Tag Archives: Vientiane

Visiting Pha That Luang in Vientiane

Pha That Luang in its current state consists of a lot of restorations as recently as the 1930s, but the original site dates back to the 3rd Century
Pha That Luang in its current state consists of a lot of restorations as recently as the 1930s, but the original site dates back to the 3rd Century

Pha That Luang is a Buddhist stupa located just 5km from the centre of Vientiane in Laos.

It is believed that the current principal stupa of Pha That Luang was built in the 1566 century and to this day is the national symbol of Laos. Pha That Luang was built when King Setthathirat decided to move the capital of Laos from Luang Prabang to Vientiane, and ordered the construction of a magnificent stupa. He believed that creating Pha That Luang would help to achieve his own enlightenment.

Architecture

The main stupa was designed to resemble a pyramid and is protected by 30 more smaller stupas at the base. The stupa is around 69 meters long and approximately 45 meters high: builders were said to have used a thousand pounds of gold leaf in weight to decorate it.

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Vientiane for the Cultured Traveller: Recommended 1st-Day Schedule

Pha That Luang in Vientiane. Photo via Wikimedia by Aaron Smith
Pha That Luang in Vientiane. Photo via Wikimedia by Aaron Smith

Visiting Vientiane might be first a bit of a shock when arriving from cities like Bangkok or Hanoi – not in terms of traffic or crowds, but more because of its refreshingly laid back atmosphere!

Unlike most of the Southeast Asian capitals, Vientiane remains far away from the atmosphere of an overcrowded city. A population of just close to 800,000 citizens – in comparison to multi-millions in Bangkok for example, speaks for itself.

Besides of the population, what else makes Vientiane different? Due to its size, it is quite easy to do sightseeing and navigate yourself around the city, which is even possible by feet or your own bike.

Let’s dive into a city which still keeps the charme of French colonial times, blended with Southeast Asian hospitality – Vientiane!

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Highlights of Buddhist Sites in Vientiane, Laos

Wat That Luang
Open: Daily from 08:00-12:00 and 13:00-16:00
Entrance fee: 5000 Kip per person, Laotians: 2000 Kip per person
Address:
That Luang Road

Pha That Luang is the most sacred monument in Laos as it is believed that the shrine houses a breastbone of Buddha. A local legend says that the original temple has been built around the 3rd century by an Indian missionary who brought the relict of Buddha to Laos. The current structure however was built by King Setthathirat in 1566 on the site of a 13th century Khmer temple ruin. It contains an impressive 45m high stupa.

Vientiane’s most important festival ‘Boun That Luang’ is held here in November on the night of the full moon to pay respect to the stupa and to enjoy the colourful event that includes parades, live music and religious ceremonies.

Note: there are two temples beside Pha That Luang, the one being Wat That Luang Neua to the north and Wat That Luang Tai to the south.

Pha_That_Luang_-_Vientiane_(Laos)_I
Wat That Luang. Photo via Wikimedia by Nikopol

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