Laos: Charming Wat Choumkhong and the Artists of Wat Xieng Muan

Wat Xieng Muan Monk craft

An Artist Monk in Xien Muan

Staying in a lodging in Th Sisavangvong Vatthana street, which is an inner street from the Main Street of Th Sisavangvong, I am close to a lot of temples within town. Take note that there are numerous temples in Luang Prabang, some of them have entrance fees and others are free so it’s wise to choose the important ones first. I first visited a couple of temples just a short walk from the lodging. The first one is a charming little temple and the other one is a school for artist monks.

Luang Prabang Wat Choumkhong

The small and charming Wat Choumkhong

Wat Choumkhong is just along the street where I lodge in. It’s a charming small temple within a beautiful garden. People there said I should see the place during November and December when the poinsettia trees are in full bloom. I pass by this temple often just to get to the other street across.

Wat Xieng Muan

The old Wat Xieng Muan

Just on the other side of the fence is one of the older and more significant temples in Luang Prabang, the Wat Xieng Muan. Believed to be built around 1879, the monastery attached to it is believed to be much older. Now with backing from UNESCO and New Zealand Government, the Monks Quarters and classrooms were restored and turned into a school of arts and crafts.

Wat Xieng Muan Wood Craft

Artist Monk wood craft details

The monks here are trained in woodcarving, painting and Buddha-casting. These are the necessary skills for the monks to have in preserving and restoring the temples and artifacts in Luang Prabang. I thought the UNESCO had a great idea here since the people themselves are responsible on preserving their heritage. Not only that, some of their artworks are the source of their livelihood. I caught a few monks there working and they welcome visitors to watch them work. After a short while spending here, I walked back to my lodging to rest and catch a bit of sleep from that long bus ride. Later I would be climbing the Phu Si Hills.