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Home >> Laos >> Vientiane >> Haw Pha Kaew

Haw Pha Kaew

Location: on the Setthathirath Street, not far from Wat Si Saket, in downtown Vientiane.

Entry fee: 5000 Kip

Opening time: 08:11:30, 14:30-16:00, closed on holidays and festivals.

Recommended time for a visit: 2 hours

Haw Pha Kaew, or Wat Phra Keo, or Emerald Buddha Temple, was originally built in 1565 by the King of the Kingdom of Lan Xang to enshrine the jasper Buddha, Phra Sihing Buddha, from Luang Prabang. The Buddha was primarily enshrined in Chiang Mai of Thailand and brought into Laos by the king in case the Buddha was destroyed in the flames of war. Maintained in Laos for 218 years, the jade Buddha eventually took back to Thailand when Thailand troops invaded Laos in 1779 and was enshrined in a temple of the same name in Bangkok till now.

The temple was built resplendently with three storeys, deep hall and a huge butsudan, but completely destroyed in 1928 during the war when Vientiane was occupied by Siam (Thailand). It is till in 1936 that Laos government had the temple rebuild according to its former appearance as a religious art museum. The construction was finished in 1942. The stairway of the base was guarded by dragons, the winding corridor is supported by tall columns, the temple gate is complicatedly decorated with rococo carvings and on the wall are many basso-relievo of Buddhism legends.

The museum now collects objects from other temples in the city and numerous stone Buddha put in the winding corridor. The collections are all precious art treasure of Laos including gold-covered throne of the kings, Cambodian statues, high quality wooden carvings, famous gate carvings and Buddha statues casted in gold, jade and crystal in various size and posture.  

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