Vientiane, Laos



Temples & Stupas

Some temples charge an entry fee of 2,000 kip for Lao nationals and 5,000 kip for foreigners. The monks of those that don’t charge a fee will be grateful for a small donation in the box. Most open from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. with a noon lunch break. There are many Buddhist temples all over Vientiane but it must be said that if you are out to admire temples, Luang Prabang is the place to go.
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Wat Si Saket
Corner of Thanon Lane Xang and Thanon Setthathirat. Admission: 5,000 kip for foreigners.
The oldest standing temple in Vientiane, 
Wat Si Saket is signposted as Sisaket Museum. Probably the oldest standing temple in Vientiane and among the most atmospheric. Built in 1818 by Chao Anou in the Bangkok-style and hence left unsacked when much of Vientiane was razed in a Siamese raid in 1828. Within the cloister walls are hundreds of niches housing large and small Buddha images made of wood, stone, silver and bronze. In the centre of the courtyard is a five-tier-roofed sim (ordination hall) housing yet more Buddha niches with its beautiful but fading murals of Buddha's past lives.

Wat Si Saket by Jpatokal

Hophakaew Museum
Thanon Setthathirat (opposite Wat Si Saket). Admission: 5,000 kip for foreigners.
An elegant and majestic structure, King Setthathirat's former royal temple, which housed the magical Emerald Buddha after it was taken from Lanna (present day Chiang Mai in Thailand). The Siamese took it back in 1779 - the image is now housed in Bangkok at Wat Phra Kaew. The present structure is a 1942 reconstruction and the temple no longer operates and the interior has been turned into a small jumbled museum housing Buddha images - look out for the beautiful tall, lithe, long-armed Buddha in the hands-down "calling for rain" pose.

Pha That Luang
Thanon That Luang (2 km east from Patuxai). Admission: 5,000 kip for foreigners. 
That Luang is a three-layered gilded stupa and is the national symbol of Laos as well as the most important religious monument in the country. The current version dates from 1566, although it has been ransacked and renovated numerous times since then. Accessing the inner courtyard gives you a slightly closer view of the stupa, and lots of Buddha statues. Vientiane's most important festival, Bun That Luang, is held here in November on the night of the full moon.

Pha That Luang by Tevaprapas Makklay

Wat Si Muang
Between Thanons Setthatirat and Samsenthai (about 1km east of the city centre). Admission: Free. 
Disney-like atmosphere and gaudy in set-up, one would not think that it's a religious compound. Despite its small size, the temple is very active. Followers believe that lifting the small Buddha statue three times from its cushion means that your prayers or questions will be answered.

Black Stupa (That Dam)
Thanon Bartholomie (off Thanon Samsenthai near the US Embassy). Admission: 
5,000 kip for foreigners. 
The mythical abode of a seven-headed dragon that protects Vientiane. It was renovated in 1995 but still has an attractive patina of age, and is slowly being overgrown again by lush grass vegetation.
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