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Temple & Monument
Wat Mai Suwannaphumaham is good for
- Highly recommended by fellow travellers.
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Why Wat Mai Suwannaphumaham is special ?
Wat Mai holds great significance in Laos culture for both religious and aesthetic reasons. The monastery served as a temple for the royal family and long has been the residence of the Pra Sangkharat, the highest Laotian Buddhist dignitary.
The greatest architectural hallmark of Wat Mai is its five tiered roof. Its expanse is readily viewed from the adjoining elevated sidewalk on Thanon Sisavangvong. Its front veranda extends across the width of the nave and protects the gilded bas relief on the front façade and other decorations. The magnificent relief dates from the remodeling of the late 1960s. The cement reliefs were first covered with a black lacquer and then gilded. The entire relief stunningly depicts scenes from the Ramayana and the Vessantara-Jakata, the Buddha's penultimate reincarnation, within the villages and flora and fauna of the world around Luang Prabang. The large and majestic red interior nave with gold stenciling on the columns, beams and walls together with the variety of gilded Buddha statues and tables at the altar and the large Buddha statue provide evid
What to explore at Wat Mai Suwannaphumaham?
The Wat Mai’s most impressive structure is the sim. Its five tiered roof extending almost to the ground is adorned with golden Naga finials. At the center of the highest tier is a “Dok so faa” consisting of three golden parasols.
On either side of the sim is a veranda, the main one being particularly beautiful. Its façade contains very intricate gilded stucco bas reliefs made in the 1960’s. The reliefs depict scenes from the Ramayana and the Jatakas and scenes of every day life in Luang Prabang with temples, animals, houses, festivities and dancing women.
The veranda’s roof is supported by large black and gold stencilled columns topped with capitals in the shape of lotus leafs. The sim’s doors are decorated with gilded carvings of deities and flower motifs.
The sim houses the Wat Mai’s principal Buddha image, a large gilded seated Buddha image in the meditation position. It is surrounded by a large number of smaller images in various mudras. A shrine houses an emerald Buddha image. The original, the most highly venerated Buddha image in Thailand, is enshrined in the Wat Phra Kaew temple on the grounds of the Grand Palace in Bangkok.
Other structures on the grounds
Other structures on the temple grounds include a slender stupa, two small stone chapels, a drum tower and a library building where Buddhist scriptures are kept. The Wat Mai is an active temple; the resident monks live in the kuti, the monks living quarters. A boat house stores several long, slender racing boats used during the Luang Prabang boat racing festival.
How to get to Wat Mai Suwannaphumaham?
The Wat Mai is located on Sisavangvong road next to the Royal Palace Museum. It can be reached on foot from many of the town’s attractions. A ride by tuk tuk or jumbo will cost between 10,000 and 15,000 Kip, depending on bargaining skills and distance.
- “One of the beautiful wats in Luang Prabang.”
- “Deserves the fame and praise”
- “Good example of a living Wat”
- “Jewel of the city”
- “A very peaceful Wat”
Luang Prabang, Laos
Tips for you
This wat was built in 1724. It has a multi-layered roof style where pillars in the central structure are higher than the supporting periphery and a covered gallery surrounds the central strucdture. Wat Mai has a five tiered red roof with gilded and stencilled columns. It took seventy years to complete and houses the PraBang Buddha. During New Year's celebrations, the golden Buddha is brought from the Royal Palace to Wat Mai for three days. If you are in Luang Prabang for several days, this is a great stop (less than $2 US). Luang Prabang has a wealth of beautiful wats and this is certainly one of them.