A New Home for Phra Bang

From its fearsome gold naga guarding the main stairs, its incredibly lavish gold and red interior, and multi-tiered roof, the Haw Pha Bang at Luang Prabang's Royal Palace looks ancient. But it's not.
Luang Prabang Haw Pha Bang Royal Palace Museum Naga
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From its fearsome gold naga King Cobras guarding the main stairs, its incredibly lavish gold and red interior, and multi-tiered roof, the Haw Pha Bang at Luang Prabang’s Royal Palace looks ancient and definitely royal.

It was indeed royal. It’s purpose-built to be the official home of the Phra Bang, the diminutive yet sacred gold alloy Buddha statue shrouded in legend, reverence, and rumor that serves as the palladium of the Kingdom of Laos. It also gives Luang Prabang, the royal capital, its name, with a quirk of transliteration moving from Phra Bang to Prabang.

The statue is old–although probably not nearly as old as local lore says–but its home, the lavish Haw Phra Bang on the southeastern corner of the Royal Palace compound in Luang Prabang, is new. And, it has mostly been built under Lao Communist rule. In fact, the building still isn’t quite finished, and the Phra Bang has not yet been installed on his permanent pedestal.

Stay tuned, though–it should happen in the Southeast Asian understanding of “very soon.” Even then, though, suspicions that the real statue is in fact in a vault either in Vientiane or even in Moscow will continue to dog the Phra Bang in its new home.

Luang Prabang Haw Pha Bang Royal Palace Museum Ornate Interior
Photo © David Coleman / HaveCameraWillTravel.com
Luang Prabang Haw Pha Bang Royal Palace Museum with Purple Flowers
Photo © David Coleman / HaveCameraWillTravel.com
Luang Prabang Haw Pha Bang Royal Palace Museum Naga Profile
Photo © David Coleman / HaveCameraWillTravel.com
Royal Palace Luang Prabang Laos Building
Photo © David Coleman / HaveCameraWillTravel.com
Luang Prabang Haw Pha Bang Royal Palace Museum Stairs
Photo © David Coleman / HaveCameraWillTravel.com
Luang Prabang Haw Pha Bang Royal Palace Museum Gold Pedestal
Photo © David Coleman / HaveCameraWillTravel.com
Luang Prabang Haw Pha Bang Royal Palace Museum Golden Naga
Photo © David Coleman / HaveCameraWillTravel.com
Royal Palace Luang Prabang Laos
Photo © David Coleman / HaveCameraWillTravel.com

What to Know Before You Go

The Haw Pha Bang is part of the Royal Palace complex.

Where to Next?



Travel Advice for Laos

You can find the latest U.S. Department of State travel advisories and information for Laos (such as entry visa requirements and vaccination requirements) here.

The British and Australian governments offer their own country-specific travel information. You can find the British Government's travel advice for Laos here and the Australian Government's here.

Health & Vaccinations

The CDC makes country-specific recommendations for vaccinations and health for travelers. You can find their latest information for Laos here.

Guidebooks for Laos

If you're looking for a guidebook to make the most of your visit, these are some of the most popular ones currently for Laos. Some are available in both paper and e-book formats.

Lonely Planet Laos 10 (Country Guide)
  • Bush, Austin (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
Lonely Planet Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos & Northern Thailand 5 (Multi Country...
  • Lonely Planet Vietnam Cambodia Laos Northern Thailand
  • Tang, Phillip (Author)

Travel Insurance For Your Trip to Laos

I never travel without travel insurance, and I've run into several situations where I've had to make claims. I consider it essential.

But shopping for travel insurance can be a pain and confusing. Thankfully, there are some travel insurance comparison sites that show you a wide range of plans, make it easy to compare coverage, and can save you money at the same time. And the coverage can be much better tailored to your specific needs than the checkbox offering at travel booking sites or through your credit card.

These are some good places to shop for travel insurance for your next trip to Laos :

Hopefully, you won't need it, but if something goes wrong, you'll sure be glad you have it!

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