Haw Phra Kaew – A Museum In Vientiane Housed In A Former Temple, Known For Its Religious Art

Haw Phra Kaew travel with laos tour package

Embark on a captivating laos tour package and delve into the rich cultural heritage of Vientiane with a visit to Haw Phra Kaew. This esteemed museum, nestled within the bustling capital city, occupies the sacred grounds of a former temple, offering a captivating journey through Laos’ religious art and history. 

The History of Haw Phra Kaew

Haw Phra Kaew, situated in Vientiane, Laos, holds a rich and storied history deeply intertwined with the country’s cultural and religious heritage. Originally constructed in the 16th century, the temple was built as a royal chapel by King Setthathirath I, the ruler of the Lane Xang Kingdom. Its primary purpose was to house the revered Emerald Buddha, a highly venerated and sacred religious icon.

For centuries, Haw Phra Kaew served as the spiritual center of Laos, with the Emerald Buddha enshrined within its hallowed walls. The temple was a site of royal ceremonies, religious rituals, and pilgrimage, drawing devotees from far and wide who sought solace and spiritual guidance.

However, in 1779, tragedy struck when the temple was ransacked and pillaged by invading Siamese forces. The Emerald Buddha was seized and taken to Thailand, where it remains enshrined in Bangkok’s Wat Phra Kaew. Subsequently, Haw Phra Kaew fell into disrepair and was left abandoned for many years.

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In the 19th century, during the reign of King Anouvong, Haw Phra Kaew was reconstructed and repurposed as a museum to showcase Laos’ religious art and cultural heritage. The temple was transformed into a repository for Buddhist artifacts, manuscripts, and sculptures, providing insight into the country’s spiritual traditions and artistic craftsmanship.

Today, Haw Phra Kaew stands as a revered museum in Vientiane, housing a remarkable collection of religious art and artifacts. Visitors can explore its ornate halls, tranquil courtyards, and exquisite galleries, gaining a deeper understanding of Laos’ rich cultural legacy and the significance of its religious heritage. Though the Emerald Buddha may no longer reside within its walls, Haw Phra Kaew remains a symbol of resilience, preservation, and reverence for the spiritual and artistic treasures of Laos.

The Architecture of Haw Phra Kaew 

The temple’s architecture reflects a blend of Lao and Thai styles, characterized by intricate carvings, ornate gables, and elegant rooflines. Visitors are captivated by the temple’s grandeur and beauty as they explore its halls and courtyards.

Haw Phra Kaew is renowned for its impressive collection of religious artifacts, sculptures, and intricate carvings, showcasing the craftsmanship and spiritual devotion of Lao artisans. Visitors marvel at the intricately carved sculptures and reliefs found throughout the temple, showcasing the skill and craftsmanship of Lao artisans. These sculptures often depict deities, mythical creatures, and symbolic motifs.

The walls of the temple are adorned with vibrant murals depicting scenes from Buddhist mythology, religious teachings, and historical events. These intricate paintings offer a visual narrative of Laos’ cultural and spiritual heritage.

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Surrounding the temple are tranquil courtyard gardens, adorned with lush greenery, flowering plants, and traditional Lao landscaping. The gardens provide a peaceful retreat for visitors to relax and reflect amidst the temple’s sacred surroundings.

In addition to its religious artifacts, Haw Phra Kaew features cultural exhibits that highlight various aspects of Laos’ heritage, including traditional crafts, textiles, and musical instruments. These exhibits offer visitors a deeper understanding of the country’s cultural diversity and artistic traditions.

Haw Phra Kaew Tour Guide

Opening hour 

Haw Phra Kaew opens daily, from 8:00 am – 12:00 am; 13:00 pm – 16:00 pm

How to get to Haw Phra Kaew 

Haw Phra Kaew is a historic temple located in the city of Vientiane, Laos. To get there, you can use several means of transportation:

  • Walking: If you’re staying in the central area of Vientiane, it’s possible to walk to Haw Phra Kaew. The temple is located near other attractions such as Wat Si Saket and the Presidential Palace, making it accessible on foot from many accommodations.
  • Tuk-tuk: Tuk-tuks are a popular mode of transportation in Vientiane. You can easily find tuk-tuks around the city, and they can take you directly to Haw Phra Kaew. Negotiate the fare with the driver before starting your journey.
  • Taxi: Taxis are also available in Vientiane, although they are less common than tuk-tuks. You can hail a taxi on the street or use ride-hailing apps like Grab to book a taxi to take you to Haw Phra Kaew.
  • Bicycle: Renting a bicycle is another option if you prefer a more eco-friendly and leisurely mode of transportation. You can rent bicycles from various shops in Vientiane and cycle to Haw Phra Kaew at your own pace.
  • Motorbike: If you’re comfortable riding a motorbike, you can rent one and drive to Haw Phra Kaew. However, be aware that traffic conditions and road regulations may differ from what you’re accustomed to, so exercise caution.

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Nearby Attraction for Tourists to visit

Wat Sisaket:

Wat Si Saket is a Buddhist temple known for its cloister wall housing thousands of small Buddha statues and images. It is one of the oldest temples in Vientiane.

Opening Hours: Daily from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM.

Patuxai (Victory Gate or Gate of Triumph):

Patuxai is a monument reminiscent of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, dedicated to those who fought for independence from France. Visitors can climb to the top for panoramic views of Vientiane.

Opening Hours: Daily from 8:00 AM to 4:30 PM.

That Luang Stupa (Pha That Luang):

That Luang is a large gold-covered Buddhist stupa in the center of Vientiane, considered the most important national monument in Laos. It is a symbol of both the Buddhist religion and Lao sovereignty.

Opening Hours: Daily from 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM.

Lao National Museum:

The Lao National Museum offers insight into the history, culture, and ethnology of Laos. It features exhibits ranging from prehistoric times to the modern era.

Opening Hours: Tuesday to Sunday from 8:00 AM to 12:00 PM and 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM.

Explore the museum’s ornate halls and tranquil courtyards as you marvel at ancient Buddha statues, delicate manuscripts, and vibrant murals that offer insights into Laos’ Buddhist traditions. With its serene ambiance and cultural significance, Haw Phra Kaew invites travelers to immerse themselves in the spiritual essence of Laos and discover the beauty of its religious artistry.