According to the Lao people, legend says that Pha That Luang was originally built as a temple that dates back to the 3rd century, however it is known to have been re-built as a Khmer style temple in the 13th century.
The stupa called Pha That Luang began construction in 1566 after King Saysetthathirath moved the capital from Luang Prabang to Vientiane. This stupa stayed mostly intact until 1828 when it was destroyed by the Thai army when they invaded Laos.
The stupa remained as a ruin until the early 20th century when it was unsuccessfully restored by the French, and then eventually completely re-built to what it is today in the 1930’s.
With such a long history, it makes sense that Pha That Luang stands as a monument to Laos and is actually the largest and grandest stupa in the entire country, measuring 45m in height.
I actually walked all the way to Pha That Luang from the river front via Patuxai, and by the time I got there I was quite hot and tired. So I grabbed a cold drink and sat in the shade of the trees nearby to wait out the heat of the midday sun.
As I sat there admiring the stupa from the outside, two full bus loads of Thai tourists turned up and rushed through the grounds clicking their cameras. Within about 15 minutes they were all rushing back out towards their bus. I was glad that I had waited.
Now with the area seemingly empty of other people, I made my way in through the gate, paid my 5000kip entrance fee and explored the stupa, which I basically had to myself. Here’s what I found inside the walls:
I spent some time exploring the stupa and just sitting in peace, grateful to be in such a beautiful place.
Pha That Luang is one of the most popular attractions in Vientiane and for good reason. It’s just beautiful! Definitely check it out if you’re heading to the sleepy capital of Laos.