Wat Si Saket

Top choice in Vientiane

Built between 1819 and 1824 by Chao Anou, the last monarch of the Kingdom of Vientiane, Wat Si Saket is believed to be the city's oldest surviving wat. And it is starting to show, as this beautiful temple is in need of a facelift. Along the western side of the cloister is a pile of Buddhas that were damaged during the 1828 Lao Rebellion.

In the sǐm (ordination hall) a slightly damaged Khmer-style Naga Buddha – which depicts the Buddha seated on a coiled cobra deity (naga) and sheltered by its multiheaded hood – is also on display just in front of the main seated Buddha; it is believed to date from the 13th century and was brought from a nearby Khmer site.

The sǐm is surrounded by a colonnaded terrace in the Bangkok style and topped by a five-tiered roof. The interior walls bear hundreds of Buddha niches similar to those in the cloister, as well as beautiful – but decaying – Jataka murals depicting stories of the Buddha's past lives. Portions of the Bangkok-style murals are unrestored 1820s originals, while others date from a 1913 restoration.

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