Laos – Luang Prabang – wats around town

After visiting several wats in Thailand I was now starting to suffer from chronic temple fatigue. However I’m really glad I took the time to visit Wat Xieng Thong as it really is something special.

Built between 1559 and 1560 it is one of the most important monastries in Laos and a repository of traditional culture. Until 1975, when the royal family was deposed, Laotian kings were crowned here.

The main building is the Sǐm (ordination hall).

It’s decorated with multi-coloured glass tiles that glitter in the sun.

On it’s rear gable is a beautiful glass mosaic of the ‘tree of life’ which has become a symbol of the city.

Other decorations include carved gilded wooden doors depicting scenes from Buddha’s life.

Some black outer walls are decorated with a gold overlay.

A statue of Buddha resides inside.

There are several Stupas (prayer mounds) around the compound.

Next to it are three small chapels called Hŏr.

Other glass mosaics run around the sides of the Red Chapel.

Over the way is another hall called the Hóhng Kép Mîen where the ceremonial funeral carriage for Laotian royalty is kept.

It’s decorated with red-tongued nagas (river serpents).

More mosaics cover the walls.

I particularly love this tree with heart-shaped leaves.

Down the road is Wat Sensoukaram aka Wat Sene which was built in 1718.

It’s nicknamed the ‘Red Temple’ due to its red facade overlaid with gold.

It’s not as beautiful as Wat Xieng Thong but it has a few fun details.

The outbuildings house a standing Buddha, a chapel, a bell and drum tower, and a couple of ceremonial boats.

A short distance away is Wat Siphoutthabath.

It’s fairly unremarkable although it does have some nice carvings on its doors.

The reason to come here though is to climb the ancient staircase up Mount Phousi, a low hill that sits in the middle of Luang Prabang.

It’s not very high but you can get a view of the river and some of the town. Some people say it’s nice to come here to see the sunrise.

At the top is a small shrine built into the rock.

Which is the entrance to a tiny cave.

No doubt a good place for silent meditation.

All this walking about is good for the appetite…

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