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Pha That Luang: Vientiane Great Stupa

Pha That Luang: Vientiane Great Stupa

By Wendy Updated Jul. 13, 2021

The Pha That Luang in Vientiane is the most important religious site in Laos. The stele of the Pha That Luang Vientiane Great Stupa is Laos' national symbol. The Pha That Luang image appears on 1,000, 5,000, 10,000 and 100,000 kip notes as well as on the National Seal.

If you want to go see it, it is about 5 km or three miles from Chao Anouvong Park where the Vientiane Night Market is on the banks of the Mekong River. It is close enough for many people to walk to, and we'll describe a route to walk. But if you would like a private driver there so you can travel in comfort and see the rest of the city, we can provide it.

Here is what to see there, visitor's details, and information about how to get there including transportation safety advice.

History of the Pha That Luang

Vientiane was the capital of Laotian kingdoms from the 1500s. But since about 100 AD or so, the area of Vientiane had a Hindu temple. Then Buddhists from India came and turned the site into a Buddhist temple. It fell into ruin, and then in the 1200s, it was rebuilt by the Khmer people to be a Buddhist temple. That too fell into ruin.

Then the royal clan of the Kingdom of Laos moved their capital from Luang Prabang to Vientiane in 1560. The king ordered the constuction of Pha That Luang in 1566. However, they moved it from the original place in the center of Vientiane where the Night Market and Night Street area is now located to a spot about 4 kilometers out. The French took control of Laos in 1899, and they restored the stupa. The last restoration was finished in 2017.

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Visitor Highlights of Pha That Luang

  • It’s near the tourist center: It is easy to go to because it is near Lane Xang Avenue (Million Elephants Avenue) that is a main street that goes direct to the Night Market and Night Street area. Some people walk it in about 35 minutes, and there is lots of public transport and buses.
  • Lighted: A new electrical and light system lights it up with golden light.
  • Height of stupa: 45 meters (147 feet)
  • Dancing and exercising at sundown: This is a public park area also, and at sundown, the locals organize for dancing and group exercises and sports. So that in itself, as well as eating some local snacks, is something to do.

More Details about What to Expect

  • Recommended time: half an hour
  • Suitable for: people interested in history and culture
  • Tickets: 10,000 kip ($1.20 USD) entrance fee

Street food: There are two entrance gates, and by both of them you can get street food and shop for souvenirs.

Scenery: Along Lane Xang Road, near the temple, there are a lot of embassies and Laotian government buildings. The area is their government district, so it is a good place to stroll around too if you want to see them, dine well and shop.

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Tips For Visiting the Vientiane Stupa

Here are some visiting tips:

Local Etiquette

Laotians dress conservatively in public in general, and they do so even more at the temple since this is both one of their main religious temples and a place they esteem for historical reasons. Try to dress respectfully. Men and women should wear shirts and long pants, and women can wear pants or long dresses or skirts.

Vientiane Crime Safety Tips

Avoid transport scams: There are scams involving transportation. Unusually high rates might be charged tourists when taking transport or renting a moped or other vehicle. This is a special problem if you are outside the city. Don’t leave your passport anywhere as a deposit unless absolutely necessary.

Watch for pickpockets: They prey on unsuspecting tourists. Watch out at the street food vendors and little restaurants in the area. Make sure you keep your bags and electronics close to you and in sight when you eat somewhere.

How To Go to Pha That Luang

Go through people with good reputations: Most people could just walk there. But if you want to take public transportation of some type, to avoid problems, check with your hotel or hostel for their transport recommendations. You might be able to rent bicycles or mopeds from your hostel or hotel.

If you pick your own ride, try to get in with a group of other tourists. We don't recommend going by yourself in a vehicle or with a motorcycle driver for touring around town.

  • A private tuk tuk (songthaew, pickup truck): It is a 10 minute or so ride by tuk tuk.
  • Bus: Bus tickets from main tourist areas such as the Patuxay Monument would cost about 4,000 kip.
  • Walking tour: You can have a scenic sightseeing walk for 2 hours on Lane Xang Avenue and visit some of the city's main sights from the main tourist area at Chao Anouvong Park on the Mekong to the main government area. Along the way are the National University and Patuxay Monument and its park.
  • Go with a tour: There are numerous small tourist companies and guides/drivers offering their services to take you to see the sights. Most will try to limit the time for your trip and limit what you can do, and you might have to go with other customers. Some might surprise you with extra charges or problems.
  • Private tours: Asia Highlights is a good choice for those who want to arrange for a tour with comfortable, fast, safe and private transportation with an expert English-speaking guide. You can travel in cool comfort, set the itinerary, and have the flexibility to go where you want to visit. We'll also take you to restaurants just right for you and your tastes. Check out the options below.
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Regional Travel

The Wattay International Airport (VTE) has flights to cities in many East Asian cities in China, Thailand, Korea, Vietnam, Japan and other East Asian countries.

Consider Private Driver for Regional Travel

Most tourists want to travel to/from regional destinations such as Siem Reap, Cambodia, Vang Vieng, Laos, and Vientiane, Laos that are reachable by road travel, and most ride a bus. We'd like to suggest that you try China Highlights for a private driver to travel regionally since it is safer, more comfortable, faster, and more convenient. You could save time and money and visit places you want to go to that you can't go to on these regional buses.

The roads in the region tend to be bumpy and wind a lot, so a lot of people in cramped buses get vertigo and feel sick. Also, the buses make only infrequent rest stops. So going in a private car is much more comfortable and healthier too. It is also faster.

To/from Luang Prabang:

This small tourist town in northern town was the former capital city and has historical places important for Laotians and amazing natural highlights.

If you want to go see it by bus, it is a winding uncomfortable ride that takes about 13 hours (200,000 kip, 24.00 USD) including an hour meal break. There is only one additional rest stop along the way, and there are no toilets on the seats-only buses. Once you get to your destination, you'll have to take local transport to where you want to go.

For inexperienced travellers, it might be a trying experience, and there is a potential for crime issues and hygiene dangers. Going with us, we can get you there directly in about 5 hours. Or you can go wherever you'd like along the way, and we could take you to excellent, authentic local restaurants you'll enjoy and avoid the food at the low-quality eating places at the busstops.

Sync with Indochina's Heartbeat

From Vientiane, Laos to/from Pakse:

Pakse in southern Laos is near Don Det and the Khong Phapheng Waterfall.

You can take a flight and taxi to get to or from Pakse in a little less than an hour and a half from Vientiane Airport (VTE). The total trip might cost between 100 and 300 USD.

Going direct, a private driver might take 10 hours including a short meal stop and breaks. A bus would take about 12 hours (25.00 USD), but you still have to go on to Don Det or the waterfalls, and we can get you there.

Private Transport

We can turn this otherwise tiring and long regional travel from cities as far away as Bangkok or Hanoi into a two or three-day scenic road tour with stops at highlights along the way and restful accommodations. Having a personal driver and expert tour guide is a great benefit.

Air-conditioned car: The climate is very hot and humid in southern Laos. Temperatures often rise above 35°C or 100°F. We'll provide comfortable and cool transport.

Visit Pha That Luang and Vientiane with Us

Vientiane is one of the highlights of Laos. Going with us is an excellent way to tour Laos or the whole region including Cambodia, China, and Vietnam.

Contact us, and we'll provide the expert advice and plan the trip with you. We are a big regional travel company experienced with tours in Southeast Asia and can handle a multiregional trip and turn it into an enjoyable and safe adventure.

So, if you want to book a private tour that has an English-speaking guide and be able to do other things such as booking fine dining or going to other highlights, check out our tour options and contact us about what you like to do.

Visit Pha That Luang and Vientiane with Us

Vientiane is one of the highlights of Laos. Going with us is an excellent way to tour Laos or the whole region including Cambodia, China, and Vietnam.

Contact us, and we'll provide the expert advice and plan the trip with you. We are a big regional travel company experienced with tours in Southeast Asia and can handle a multiregional trip and turn it into an enjoyable and safe adventure.

So, if you want to book a private tour that has an English-speaking guide and be able to do other things such as booking fine dining or going to other highlights, check out our tour options and contact us about what you like to do.

Why Travel with Asia Highlights During the Pandemic

  • Tailor-made experience: All of your ideas/needs will be carefully considered to create your ideal trip.
  • Worry-free planning: Your 1:1 travel consultant in Asia will take all the uncertainty out of your planning, helping you navigate any travel restrictions. 
  • No-risk booking: 100% refund policy! (up to 14 days before departure)
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