6 sacred places in Laos for a spiritual journey

Laos is one of those few countries where people travel to seek spiritualism. Although Buddhism is entrenched in the ethos of this beautiful Asian country, partly contributing to its spiritual vibe, it is possible to immerse yourself in spiritualism in your own unique way – be it in the form of religion, or be it through nature.

Sacred, spiritual sites are peppered all across the length of Laos and it would take weeks or even months to see them all. In order to help you find your zen, here is a compilation of some of the most spiritual places to visit in Laos if you have limited time to explore.

A brush with history at Vat Phou

Located in southern Laos, close to the Mekong River, Vat Phou is an ancient temple complex part of the Champasak Cultural Landscape, which is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Dedicated to the Hindu God, Shiva, Vat Phou literally translates into the “mountain temple”, and its ruins currently sit beautifully at the base of Mount Phou Khao.

©Chris/Flickr

Although initially built as a Hindu temple, Vat Phou now also houses Buddhist relics and is considered to be a sacred place for worshippers. If planning a trip to this temple, try to visit on a full moon night in the months from October to May when Vat Phou is lit up with 4000 candles – an undeniably magical sight.

Hours of operation: 8:00 am – 4:30 pm
Entrance fee: 35,000 Kip (USD 4) per person

Rediscover the meaning of spirituality at the Pak Ou Caves

Caves may not conventionally seem like a sacred or spiritual place, but the Pak Ou Caves in northern Laos are one of a kind. Situated on the bank of the Mekong River, it consists of a set of two separate caves and is filled with more than four thousand miniature Buddha statues and sculptures.

©Kirk K/Flickr

With the mighty river flowing by, and a dark serpentine flight of steps leading into the caves, the Pak Ou Caves give spirituality a different meaning.

Hours of operation: 8:00 am – 5:00 pm
Entrance fee: 20,000 Kip (USD 2.20)

Experience Buddhist spirituality at Pha That Luang

The poster child of Laos’s tourism advertisements, Pha That Luang is an iconic gold-plated stupa in the capital city of Vientiane. This Buddhist temple is one of the most popular places to visit in Laos and is hard to miss because of its prominent location in Vientiane’s city center.

©Benh LIEU SONG/Flickr

That doesn’t take anything away from Pha That Luang’s spiritual quotient. Said to house a piece of breast bone of Buddha, thousands of pilgrims and devotees visit the temple every year to pay their respects. In fact, one of the biggest Lao festivals, Boun That Luang, is held here annually and is the perfect time to visit the temple complex to immerse yourself in Buddhist spiritualism.

Hours of operation: 8:00 am – 4:00 pm
Entrance fee: 5,000 Kip (USD 0.55) per person

Time travel through history at Wat Xieng Thong

Sitting in the heart of Luang Prabang, Laos’s cultural capital, Wat Xieng Thong is a Buddhist temple with a rich heritage. First constructed way back in the 16th century and then rebuilt in the 20th century, this temple has undergone massive changes, but still retains some of the original features that set it apart. With its iconic rooftop, elaborately decorated interiors, and a stunning gold Buddha statue, Wat Xieng Thong evokes a sense of spirituality and mysticism, apart from being a treat for the senses in every way! 

©jmbaud77/Flickr

This temple expects its visitors to follow a dress code, so if you’re planning to visit, remember to wear clothes that cover your legs and shoulders. Alternatively, you could also rent a Laotian long skirt at the venue for 5,000 Kip (USD 0.55), which you could do anyway to get a feel of the local culture.

Hours of operation: 8 AM – 5 PM
Entrance fee: 20,000 Kip per Person

Witness the intermingling of religion at Wat Xieng Khuan 

Sometimes referred to as the Buddha Park, Wat Xieng Khuan is a unique place, very different from the other temples on this list. It is technically not even a temple, but rather a large open space that houses hundreds of sculptures of Hindu and Buddhist deities. From a reclining Buddha statue to a unique 2-headed elephant sculpture, you can expect to find the creator’s imagination coming to life here.

©jay joslin/Flickr

Located 25 Km outside of Vientiane, the Buddha Park would make for a great day trip from the city for those of you who don’t mind exploring the concept of spirituality in a different manner.

Hours of operation: 8:00 am – 5:00 pm
Entrance fee: 15,000 Kip (USD 1.65)

Take a spiritual journey at the Monkey Forest

In case you’re wondering that a forest has mistakenly appeared on this list, you can put your worries to rest. The sacred Monkey Forest in Laos’s Champhone district may seem like a far cry from your usual spiritual places of worship, but this open space inhabited by hundreds of cheeky monkeys is part of the Don Meuang Temple and its surrounding 3 hectares of land.

©Syromaniac/Flickr

Sacred temples are aplenty in Laos, but here, even the monkeys are considered to be sacred, and hence are an integral part of this unique spiritual ecosystem. Share a few bananas with these friendly creatures and enjoy a relaxing stroll in the forest they call their home. Who said spirituality must always have something to do with religion?

Hours of operation: 8:00 am to 4:00 pm

While this guide barely scratches the surface of the wealth of spirituality you can seek and find in Laos, we hope this at least gives you a starting point in your journey. Find your favorite sacred spots from our list and enjoy a deeply meaningful trip to Laos!

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