HAW PHRA KAEW – ROYAL TEMPLE OF EMERALD BUDDHA VIENTIANE
Haw Phra Kaew (Ho Prakeo, or Hor Pha Keo) is a former temple and No.1 attraction in Vientiane, Laos. It stands at the center of the town, right across the Wat Si Saket. This temple served the royal family as well as carried the responsibility of housing the Emerald Buddha for about 200 years. However, it turned into a historic museum now and open for all visitors.
History of Haw Phra Kaew
Although the temple was first built in 1565 by King Setthathirath to serve the royal family and house the Emerald Buddha, it do neither jobs now. For that, all events regarding this temple are related to the Siamese. It started with the Emerald Buddha statue that King Setthathirath brought from northern Thailand. After that, the King enshrine the Emerald Buddha in Haw Phra Kaew for over 200 years. Until 1779, the Siamese came and seized the town, razed the temple to the ground. The statue made it way back to Thailand then.
Due to some invasions, the temple is now quite different from itself in the past. The French is the last ones that rebuilt the temple. It is now a museum instead of a religious place. The only part that remains unchanged is the old royal palace that sit inside the temple. In front of the temple, there is a floral garden that offer visitors a fresh view.
Walk through the garden, tourists will find the sim, which was a place for many religious ceremonies. It looks very “Laos” with multi-tiered roof, wood carved details. On the veranda, there is a bronze Buddha from 18th century, along side with many typical religious images of Laos.
The sim now displays Buddha images including gilded throne for the Emerald Buddha, the ancient manuscripts written on a dried palm leaf containing Buddha’s teachings, as well as inscribed Khmer stone steles. Since taking photos inside the sim is forbidden, there is no pictures showing the interior view of Haw Phra Kaew.
Opening time and entry ticket
Opening time: 8:00 to 12:00 and 13:00 to 16:00 everyday
Ticket fee: 5,000 Kip (Less than 1 dollar, see Laos currency Kip)
How to get to Haw Phra Kaew
Like other attractions in Vientiane, Laos, temple Haw Phra Kaew is in the center of the town, in the intersection of road Setthathirath and Mahasot road. It is near the Presidential Palace and opposite to the Wat Si Saket. Tourist can easily get there by renting a bike with 10,000 Kip or hiring a tuk-tuk with around 20,000 Kip depending on your negotiating skill.