- History of Pha That Luang Temple
- Our advice for a good visit of Pha That Luang temple
- - The best time to visit Pha That Luang Temple
- - That Luang Festival
- What to do when you visit Pha That Luang temple?
- - The exterior of Pha That Luang temple
- - The interior of Pha That Luang Temple
- How much is a ticket to Pha That Luang Temple?
- Are there guided tours of the Pha That Luang temple?
- Opening hours of the Pha That Luang temple in Vientiane
- How to get to Pha That Luang Temple in Vientiane?
- - Where to park near the Pha That Luang temple?
- Where to stay near the Pha That Luang temple in Vientiane ?
Are you coming to Laos soon? Then don't miss to visit the Pha That Luang temple in Vientiane!
Visiting the Pha That Luang temple is a must if you go to Laos. Symbol of the city of Vientiane, the Pha That Luang is a huge golden stupa whose origins date back to the year 1566. The monument is truly covered with gold. After all, this place is one of the most important places in Buddhism. It is also a monument of national pride, so much so that it appears on the coat of arms of Laos and its banknotes.
Would you like to visit the Pha That Luang temple in Vientiane? Then you will find in this article all the information you need to discover it. Tips, history and practical information, including rates and schedules, you will know the essential to plan your visit and enjoy it best!
Also read :
Top 10 things to do in Vientiane
The 15 most beautiful places to visit in Laos
History of Pha That Luang Temple
On the temple site was originally a Hindu temple of the 3rd century, built by the Khmer civilization. According to popular belief, the temple housed a relic of the Buddha, a coast brought from India by missionaries of Emperor Ashoka.
On the ruins of this temple, King Setthathirat ordered the construction of a stupa, the first attested one, in 1566. A statue of this king is thus erected in front of the cloister. This construction then intervenes to mark the displacement of the capital of Laos, from Luang Prabang to Vientiane. The purpose of this monument was also to shade the great stupa of Chiang Mai. Its construction took 5 years.
Thereafter, the temple was destroyed and plundered by the Siamese in the 18th century and again in 1827, before being rebuilt by King Anou who also added the cloister. As the years went by, the monument deteriorated again. Around 1901, the École française d'Extrême-Orient restored it, but a majority of Laotians wanted a monument with forms closer to the origins. The current shape of the temple thus dates back to 1930, even if enlargements were made in 2010 for the 450th anniversary of the Laotian capital.
Our advice for a good visit of Pha That Luang temple
You will soon arrive in Vientiane and wish to organize your discoveries? We understand you perfectly, time is precious! To help you to visit the Pha That Luang temple, here are some advices :
The best time to visit Pha That Luang Temple
Visiting the Pha That Luang temple is done all year round. However, we recommend that you come in the morning, as the temperatures are milder then.
It is best to avoid the rainy season from May to September. Nevertheless, the rains are generally short and occur at the end of the day. The temple can still be visited during these months, just make sure to bring a sturdy umbrella or raincoat!
That Luang Festival
Every year, at the first full moon in November, the feast of the stupas takes place. This festival is particularly important at Pha That Luang temple. It takes place over three days and is called the Boun Namatsakane Pha That Luang: "Tribute and devotion to the great stupa". Visiting the Pha That Luang temple at this time of the year will totally change your visit.
On this occasion, thousands of worshippers and many monks from all over the country gather on the site. Numerous processions, offerings and torchlight processions take place. There are also ritual games of tikki, a form of hockey played with bamboo sticks. Some even claim that this game originated in Laos and later came to Burma. It is said to have given birth to the field hockey of the British!
It is highly recommended to visit the Pha That Luang temple during this period. Travellers will then be able to glimpse another facet of Laotian culture and learn more about local customs and habits!
What to do when you visit Pha That Luang temple?
Pha That Luang is a 35-metre high quadrangular stupa, entirely gilded. A stupa is a "Buddhist monument", a non-figurative representation of the Buddha commemorating his death or parinirvana. The stupa is surrounded by a square cloister with two entrances and two pavilions. In the vicinity of the stupa, one can also admire and visit four modern Buddhist temples. Two are located in the west and two in the east.
Visiting the Pha That Luang temple can be divided into two parts: the exterior part and the access to the interior of the site.
The exterior of Pha That Luang Temple
In the outdoor areas of Pha That Luang, you will discover many gardens, temples, monuments, statues and even a small palace. This outdoor area of the site is free and open access.
In this outdoor area, you will of course be able to admire the large golden stupa, but also the Statue of King Sethathirath, the king responsible for the construction of the stupa and the temple. His statue is in the Saysettha gardens, which are on the way from the main entrance to the inside of the stupa.
Around the Pha That Luang temple, you can also contemplate the Wat Neua Thatluang complex. This last one is composed of an impressive palace of Thai style and a charming small temple. With its impressive facade, it is one of the most striking buildings of the site.
To visit the Pha That Luang temple is to discover it at every corner! Outside, in front of the car park, you can also admire a monument dedicated to the Laotian Revolution. All around the temple, travellers can stroll through charming gardens and visit the four outdoor temples. In these temples, monks live and study.
The interior of Pha That Luang Temple
Visiting the Pha That Luang temple is widely accessible to all budgets due to its derisory price. To get inside the temple, you will have to pay a symbolic entrance fee of 1€. The inside is not necessarily more beautiful, impressive or interesting than the outside. You will be able to walk around the cloister, contemplate the remains of sculptures and paintings, and make offerings to different altars at the foot of Pha That Luang.
The interior is particularly worth a visit during the Boun Namatsakane Pha That Luang festival. One can then observe many gifts and flowers decorating the golden stupa, as well as the various altars.
How much is a ticket to Pha That Luang Temple?
Entrance to the Pha That Luang temple will normally cost you 10 000 Laotian kips, or 1€, per person.
Are there guided tours of Pha That Luang Temple?
It is not possible to book an online ticket for the Pha That Luang temple.
You can however opt for a guided tour, as the entrance to the monument is usually included in an excursion. Guided tours of the Pha That Luang temple are numerous. You can book a tour or excursion online. This type of tour usually includes many other must-see monuments and sites in Vientiane such as Wat Si Saket, Wat Phra Keo, the Presidential Palace, Patuxay Monument or Buddha Park.
These excursions usually last half a day. Prices range from 40€ to 80€ per person. These tours are usually conducted in English and with a professional guide. You can also opt for a guided tour with a local guide, professional or not. For these activities, you can contact your hotel or youth hostel on site.
Opening hours of Pha That Luang Temple in Vientiane
Pha That Luang Temple is open every day of the week from 8am to 12pm and from 1pm to 4pm.
Please note: schedules may vary depending on religious ceremonies and the time of year.
How to get to Pha That Luang Temple in Vientiane?
Pha That Luang Temple is located outside of downtown Vientiane. It is located in the Ban Nongbonedistrict about 4 kilometers northeast of the center.
- By Bus: From the Central Bus Station (CBS), you can take line 23 to reach Pha That Luang Temple quickly. Buses run from 6am to 5:30pm and every 30 minutes on average. The bus ticket on this line costs 5,000 Laotian kips (0.5€).
- In tuk tuk: you can also take a tuk-tuk for 50 000 to 60 000 kips (about 5 or 6€).
Where to park near Pha That Luang Temple?
Do you have a scooter or other vehicle that you have rented? Then you should know that you will have no trouble parking near Pha That Luang Temple. In front of the monument, you will find a relatively guarded parking lot where you can park your scooter for a small fee.
Where to stay near Pha That Luang temple in Vientiane?
Lodging around the Pha That Luang temple is not necessarily interesting for a traveler passing through Vientiane. We rather recommend you to find an accommodation in the city center of the capital. In this area, you will find many youth hostels and hotels.
The area also has many cafes and restaurants, as well as travel agencies to prepare the continuation of your Asian escapades. The city centre is also home to many French-style buildings, charming Buddhist temples, cultural tours and night markets.
You can also choose to stay in a private home along Lane Xang Avenue, nicknamed the "Champs-Elysees" of Vientiane. It is in this "district" that you will find the Presidential Palace and the Patuxai, a beautiful triumphal arch. You will also find many restaurants, cafes and shops.
Read also: In which district to stay in Vientiane?