With a history going back more than 70,000 years, many types of builder have left their legacy in Laos. From ancient religious sites to French colonial quarters and quirky modern makers, there’s an icon for anybody.
Pha That Luang, ‘Great Stupa’, is a gold-covered large Buddhist stupa in the centre of the city of Vientiane.
Since its initial establishment, suggested to be in the 3rd century, the stupa has undergone several reconstructions as recently as the 1930s due to foreign invasions of the area. It is generally regarded as the most important national monument in Laos and a national symbol.
The Vat Phou (or Wat Phou) temple complex is one of Southeast Asia’s best examples of both early and classic Khmer architecture dating from the 7th to 12th centuries.
This UNESCO World Heritage Site includes the ancient city of Shestrapura and many little known but interesting archeological sites along the banks of the Mekong River. There are also many fine examples of traditional Lao homes and buildings from the colonial period. If you are in Champasack during February, don’t miss the Vat Phou Festival.
The memorial monument, Patuxay, was built in 1957 and is perhaps the most prominent landmark in the city. It is situated on Lanexang Avenue.
While the arc de Triomphe in Paris inspired the architecture, the design incorporates typical Lao motifs including “Kinnaly”, a mythical bird woman. Energetic visitors can climb to the top of the monument, which reveals an excellent panoramic view of the city.
This 29 meter high golden stupa is one of the most sacred sites in Laos.
Built at the same time as That Inhang Stupa in Savannakhet and That Phanom in Thailand, these were constructed in the Sikhottabong Empire for keeping the bones of Lord Buddha. At first, it was bulit by King Nanthasene for King Soummitham then it was restored by King Saysetthathirath in the 16th Century.
The festival is performed on the third month of the lunar calendar.
How to get there: It is located along the bank of the Mekong River 6 kilometers from Thakhaek.
Mount Phou Si
Mount Phou Si, also written Mount Phu Si, is a 100 m high hill in the centre of the old town of Luang Prabang. It lies in the heart of the old town peninsula and is bordered on one side by the Mekong River and on the other side by the Nam Khan River. The hill is a local religious site, and houses are several Buddhist shrines.
Halfway up the hill, overlooking the Nam Khan is Vat Tham Phou Si, a Buddhist temple. At the summit of the hill, overlooking the town and surrounding countryside, is Vat Chom Si, which is also a Buddhist temple and is a tourist highlight of Luang Prabang.
Buddha Park is a famous sculpture park with more than 200 religious statues, including a huge 40-metre high reclining Buddha image. The entrance is crafted to look like a demon’s mouth (about three metres high) with a stone ladder inside leading to a bird’s eye view of the entire Xieng Kuan Park.
It was built in 1958 by Luang Pu Bunleua Sulilat, a monk who studied both Buddhism and Hinduism. This explains why his park is full not only of Buddha images but also of Hindu gods as well as demons and animals from both beliefs. The most outstanding ones include Indra, the king of Hindu gods riding the three-headed elephant (aka Erawan and Airavata), a four-armed deity sitting on a horse and an artistic deity with 12 faces and many hands, each holding interesting objects. They are all equally impressive not only because of their enormous size but because they are full of interesting details and interesting motifs.
This beautiful, colourful temple is located in a pond, to prevent termites from eating the holy manuscripts stored inside.
A beautiful spot in Salavan. Very colourful paintings inside the temple depicting age old stories. An original wooden building probably used as a meeting place or temples in the beginning. A must see. – TripAdvisor