When in Laos: Pha That Luang

Seeing Pha That Luang was a highlight of my short trip to Vientiane. Also known as the Great Sacred Stupa, it is the main religious monument in the capital for Buddhists who believe that it contains relics (a breastbone) of Buddha.


It is also a national symbol of Laos. In fact, an image of the Pha That Luang is depicted in their banknotes. It goes to show that it is an attraction not only for its size and color but also for its national significance.
I consider Pha That Luang as a good addition to my collection of photos of huge stupas. I have always been curious about Buddhism and the architecture wrapped around it as a traveler living in a country where majority are Roman Catholics and Muslims.

The stupa is surrounded by numerous statues of Buddha.
But a distinct statue represents the Buddha image of King Jayavarman VII, a Khmer ruler who expanded his reign from Cambodia to Laos. He is highly respected by the Buddhists as he converted the Khmer empire to Buddhism.


Aside from the stupa, there are other interesting structures nearby. A golden reclining Buddha can be found next to it. The structure may not be as big as Wat Pho in Thailand, but it looks good in pictures.



On one side is a temple called Wat Neua Thatluang. It has a beautiful exterior painted in striking yellow and red. I personally like the sophistication of the roofs and doors. It is carpeted inside with several Buddha images as well. 

There is a smaller temple beside Wat Neua Thaluang. The structure somehow resembles the style of temples in Thailand.
A small garden called Saysettha Gardens displays the statue of King Setthathirath, an important leader in Lao history who defended the land from the Burmese military.
Pha That Luang was a bit far from the city center where I stayed at. I paid 50,000 kip (6 USD) for a one-way tuktuk ride to the stupa. On my way back, I was able to bargain it down to 40,000 kip (5 USD). It’s better to share a ride with others (tuktuks in Vientiane can carry up to six passengers) to cut down the price.
It is a huge complex, so better spare one to two hours to walk around and explore everything. It opens at 8:00am daily, temporarily closes at noon, and opens again from 1:00pm to 4:00pm.
Entrance fee is 5,000 kip (0.60 USD). Thai baht is also accepted. Dress code is observed (knees and elbows must not be exposed) as sign of respect to this religious Buddhist structure.



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