Wat Long Khun is an 18th century temple located in the village of Xiang Men on the opposite side of the Mekong River from Luang Prabang. The temple is almost directly across from Wat Xieng Thong. Even though it is across the river from one of Laos’ most visited temples, Wat Long Khun is off the main tourist trail and offers a quiet and peaceful temple experience.
Despite its small sim (ordination hall), Wat Long Khun was in fact a very important temple. Before being coronated, the King of Luang Prabang would come here for a spiritual retreat. It was traditional practice for the King-to-be to spend three days at this temple and participate in ceremonial bathing and meditation before crossing the river to Wat Xieng Thong on the eve of his coronation ceremony.
Unfortunately, with the fall of the monarchy, Wat Long Khun and other temples were not as revered and eventually fell into disrepair. There were strong efforts in the 1990’s by the country’s department of museums and archeology department as well as a French NGO to restore the temples using traditional materials and techniques. The temples today are in fine shape thanks to them.
The small sim is fronted by a large veranda and is set on a low platform. The entrance of the ordination hall contains two large murals of Chinese warriors while the interior has vibrant depictions of the Jakata tales (stories of Buddha’s past births). Many of the murals are in poor condition because of the area’s humidity and moisture as well as the virtual abandonment of the temple following the end of the monarchy in 1975. The temple was also a victim of vandalism during the 1970’s as evident by the numerous gouges in the murals.
The temple complex also includes other interesting structures. There are six living quarters for monks, designed in traditional wooden styles and are raised on customary pilings. There is also a long windowless structure where past kings and current monks go for meditation.
On a hill above Wat Long Khun is Wat Chom Phet. This is an excellent spot for a panoramic view of the area as well as an excellent photo opportunity for a sunset shot.
For some strange reason, few visitors and locals seem to make the trip across river to this temple. You can be one of the few to leave Laos having explored Wat Long Khun with our Luang Prabang Excursion tour. This flexible holiday package allows you to enjoy the delights of Luang Prabang and its surrounding area at your own pace. We have included several unique activities and meals in this package but it is up to you to set your schedule. You can always contact us for any questions or recommendations regarding this tour or other programs in our Laos tour page.
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