Luang Prabang Wat Xieng Thong Golden City Temple Laos

Wat Xieng Thong Temple in Luang Prabang

Wat Xieng Thong Temple or the Golden City Temple is one of the most important temples in the entire Laos. This magnificent temple is is located in the UNESCO World Heritage Town of Luang Prabang and was built around the year 1560 by King Setthathirat, the ruler of Laos back then. The temple has many names like Xieng Thong Ratsavoravihanh or Volavihan the "Golden City or Golden Tree Monastery". But most would call this place Wat Xieng Thong Temple.

Stucco Entrance to Wat Xieng Thong Temple

Wat Xieng Thong Temple is also located in the town area so getting here is a casual walk from the main street of Luang Prabang. There is a entry fee of KIP 5,000 (US$0.50) and you pay at the temple entrance.
Wat Xieng Thong Temple Video

Wat Xieng Thong Temple - Chariot Chapel

As you walk in after paying the entrance fees, you will see one of the temple buildings in the compound on your left which is actually a Chariot Chapel which houses the Royal Funeral Chariot and replicas of caskets and Buddha statues. The entire building looks solid gold from afar but when you get close you will see intricate carvings all painted in gold.

Funeral Chariot with Naga Heads

Inside the Chariot Chapel you will see the Lao Royal Funeral Chariot which carries the replica casket of King Sisavong Vang in 1960. Also on the carriage was the Kings wife and brothers casket. This chariot is on wheels ad has a 5 headed Naga (Dragon) in the front.

Gold Buddhist figurines are placed around wrapped in orange cloth

Wat Xieng Thong Temple - Dragon heads that lead the chariot

A side view of the Dragons or Nagas that lead the funeral chariot look very impressive. They are hand carved and painted in bright gold. The workmanship for these are immaculate.

The main temple, Wat Xieng Thong or The Golden City Temple lies to the back of the compound and from the outside, it looks a little run down. After all, it was built in the 16th century and only refurbished and remodeled in the 1960s.

Inside Wat Xieng Thong Temple Video

The side entrance of Wat Xieng Thong temple

The beauty about Wat Xieng Thong temple is that the ancient Lao architecture involved here is amazing. Roof eaves that are low slung, gold leaf designs throughout, intricate traditional wood carvings and amazing mosaic work make the temple very different from most others.

The back of Wat Xieng Thong temple

Wat Xieng Thong's back portion with the Buddhist Tree Of Life was crafted in the 1960s by skilled Lao mosaic crafters. It goes all the way up the main temple back wall to about 30 feet high.

Buddhist Mosaic Tree Of Life

On looking closely, the skill involved to make this Buddhist Tree Of Life is simply amazing. Thousands of mosaics in various colours were used carefully in designing this.

A monk walks pass the back of Wat Xieng Thong's Tree Of Life

A Buddhist Tree Of Life in gold paint

Wat Xieng Thong Temple - Smaller Wat

Around the temple grounds you will come across various smaller Wats or chapels and some of them are beautifully decorated, painted and crafted. A lot of work has gone into these to make them one of Laos most beautiful temples. Occasionally you will see the local monks from the temple and some of them may even approach you and ask you where you are from in English. I was pretty surprised when one of the child monks about 14 years old, approached me and asked me which country did I come from in good English.

My conclusion to Wat Xieng Thong Golden City Temple - A must visit when in Luang Prabang. Easy going pace and not far from the main town.

For a detailed history read, visit the websites for Wat Xieng Thong Temple or Golden City Temple

My other Laos and Luang Prabang blog postings:

Luang Prabang Night Market
Luang Prabang Town Part 1
Whisky Village in Luang Prabang
Pak Ou Buddha Caves in Luang Prabang
Phu Si Hill in Luang Prabang

Talat Sao Morning Market in Vientiane
Food in Vientiane
Patuxai Arch in Vientiane
That Luang Stupa (Golden Stupa) in Vientiane
Buddha Park (Xieng Khuan) in Vientiane

~ David Jr