A young Buddhist monk stands in front of a stone temple in Luang Prabang, Laos

Luang Prabang Temple Tour: Exploring Buddhism in Laos



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Between trips to the night market and Kwang Xi Waterfall during the day, Steve and I checked out several of the many historic buddhist temples (wats) that are in Luang Prabang. We also had a chance to visit the Luang Prabang Museum housed within the old Royal Palace. Along the way, we even made friends with a few of the buddhist monks praying at the wats as they have for centuries.

  • Luang Prabang Buddhist Temples, Laos - October 2004

    Luang Prabang Buddhist Temples, Laos - October 2004
    Wat Xieng Thong was one of the first wats we visited when we arrived in Luang Prabang. The gold buildings sit in the shade of the hillock overlooking the city upon which Wat Phou Si perches.

  • Luang Prabang Buddhist Temples, Laos - October 2004

    Luang Prabang Buddhist Temples, Laos - October 2004
    Near the entrance to Wat Phou Si is a well tended botanical garden.

  • Luang Prabang Buddhist Temples, Laos - October 2004

    Luang Prabang Buddhist Temples, Laos - October 2004
    The Luang Prabang Museum is housed in the former Royal Palace, and still has a regal feel about it.

  • Luang Prabang Buddhist Temples, Laos - October 2004

    Luang Prabang Buddhist Temples, Laos - October 2004
    There is also a Wat located just a short walk from the Luang Prabang Museum and inside the grounds of the Royal Palace.

  • Luang Prabang Buddhist Temples, Laos - October 2004

    Luang Prabang Buddhist Temples, Laos - October 2004
    The dragons on guard here are a little more imposing than the one at Wat Phou Si.

  • Luang Prabang Buddhist Temples, Laos - October 2004

    Luang Prabang Buddhist Temples, Laos - October 2004
    I'd hate to get attacked by this seven headed specimen.

  • Luang Prabang Buddhist Temples, Laos - October 2004

    Luang Prabang Buddhist Temples, Laos - October 2004
    Inside the Wat at the Luang Prabang museum the walls are painted red and edged with gold leaf and intricate carvings.

  • Luang Prabang Buddhist Temples, Laos - October 2004

    Luang Prabang Buddhist Temples, Laos - October 2004
    This is a view looking straight up at the ceiling.

  • Luang Prabang Buddhist Temples, Laos - October 2004

    Luang Prabang Buddhist Temples, Laos - October 2004
    You can see the Royal Palace and Luang Prabang Museum nearby from the front steps of the Wat.

  • Luang Prabang Buddhist Temples, Laos - October 2004

    Luang Prabang Buddhist Temples, Laos - October 2004
    At the Visounnarath Temple, this monk was cutting the grass with this lawnmower sporting bicycle tires.

  • Luang Prabang Buddhist Temples, Laos - October 2004

    Luang Prabang Buddhist Temples, Laos - October 2004
    Steve and I met Bounpheng Vat, a young buddhist monk studying at Visounnarath Temple.

  • Luang Prabang Buddhist Temples, Laos - October 2004

    Luang Prabang Buddhist Temples, Laos - October 2004
    The columns of the buildings at Wat Xieng Thong are stenciled with artwork depicting the life of the Buddha.

  • Luang Prabang Buddhist Temples, Laos - October 2004

    Luang Prabang Buddhist Temples, Laos - October 2004
    Bounpheng and his friend were really friendly and told us about life in Luang Prabang. The stray dog seemed interested in what we were talking about, or else he just wanted some free snacks.

  • Luang Prabang Buddhist Temples, Laos - October 2004

    Luang Prabang Buddhist Temples, Laos - October 2004
    Bounpheng asked if we could take a photo of him to send back to him later.

  • Luang Prabang Buddhist Temples, Laos - October 2004

    Luang Prabang Buddhist Temples, Laos - October 2004
    Photo by Steve Iams.

  • Luang Prabang Buddhist Temples, Laos - October 2004

    Luang Prabang Buddhist Temples, Laos - October 2004
    Steve and I continued on from our chat with Bounpheng at the Visounnarath Temple and came across this Wat, but I forgot to write down the name of it.

  • Luang Prabang Buddhist Temples, Laos - October 2004

    Luang Prabang Buddhist Temples, Laos - October 2004
    The walls of the Wat are covered in painted frescoes depicting scenes from the life of the Buddha.

  • Luang Prabang Buddhist Temples, Laos - October 2004

    Luang Prabang Buddhist Temples, Laos - October 2004
    The long hallway here is lined with delicately carved red and gold columns.

  • Luang Prabang Buddhist Temples, Laos - October 2004

    Luang Prabang Buddhist Temples, Laos - October 2004
    The walls are covered in carvings that contained more scenes from the life of the Buddha.

  • Luang Prabang Buddhist Temples, Laos - October 2004

    Luang Prabang Buddhist Temples, Laos - October 2004
    The monks in Luang Prabang were really friendly, and seemed eager to chat with us.

  • Luang Prabang Buddhist Temples, Laos - October 2004

    Luang Prabang Buddhist Temples, Laos - October 2004
    As we left Luang Prabang, the foggy morning was a nice backdrop to the Royal Palace.

  • Luang Prabang Buddhist Temples, Laos - October 2004

    Luang Prabang Buddhist Temples, Laos - October 2004
    Inside Wat Xieng Thong it is peaceful and quiet, with this golden image of the Buddha serenely watching.

  • Luang Prabang Buddhist Temples, Laos - October 2004

    Luang Prabang Buddhist Temples, Laos - October 2004
    Wat Phou Si overlooks the city of Luang Prabang and is reached by climbing a series of steep stone stairways and winding dirt paths. This dragon sits coiled at the foot of these stairs to repel evil doers.

  • Luang Prabang Buddhist Temples, Laos - October 2004

    Luang Prabang Buddhist Temples, Laos - October 2004
    Located in the shade of a rocky cliff, we found this image of the reclining Buddha at Wat Phou Si (click here for a close up view of the buddha).

  • Luang Prabang Buddhist Temples, Laos - October 2004

    Luang Prabang Buddhist Temples, Laos - October 2004
    A heavy brass bell hangs at the top of Wat Phou Si.

  • Luang Prabang Buddhist Temples, Laos - October 2004

    Luang Prabang Buddhist Temples, Laos - October 2004
    There is also an old artillery battery left behind by the Russians.

  • Luang Prabang Buddhist Temples, Laos - October 2004

    Luang Prabang Buddhist Temples, Laos - October 2004
    Wat Phou Si is brightly painted with these intensely red columns covering the windows.

  • Luang Prabang Buddhist Temples, Laos - October 2004

    Luang Prabang Buddhist Temples, Laos - October 2004
    Steve and I took a break from climbing down the stairs from Wat Phou Si to take a photo.