There are a little more than 30 temples in the relatively small town of Luang Prabang. As if that's not a lot, the French counted more than 50 monasteries near the end of the nineteenth century. Most tours of the city will include Wat Xieng Thong, Wat Mai Suwannapumaram and at least a walk past the temples on Phu Si.
Wat Pha Pai, one of the 30 temples in Luang Prabang.
For some, these may be more than enough. However, the many temples come in a seemingly infinite variety that can be worth the effort to explore. One added bonus to exploring the city's temples - especially on your own - is the high likelihood that you'll be 'chatted up' by one of the novices. These young monks are often anxious to practise their English skills. Its probably one of the reasons they entered the monastery (which may typically be for a period of three months to three years.)
- Wat Aham
- Next to Wat Visoun and the That Makmo is the smaller, plainer temple of Wat Aham.
- Wat Nong Sikhunmeuang
- Locating just behind the Villa Santi Hotel, this large ornate temple is quite richly decorated.
- Wat Pa Pai
- Tucked away behind the main commercial district along Sisavong Vang Road is the small temple of Wat Pa Pai. The entrance is almost obscured by a huge overgrown bougainvillea planted at the gate.
- Wat Pra Buddhabaht
- Nestled at the northeastern base of Phu Si hill, this 600 year old temple should be part of any visit to the mountain.
- Wat Saen
- Along the main Sisavong Vang Road between the main commercial district and Wat Xieng Thong are a string of smaller temples. The largest and most ornate of these is Wat Saen.
- Wat Visoun and That Makmo
- A short distance from the southeast base of Phu Si hill is the colorfully named 'watermelon stupa' (That Makmo) in the grounds of Wat Visoun.
- Wat Xieng Muan
- Between the commercial strip of shops and restaurants at the center of Luang Prabang and the Mekong River are two small temples. The slightly larger of these is Wat Xieng Muan.
But Wait, There's More
The above list just reflects those temples that we've been able to do background research on. If you take the time to explore the old city, there are several other temples you will run across. On the main road next to Wat Saen is Wat Sop. Across the road a little further up is Wat Khili, currently under renovation. At the very tip of the peninsula, where the Khan flows into the Mekong, is Wat Pak Khan, with a very dark and atmospheric interior. Lastly, down by the fresh market, there's a new looking temple with some colorful murals on its outer walls..