Weather :

Timings : Closed on Mondays. 8 AM to 12 PM, 1 PM to 4 PM

Time Required : 1 to 2 hours

Entry Fee : 10000 LAK or 1.65 USD

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Pha That Luang, Vientiane Overview

Pha That Luang or the Great Stupa is a sacred Buddhist site located in the capital city of Vientiane in Laos. This large golden stupa is the most revered religious site in the country. This historical monument is a national icon and is found in the currency of Laos. It is also believed to be the most ancient site in Laos, dating to 307 BC. Pha That Luang is one of the must-visit top attractions for tourists visiting Vientiane.

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Best time to visit

The best time to visit Pha That Luang is in the early morning or late afternoon when the weather is pleasant.

Tips

  • It is expected that tourists dress appropriately while visiting a religious monument or a Buddhist temple or a Stupa.
  • Women need to cover their shoulder at all times and wear knee-length attire.
  • Sleeveless shirts and shorts are not also allowed for both men and women. The rules are strictly followed, and you might be denied entry by the guards if you fail to obey them.
  • You also need to take off your shoes, hat and sunglasses before entering the temple premises.

Pha That Luang History & Significance

The history of Pha That Luang dates back to the 3rd century. It is believed that a few monks sent by the Indian emperor Ashoka the great to spread Buddhism erected a stupa. The stupa was constructed here to enshrine a breast bone of Buddha, a sacred relic sent by the King. In the 12th century, the greatest Khmer King Jayavarman VII, who further propagated Buddhism built a temple around this stupa, although none of the structure remains now. 

The current version of Pha That Luang was built in 1566 by King Setthathirath after he shifted his capital of Lan Xang Kingdom to Vientiane in Laos from Luang Prabang. The stupa had a large gold leaf at the top, and the surrounding temples were decorated with gold and other precious stones. In 1828 invasion by the Siamese army, the stupa was plundered and eventually suffered massive damage. The French built the present version during their occupation in the 1930s.

Architecture

The outer area of the temple around the stupa consists of many monasteries with windows. There are some galleries here housing many sculptures, statues of Buddha and paintings. 

Four entrances are leading to the stupa. The entry gate is called Haw Wai, which includes a double-roof structure with an image of Buddha. The stupa of Pha That Luang has a three-level structure. The first level contains many sema stones or sacred stones. The second level contains 30 small stupas and many holy rocks. The topmost layer is the golden dome in the form of an elongated lotus bud with petals protruding on all sides.

Temples and structures around Pha That Luang

There are many structures around the sacred site of Pha That Luang. The most important among them are four temples that were constructed in the 16th century on all four sides. Only two of them remain now, Wat That Luang Ta in the south and Wat That Luang Neua in the north, which is the residence of the head monk of Laos Buddhism. There is a statue of King Jayavarman VII, the Khmer emperor who is credited with introducing Buddhism to Laos. There are many small stupas, shrines and a reclining Buddha along with some pavilions.

Recently, a large Buddhist convention hall was opened, which is built in Laos-style of architecture and magnificently decorated in paintings and carvings in gold with multi-tiered roofs.

Pha That Luang Festival

Boun That Luang or Pha That Luang Festival is the largest religious festival of the country that takes place here. It happens on the full moon day of the 12th month in Buddhist Lunar calendar, usually in October or November. Boun That Luang festival starts with a procession called Phasat Pheung at Wat Si Muang temple, during which wax candles are held. In this 3-day festival, thousands of people participate gathering at this temple, which is decorated and lit in the night. Prayers are held many times a day, during which people offer alms to the monks. There are stalls, games, fun events, shops selling street food and other entertainment activities that happen during this carnival at this place every year.

How To Reach Pha That Luang

Pha That Luang is located 4km from the city centre of Vientiane. The best way to reach is by hiring a Tuk-Tuk. It costs about 4 USD for a round trip. You can also rent a motorbike for about 12 to 14 USD per day, or you can get there by bike(bicycle) which cost about 3 to 4 USD for rent per day.

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