Other Temples in Luang Prabang

In the north-eastern corner of town near the meeting of the Nam Khan and the Mekong River is a string of historic, still active tem pies. Facing Thanon Sakkalin just northeast of Villa Santi (see Places to Stay later in this section) is Wat Saen (100,000 Temple) a Thai-style wat built in 1718 and restored in 1932 and 1957. The name reportedly refers to its founding on an initial 100,000 kip donation. The abbot, Ajahn Kharnjan, who was ordained here in 1940, is one of the most revered monks in Luang Prabang, perhaps in all of Laos. Behind Villa Santi near the river road, the simple Wat Nong Sikhunmeuang was built in 1729, burned in 1774 and rebuilt in 1804.

South-west of Villa Santi and set back off the street is Wat Pa Phal, whose classic Thai-Lao fresco over the gilded and carved wooden facade is at least 100 years old; the picture depicts scenes from everyday Lao life from the era in which it was painted.

Wat Pha Mahathat, two wats south-west of the Phousy Hotel, is named for a venerable Lanna-style thaat erected in 1548. The sim in front - built in 1910 - is quite ornate, with carved wooden windows and portico, rosette-gilded pillars exterior stories of the Buddha's past lives relief’s and a roof in the Luang Prabang style lined with temple bells. The massive nagas along the steps, also Lanna in style, resemble those at Wat Phra That Doi Suthep in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

An easy 3km walk or bicycle ride northeast of town is Wat Pa Phon Phao (open 8am-10am & 1pm - 4.30pm daily), a forest meditation wat famous for the teachings of Ajahn Saisamut. Saisamut died in 1992 and his funeral was the largest and most well attended monk's funeral Laos has seen in decades. The temple's Santi Chedi (Peace Pagoda), built in 1988, has become something of a tourist attraction. This large yellow stupa contains three floors inside plus an outside terrace near the top with a view of the surrounding plains. The inside walls are painted with all manner of Buddhist stories and moral admonitions.

On the Mekong River near the northwestern end of. Thanon Phu Vao is a modem Vietnamese - Lao temple, Wat Pha Baht Tai The temple itself is rather garish but be- hind the temple is a shady terrace overlooking the Mekong on a hot afternoon this is a good place to cool off and watch the sunset.