Visiting Wat Mai, or rather, Wat Mai Souwannaphummaham is one of the things to do in Luang Prabang. Located quite close to properties such as Avani+ Luang Prabang, the temple bears intricate bas-reliefs, covered in gold, which are indeed a feast to the eye.
Wat Mai, meaning the “new temple,” was founded somewhere around the 18th century by the king, who reigned the Kingdom of Luang Prabang at that time. Built next to the Royal Palace, Wat Mai Souwannaphummaham was reserved for the Laos royalty.
Temporary Home of Phra Bang Buddha Image
Wat Mai is one of the few remaining Buddhist temples that escaped destruction by the Chinese invaders. Later on, it was selected to house the Phra Bang Buddha image, which is highly-worshipped and considered as the palladium of the country. Nowadays, one can see it at the Luang Prabang Museum.
Sporting a five-tiered room in its signature Luang Prabang style, the sǐm, or the ordination hall is one of the most richly decorated monasteries of the city. The elegant verandah next to it, with its unusual roof, gives shade to detailed gold carvings depicting scenes from village life.
Things to Know
When you enter the temple, make sure to remove your hats and shoes, and that your body is covered from shoulders to knees. Also, respect the residing monks and novices, and refrain from touching them even as a friendly gesture.