Ancient Temple in Bolikhamxay Set to Attain National Heritage Status

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Phabath Phonsan Temple in Thaphabath district, Bolikhamxay Province. (Photo: Vientiane Mai)

Bolikhamxay Provincial Authorities will declare the revered Phabath Phonsan Temple in Thaphabath district as a national heritage site in January, coinciding with the annual Boun Phabath Phonsan festival, a key event across the province.

Scheduled to take place from 22-25 January, the Boun Phabath Phonsan festival is a cherished tradition where locals pay homage to the ancient stupa and visit the Buddha’s footprint at the temple. The festival has also earned its place in the Visit Laos Year 2024 program. 

Sonthong Vibounkuang, Head of Bolikhamxay’s Information, Culture, and Tourism Department, announced that the festival will showcase a street fair and mark the Phabath Phonsan Temple’s official declaration as a national heritage site.

A singing competition, cultural performances, and an enthralling fashion show featuring ethnic groups from the area will also serve to further enhance the festivities.

Built in the Buddhist year 902 (AD 359), Phabath Phonsan Temple stands on a 1.2-hectare site where, in 1993, locals found a 2.4 x 1.2-meter footprint believed to be Buddha’s, prompting the construction of Phabath Temple around it, Vientiane Times reported.

Devotees gather annually in mid-January to pay respect to the Buddha’s footprint, making merit by placing gold leaves on the sacred Phabath (Buddha footprint).

Apart from its cultural and religious significance, Bolikhamxay Province boasts eco-tourism activities, including two national protected areas and a vast wetland system. Beyond exploring the Phabath Phonsan temple, visitors are encouraged to visit the province’s numerous waterfalls, such as Tad Xay, Tad Leak, and Tad Mangkon, among others.

Bolikhamxay Province, with 102 officially designated natural, cultural, and historical tourist attractions, aspires to continue the momentum from the previously successful year. In 2022, more than 164,000 domestic and international tourists discovered the province’s wonders.