If you are going to Xieng Khuang province in northeastern Laos, be sure to visit Vat Phiavat (Wat Piawat) and That Foun and That Chomphet stupas in Khoun district. These are the principal icons of province.
Khoun district is in the southwest of Xieng Khouang province. The temple and stupa are located in Siphom village, about 30 km from the provincial capital and Paek district. You will find these sites to be very interesting as people can learn about Laos’ history by visiting them.
These ancient structures are part of the Xieng Khouang heritage, left for the people by their ancestors. In ancient times, Xieng Khouang was known as the Phuan Kingdom and its people and rulers were civilized, mighty and powerful.
The temple and stupas were built in the Phuan style, and tell us a lot about the architecture and culture of the region and the Phuan Kingdom.
1. Vat Phiavat temple
Vat Phiavat is located in the center of Siphom village. This is the largest and oldest temple of the Phuan Kingdom and was built over 600 years ago. According to legend, Chao Lankhamkong, who was the king of Phuan at that time, led the people to build this temple. The Phuan Kingdom was at the peak of power. The Kingdom of Phuan was subsequently at the peak of power.
Vat Phiavat temple in Xieng Khuang, Laos
Beginning in 1874, the temple and even the kingdom were devastated by many wars. The temple was heavily damaged during the Indochina War by foreign troops, mainly Americans; and now only the ruins of one of the main structures, a large Buddha statue, some pillars and a few parts of the boundary wall still.
After the Lao PDR was established in 1975, the main building and the Buddha statue were reformed many times while retaining the original shape.
Today, there are number of new buildings set around the main structure that are eye-catching and constructed in the traditional Phuan style. But the ruins and the Buddha statue nevertheless continue to be the main attractions.
People visit the temple every day, wandering through the ruins in admiring tranquility. Locals and tourists also pray before the Buddha statue and seek blessings. They believed the image was sacred because it was only slightly damaged by the bombs that rained down on the temple and destroyed other structures.
2. That Foun
The Foun stupa located outside the center of Siphom village, not far from the temple. It is a large and high stupa believed to contain the relics of Lord Buddha. It was built at the same time as Vat Phiavat.
That Foun in Xieng Khouang, LaosThat Foun stupa in Xieng Khouang, Laos
According to legend, the temple was ordered by the 14th king of the Phuan Kingdom, who was said to be the first king to bring Buddhism to the region. The Foun is considered to be sacred and its name means "stupa containing relics of Lord Buddha". Many people recognize it as representing Lord Buddha.
The Foun stupa is located at a spot that provides a stunning view of the surrounding landscape and this has made it popular with selfie-loving travelers and amateur photographers.
There are stalls nearby selling local products, food and traditional dresses, which can also be rented for a reasonable fee so that people can wear them when posing for photos.
3. That Chompet
After That Foun, visitors usually move on to That Chomphet, just a few minutes away.
That Chompet stupa in Laos
This stupa has been badly damaged and has not been restored. It is a large, old and sacred stupa built at the same time as That Foun and Vat Phiavat. It was very high but the top was broken off during wartime.
The Chomphet name means that the stupa whose top contains a diamond. But foreign plunderers removed the top of the stupa and took away the diamond and other valuables stored inside.
Stupa is located on a hill surrounded by forests and fields. Tourists come to the stupa every day to pray and take pictures.
There are committees responsible for managing these websites. To enter each site, visitors must pay an entrance fee, 5000 KIP for a Lao national and 10,000 kip for a foreigner. The fees go into a fund used for the maintenance of these sites.
Khoun District also has other favorite places that are waiting for visitors to venture further. This area is definitely one of the best places to see in Xieng Khouang.
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