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.

Once inside, you will see historic hand painted pieces of art, which will excite all art history lovers. As you walk around the temple you will find a plethora of Buddha statues, some of which have sadly been damaged. The grounds also hold several life size statues of the Buddha dressed in beautifully coloured saffron robes.

As you make your way around the temple you will see many symbols and references that refer back to the Lao culture and their identity as a people, which is why it has become such a iconic symbol for the country.

How to get there

If you are staying in Vientiane, getting to and from Phat That Luang is very easy. You can choose to walk, grab a tuk tuk, or go along with a tour group. Everybody will know where it is and it is easy to get to by foot with a map. It is located on That Luang road.

When is the best time to visit?

The Boun That Luang Festival is held every November in the capital of Vientiane, and attracts thousands of locals and tourists from all neighbouring countries. The festival lasts for three days and nights and is considered the holiest Buddhist holiday in Laos.

The main event of each Boun That Luang Festival is held at the temple, where everyone is allowed to pray and give their respect to the stupa while enjoying the colourful parades, live music, and various religious ceremonies.

Phat That Luang 1
Palace buildings of Wat Neua That Luang within the precincts near the main Pha That Luang stupa
The decorated doorways of Wat Neua That Luang with a little artistic licence in the colour processing :)
The decorated doorways of Wat Neua That Luang with a little artistic licence in the colour processing 🙂

 

Recommended further reading before visiting:

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