Wat Xieng Thong (Golden City Temple)
Wat Xieng Thong © Rich Middleditch
Situated at the tip of Luang Prabang's peninsula, the Golden City Temple is the country's most enchanting monastery and perhaps its most talked-about tourist attraction. Its grandest feature may be the graceful, sweeping tiled roof of its main temple, though the stencilled gold designs on its walls are marvellous too. The latter depict many traditional tales. At the rear, visitors will find a splendid coloured-glass mosaic illustrating the 'tree of life'. The compound garden's peaceful atmosphere features several shelters, which house rare Buddha images and the gilded royal funerary carriage. From a tourism perspective, general consensus is if visitors can only explore one of the country's monasteries, is should be Wat Xieng Thong. Travellers should bring a guide book or hire a local guide before visiting. That way, they can fully appreciate the temple and its history. Evenings see the light reflect beautifully off the glass and gold of the walls, while the monks are called into prayer by drums.