Introducing Wat Phra That Bang Phuan
Boasting a beautiful chedi that locals believe holds 29 Buddha relics, Wat Phra That Bang Phuan is one of the region's most sacred temples. Nobody knows when the first stupa was erected here, but after moving his capital from Luang Prabang to Vientiane in 1560, Lan Xang King Setthathirat commissioned grand temples to be built all around his kingdom, including a new stupa built over an older one here. Rain caused it to lean precariously and in 1970 it finally fell over. It was rebuilt in 1976–77. The current one stands 34m high on a 17-sq-metre base and has many unsurfaced chedi around it, giving the temple an ancient atmosphere; and it's this, much more than the main stupa, that makes a trip here rewarding.
The temple is 22km from Nong Khai on Rte 211. Take a Pak Chom-bound bus (20B, 45 minutes).