Laos is not only famous for its natural landscapes that still retain their wild beauty but also for religious activities with profound cultural values. In this article, we will learn more about the most important Luang Prabang temple – Laos, Wat Xieng Thong.
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Throwback to the 16th century (1559-1560), King Setthathirath built the Wat Xieng Thong to honor the fabled King Chanthaphanith. Wat Xieng Thong was still under the royal family’s patronage till 1975 before becoming a coronation spot of yearly festivities celebrating the Buddha and different folk gods.
Fortunately, the Wat is one of the temples that was not affected during the invasion of Black Flag Haw. Nowadays, Wat Xieng Thong is known as a stunning and lavishly adorned temple.
Numerous restorations have taken place since the structure was completed, including a famous one in which the French took part. Laos was a French protectorate from 1893 to 1953; therefore, King Sisavangvong successfully insisted that France contributed a portion of the repair costs when the French Governor General visited Luang Prabang in 1928.
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How to get to Wat Xieng Thong?
Wat Xieng Thong is situated on the main street of the Luang Prabang peninsula, above the Mekong River. Tuk-tuks are the most often used mode of transportation in Luang Prabang. Depending on where your accommodation is, the cost of your tuk-tuk might be around 15.000 Kip (approximately $1). You can stroll there if your hotel is close to the temple.
Wat Xieng Thong welcomes tourists daily from 8 AM to 5 PM throughout the year.
The ticket fee to Wat Xieng Thong is 20.000 Kip ( which is around $2)
Road or waterway entrance
The temple has a pair of entrances. The route enters through a beautiful gateway with a round stupa atop it. In earlier years, access to the Mekong river served as the primary entrance. The King entered through this door by boat from the Royal Palace. A long, wide staircase climbs from the Mekong river to the temple, where two sizable white lions protect the premises near the top.
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Outstanding structures of Wat Xieng Thong – Laos
Any temple in Laos has a Sim, which is the main shrine hall. Wat Xieng Thong’s Sim combines nine cascading roofs embellished with opulent splendor. One of the main features of the building is its intricate variety of arching roofs.
The Dok So Fa, tiny pagodas coated in gold that loop upward to the sky, adorn the middle of the roof. The Sim’s inside is also decorated with gold stenciling. Inside, many gold-on-black stencils tell the King Chanthaphanith tale and Jataka tales from Buddhist cosmology.
The exterior of the Sim’s rear wall is covered in a mosaic that shows a fabled flaming tree. During the Festival of Lights, when the Sim gets decked with Khom Fai Dao, star-shaped lanterns are made of bamboo and mulberry paper. This scene is adorable when the candlelight from the lantern shimmers the image of plants and animals.
The Chapel of Standing Buddha
The Chapel of the Buddha locates next to the Sim. Its pediment is ornamented with two Kinnaree, a mythical hybrid of a human and a bird, and bright glass mosaics depicting floral patterns. A tiny pagoda occupies the center of the roof, while Chofahs finials representing the mythical Naga snake said to safeguard Buddhism decorate the top extremities.
The little chapel’s inside walls are crimson and decorated with gold stenciling. Its doors are carved and gilded a giant standing Buddha figure on the chapel’s rear wall. The bronze, gilded figure is holding the courageous Abhaya mudra.
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The Chapelle Rouge, or red chapel, is located behind the Standing Buddha Chapel. Mosaics in various colors with a pink backdrop cover its outside walls. The mosaics depict the Heavens in the top portion and the Earth with dwellings and people going about their everyday lives in the lower part.
The reclining Buddha inside this building is one of Laos’s most remarkable sculptures in bronze. They were developed in the 1950s to mark the 2,500-year anniversary of the Buddha achieving Nirvana.
The chapel’s interior is embellished with gold stencils on either crimson or black walls. The outside is wrapped in a red stucco inlaid with vibrantly colored glass mosaics and countless little gold Buddhas depicting the Savatti miracle connected to the walls. In addition to ethereal religious pictures placed higher on the walls, the mosaics depict typical village life.
The Chariot Hall
The Chariot Hall, also known as the Royal Funerary Chariot Hall, is a somewhat more modern architecture that houses King Sisavang Vong’s funeral. The two-tiered ceiling of this classically designed hall is embellished with Naga finials. The façade’s exquisite carved and gilded teak wood panels show floral themes and images from the Lao rendition of the Ramayana, the Phra Lak Phra Lam.
Glass mosaics and gold stenciling on red lacquer embellish the interior walls. There are several Buddha statues from the early 19th century along the walls. The hall houses the gilded, elaborately carved, and front-decorated wooden burial vehicle of King Sisavang Vong.
Frequently asked questions about Wat Xieng Thong (FAQs)
- Where is Wat Xieng Thong?
Wat Xieng Thong ( Temple of the Golden City) was built in 1559 at Laos's Luang Phrabang Peninsula's northernmost point. One of the most notable monasteries in Laos, Wat Xieng Thong, is still a crucial reminder of the nation's religious, regal, and artistic traditions.
- Travel advice for Wat Xieng Thong
Follow the dress code at the religious site: You have to dress up respectively by covering up your back and below your knees, too. Remember to remove your shoes or hat before entering the Wat. Show respect to novices and monks. Do not touch antiquities, and keep your affections private.