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 Wat Xieng Thong: Golden City Temple, Luang Prabang

Wat Xieng Thong: Golden City Temple, Luang Prabang

By Wendy Updated Dec. 21, 2023

Luang Prabang is notable for great natural places such as one of the country's best waterfalls and cultural places to see. The Wat Xieng Thong (Golden City Temple) is an old Buddhist temple complex that was first built in 1560. It is considered one of the best old temple complexes in Laos.

It was one of the official royal temples of a kingdom in Laos, and it was restored by the French and the present government in the last century. It is conveniently located in town, so you can easily see it when you are in tour in the region.

Wat Xieng ThongWat Xieng Thong

Among of the Best of Ancient Laotian Architecture

The little town of Luang Prabang was once the capital of a Laotian kingdom in the 1500s. Wat Xieng Thong was the royal temple complex, and it exhibits the best architecture and artwork that the royal clan mustered in the 1500s and the 1600s. However, there are also recent additions such as the Drum Tower that was built in 1961.

Luang Prabang was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995, and the government put the Wat Xieng Thong complex under special protection. You can see golden decoration inside. Around it, there are other buildings including a library structure that was built in the 1880s and living quarters.

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Highlights of Golden City Temple

Wat Xieng Thong is in the center of Luang Prabang: It is easy to go to because it is in the old historic center area of the ancient capital on a strip of land along the Mekong River that includes the Royal Palace and other ancient capital sites, monuments, and temples. It is about 1.5 kilometers or a 17 minute walk from the famed night market area.

On the most scenic area: What makes the area more beautiful is that it is on a flat piece of land set where the Mekong meets another river. So it is surrounded by river on three sides.

Travel Esentials

  • Recommended time: half an hour
  • Suitable for: people interested in history, architecture, and culture
  • Open hours: about 8:00 am to 5:00 pm daily
  • Tickets: 20,000 kip ($2.40 USD) entrance fee

Tips for Visiting the Golden City Temple

Local Etiquette

Laotians dress conservatively in public. Especially, since this is both a religious temple 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.

Crime Safety Tips

Avoid transport scams: In town, there are scams involving transportation. Unusually high rates might be charged when taking transport or renting a moped or other vehicle. This is a special problem if you are outside of town. Don't leave your passport anywhere as a deposit unless absolutely necessary.

How to Go to Wat Xieng Thong

Go through people with good reputations: Most people could just walk there. But if you want to take 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): Riders can rent a tuk tuk for about 200,000 kip (24.00) USD for several hours or 250,000 kip for up to 6 hours. Six or 8 people can share these. The drivers know the way to the various lagoons. There is a 10,000 kip (1.20 USD) extra charge for the toll bridge across the Nam Song River.
  • Rent a scooter: These generally cost about 100,000 kip (12.00 USD) per day plus gasoline. Less reputable businesses might run scams.
  • Bicycle: You can ride a bicycle to Wat Xieng Thong in a few minutes from most places tourists go in Luang Prabang. Day rental for a bicycle is about 25,000 kip (2.00 or 3.00 USD).
  • Go with a tour: There are numerous small tourist companies and guides/drivers offering their services. 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. Check out the options below.

Visit Wat Xieng Thong and Luang Prabang with Us

Luang Prabang 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. 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.

Contact us, and we'll provide the expert advice and plan the trip with you. Check out our tour options:

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