Temples around Vientiane play a huge role in the daily lives of many locals. Lao people are extremely religious and they take their devotions very seriously. The Wat That Luang Neua, the Wai Onteu, the Wat Si Muang and other temples of Vientiane are just some of the most visited sites in the capital city. Here are some of the others:
- Wat Si Muang – Although not too big, the Wat Si Muang is the most visited temple in the capital. The temple is built on the Lak Meuang or the city pillar, which is known to be the home of the spirit that guards the city. Many people come to the temple to pray or be blessed by resident monks as it is known to give good luck and fortune to many.
- Wat That Luang Neua and Wat That Luang Tai – The That Luang Stupa is known to be the most important national monument of the country as it represents both the Lao sovereignty and the Buddhist religion. The stupa was originally built with 4 wats that surround each of its sides. Today, however, only two temples remain: the Wat Thay Luang Tai and the Wat That Luang Neua Temple. Both temples are still relatively active as many pilgrims continue to visit them.
- Wat Onteu – This auspicious temple is named after the huge bronze Buddha image that is found inside the temple. Four other temples surround the Wat Onteu and help create a tranquil atmosphere perfect for meditation. Many monks visit the temple to study as it also makes an ideal place to chat with novices.
- Wat Inpeng – The Wat Inpeng is not only a temple but a historical landmark that represents the Laotian arts and culture. The temple is adorned with a variety of Buddha images, rock sculptures, and rock columns that depict the Khmer and Mon cultures. It has been said that the king of the gods transformed himself into an old wise man to assist with construction. Legend also states that the god transformed himself specifically into an old white monk to help construct the Buddha image. From such stories did the Wat Inpeng get its name, which means “to transform”.
- Wat Mixay – Translated to the “Temple of Victory”, the Wat Mixay was originally built during King Sai Setthathirat I’s reign to celebrate the victory against the Burmese in 1569. Through several reconstructions, its current structure is heavily inspired by Bangkok-style architecture.
- Wat Haisok – Wat Haisok’s five-tiered roof and elegant golden spires are what make this temple a pleasant view to see. Its windows and façade are beautifully carved in wood and gilded multi-headed dragons flank the steps to the temple. Although quite small, Wat Haisok is considered to be one of the most elegant temples in Vientiane.
Many of these temples were destroyed during the Siamese attack in 1828. Fortunately, all mentioned temples were later rebuilt during the 19th and 20th Century. The Wat Inpeng, the Wat Si Muang and other temples in Vientiane surely show how the Buddhist religion is a great part of the Laotian people.