Flights are available starting at $76 from Vientiane to Luang Prabang one way. Visit the Laos Airline website for additional flights from Siem Reap (Cambodia), Hanoi (Vietnam), and other locations to Luang Prabang.
- By bus: The public bus ride to Luang Prabang from Vientiane’s Northern bus terminal takes about 10 hours. However, the journey is rocky and winding endlessly, and local buses are frequently crowded.
- By boat: Boats are a welcome substitute for long, choppy bus rides in northern Laos. Due to the dam’s construction, it is no longer possible to cruise from Luang Prabang to Nong Kiaow and Muang Ngoi on the Nam Ou River; however, boats continue to go up the Mekong to Huay Xai and the Thai border via Pakbeng.
How many temples in Luang Prabang
About 33 temples in Luang Prabang show various varieties of Lao, Thai, and Khmer architecture, and they are all distinguished by their spectacular golden spires, handpainted murals, and whitewashed stupas. Each has a unique history, some of which go back hundreds of years, while others have been rebuilt after being burned down and pillaged by other warring kingdoms.
12 famous Luang Prabang temple in Laos you must visit
Wat Xieng Thong (also known as the Golden City Monastery)
Wat Xieng Thong is one of the oldest, most beautiful, and most important temples in Luang Prabang and a popular tourist destination. Between 1559 and 1560, King Setthathirath had this temple built, in an area that was called Lan Xang (the Land of a Million Elephants), which gave modern-day Laos one of its epithets. The temple is home to a rare reclining Buddha statue.
Major celebrations for Pi Mai (Lao New Year) are held here. When Luang Prabang was still the capital of Laos, kings were crowned in this temple. Today it still stands as an excellent example of traditional Lao Buddhist architecture, an archive of historical documents, and a crucial place of worship.
- Entrance Fee: 20,000 Kip (1.17 USD) per person
- Address: Khem Khong, Luang Prabang, Laos
Vat Haw Pha Bang
Every new year, a standing statue of the Buddha is brought in procession from Haw Pha Bang to Wat Mai (the largest temple in the city). This statue, called Pha Bang, is cast in an alloy of gold, silver, and bronze, and is said to represent the right of kings to rule. As such, it is the most revered Buddha image in the country. The temples in Luang Prabang built to house it is on the grounds of the Royal Palace, and no expenses were spared in making the temple golden and gorgeous.
- Entrance Fee: 30,000 Kip (1.76 USD) per person, includes also the entrance fee to the Museum
- Address: V4RP+MHC, Sisavangvong Road, Luang Prabang, Laos
Read more: Alms-Giving Ceremony
Vat Sensoukharam (also known as the Temple of the 100,000 treasures)
This is a beautiful Luang Prabang temple that is best visited in the early morning (to avoid the crowd) or at night (when the grounds are softly lit). In addition to photos of the wat itself, this is also a good vantage point to take pictures of the alms-giving ceremony, so long as you do it respectfully and at a distance. The procession of monks receiving alms passes just outside the temple. The monastery is closed during the day.
- Entrance Fee: Free entrance
- Address: V4WR+5M2, Luang Prabang, Laos
Wat Aham (also known as the Monastery of the Blossoming Heart)
Located close to the more famous and touristy Wat Visounnarath, this small and serene temple is nevertheless a good visit, if only to escape the crowd or to hide from the sun beneath the cool tree canopy. Its prayer halls are decorated with colorful murals depicting Lao life. Locals come to pray beneath the two massive bodhi trees on the grounds in order to chase away any spate of bad luck.
- Entrance fee: 5.000 Kip (0.3 USD) per person
- Address: Outside the peninsula, on the Wisunarat road
Wat Chom Si on the summit of Mount Phou Si
A whopping 328-step staircase takes you to Wat Chom Si, the monastery atop Mount Phou Si, and its golden stupa. Depending on your tastes, you may find the building underwhelming – but the view is always spectacular. Every sunset and sunrise, the site is stuffed to bursting with people holding cameras and patiently waiting for the golden or scarlet rays to suffuse the land of Luang Prabang and the waters of the Mekong River below. Once the sun has set, visitors can go shopping and enjoy delicious local food in the night market at the foot of the mountain.
- Entrance Fee: 20,000 Kip (1.19 USD)
- Address: 10 Kingkitsarath Rd, Luang Prabang, Laos