Situated on top of the Phou Si Mountain in Luang Prabang, the Wat Chom Si is visible from most parts of the city. A huge golden stupa looming several hundred meters high above the ground, it is also a famous landmark in the city.
To get to the temple, you have to climb all 328 paved steps of the Phou Si Mountain. At the summit, you’ll see the gold-plated temple. The center tower was flanked on all of its four sides with skeleton spirals winded to form into small towers. On top of the middle tower, a matching skeleton spiral tower rests on its tip. This gilded stupa is the most famous and the most photograph part of the temple.
Inside the Wat Chom Si, various Buddha images in different sizes and forms can be found. There are standing Buddha statues, sitting Buddha images and small images of Buddha all clustered together on a pedestal.
If your plan is to visit all the interesting temples in Luang Prabang, the Wat Chom Si might really turn out to be worth your time. Although the temple is not the most impressive of all temples in Luang Prabang, the breathtaking view it offers of the city from up above definitely sums up every article ever written about Luang Prabang, and the sight is definitely one that you must see: serene and unaffected by the modern global changes. Cocooned by the forest and mountains and far from the most developed part of the country, it looks as charming as it is quaint.
The best time to go visit is during sunrise and sunset when the orange light rays from the sun bathe the horizon and the whole city in a beautiful glow. On one side, you’ll see the Mekong River, and on the other you’ll see the Khan River. Going in the early morning and early evening also ensure that your climb will be comfortable because the temperature is a lot cooler.
In addition, there are also other sights aside from the city below that you’ll get to enjoy once you reach the top. The Phou Si Mountain has a lot of old and newly built temples around it that you’ll find interesting. For instance, there is the Wat Pra Buddabhat or the Temple of the Buddha Footprint where a striking replica of the Buddha’s footprint can be found.
There are also other notable structures above like the statue of the goddess of water, Kuan Ou; statues of praying monks around a Buddha image; a shrine dedicated to kick boxers and many others.
Not all can manage to climb up all the 300 plus steps above. The climb starts from the foot of the hill at Sisavongvang Road and requires rather a lot of endurance, especially if you’re not very physically fit. So prepare for your climb but know that reaching the top will be even more rewarding with the stunning view of the city. Also, remember that the Wat Chom Si may be a great viewing point of the city, but it is also a sacred place for the locals, so keep your voices down, dress respectfully and most of all, behave appropriately.