"Vat Xieng Thong" Luang Prabang Things to Do Tip by Willettsworld

Luang Prabang Things to Do: 461 reviews and 1,015 photos

Constructed in 1560 by king Setthathirat, Vat Xieng Thong is considered to be the most historically significant and magnificent of Luang Prabang's many temples. Set near the confluence of the Mekong and Khan rivers, with its sweeping two-tiered roof and elaborately decorated interior columns, Vat Xieng Thong is considered to be an outstanding example of the classic Luang Prabang style.

The site of royal coronations and the centrepiece of many festivals, it was, for a time, the end point of journeys to Luang Prabang. Visitors would be received at Wat Xieng Maen on the east bank of the Mekong and would then be shuttled across by boat to Wat Xieng Thong.

The compound is dominated by the central sim, but there's around twenty other structures within the compound, including many stupas, a drum tower, monk quarters, a library and a chapel. This chapel (known as the Red Chapel by the French) contains an outstanding reclining Buddha which is believed to date back to the wat's original construction.

Upon the rear of the sim you'll notice the depiction of a large tree - this relates to a legend surrounding the foundation of the temple. The story holds that two hermits settled on the temple's present location, placing it near a large flame tree and also near the home of the nagas which lay at the junction of the two rivers.

A historical quirk spared the temple during the Black Flag invasion. While many of Luang Prabang's temples were badly damaged or razed, the temple was spared sacking because the leader of the invasion, Deo Van Tri, spent time as a novice monk here when he was a young man.

Admission: 20,000 kip.

Review Helpfulness: 2.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Written Apr 22, 2010
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