Perhaps the busiest temple in Vientiane is Wat Si Muang. The temple is near the eastern entrance to the city center, on the road leading from the Friendship Bridge, and so is heavily frequented by visitors coming to the city, seeking good luck.
The sim and entry gate of Wat Si Muang
For all its popularity, Wat Si Muang is rather a small temple. The sim (ordination hall) sits in a large paved yard that is often full of cars parked while the faithful pay a quick visit.
Inside, the sim is somewhat unusual in that it is divided into two rooms. Most Buddhist chapels are a single large room. The front room of the sim is rather spare, and there is usually a monk on hand to give blessings. The rear room houses the main altar, which takes up almost the entire room.
The altar is crowded with Buddha images, but pride of place at the top of the alter is taken by a rough gilded stone that is the city's original city pillar (lak muang), which actually extends deep into the ground under the altar. There is another city pillar now installed at the Tat Luang monument. Don't miss a look up at the intricately decorated copper colored ceiling.
The ruins of the Khmer shrine on which the temple was built.
The temple was built on the ruins of a Khmer Hindu shrine, the remains of which can be seen behind the ordination hall. The city pillar around which the sim was built may have been a stone pillar taken from this or another Khmer temple.
On a wedge of land formed the the merging of two streets in front of the temple stands a huge statue of King Sisavang Vong. The French-installed King ruled over Laos from 1904 to 1959 during World War II and, somewhat reluctantly, the country's independence after the war. The statue holds a palm leaf manuscript supposed to represent the country's first legal code.
There is no plaque identifying the statue. It was "lost" shortly after the 1975 revolution that topled the old royalist government.