This grand riverside temple has been in near-continuous use since its construction in 1559 CE. Almost 500 years on, Wat Xieng Thong remains Luang Prabang’s most distinguished Buddhist structure: serving as the coronation venue for Lao Kings till the monarchy’s end in the 20th century, and still the central focus of Buddhist ceremonies in the former royal town.
Wat Xieng Thong’s architecture represents the ultimate model for Luang Prabang temple design: the central prayer hall’s graceful three-tiered roof topped by an ornament called a dok so faa, a smaller “red temple” emblazoned with mosaics of Lao daily life, and decorations of gold stencil work on black lacquer almost everywhere.
The gate in front of the river was formerly Wat Xieng Thong’s main entrance—where the King would disembark from his barge, and walk up to enter—but two other entrances allow access to visitors coming in from the Luang Prabang town center. An entrance fee of LAK 20,000 will be charged upon entry.