The town’s notable religious site, Phou That Stupa, sits on a hilltop in the centre of town. Nearby on Phouxay Hill, Cheng Temple is home to a “Tree of Life”. While on the road to Nam Kat Waterfall, examine three sacred Buddha footprints on Paradise Mountain.
Phou That Stupa: Join Muang Xay’s most sacred religious site on a hilltop, and catch the best viewpoint of the town and the convergence of the Nam Beng and Nam Phak Rivers. Crowning the forested knoll stands Phou That Stupa (Xaymoungkhoun Latanamingmeuang), a golden 18-metre-tall monument, with an 18m2 base. Historians suggest the Tai Lue built the monument in the 14th century during the reign of Lane Xang King Saysethathirath to hold religious festivals and celebrations. During French colonial times, the hilltop housed a military camp, and during the 1st Indochina War, the stupa was levelled. Reconstruction began in 1994, and a 15 metre-high Buddha statue joined the new stupa in 2010. You can also meet the monks residing at Vat Muang Xay.
Location: Phou That Stupa is situated in the south-central part of Muang Xay Town, across Route 13 from the old stadium. If coming from town, take a right before the airport road. The road up the hill to the stupa is on the right. You can take a tuk tuk, motorbike, and bicycle from the town centre to the site.
Vat Ban Cheng: Visit Oudomxay’s most notable monastery with a “Tree of Life”. A district prince began building Vat Ban Cheng on Phouxay Hill on the Nam Phak Riverbank in 1850, but never finished the structure. His son completed the temple 50 years later, and renamed it Vat Xaisimaharam. The 1st Indochina War destroyed the temple in 1954, but locals rebuilt it in 1997 with The Tree of Life. The manmade tree is like a massive wind charm with metal leaves and animal sculptures dangling from the limbs. The Tree of Life, or Manycot Tree, grows in the mythical Hinmapan Forest in Buddhist lore. The tree had lived more than 4,000 years and sprouted fruit that was 260 cm in diameter, but animals couldn’t eat it. The fruit ended up falling, and caused an earthquake, sending the people fleeing for their lives.
Location: Vat Ban Cheng sits on the Nam Phak River. Take the small road across the main road from the stadium’s southern end. Turn at the first right to the temple.
Vat Phachao Singkham: If you travel 28 km north of Muang Xay to Muang La, be sure to stop at the 2,000-year-old Vat Phachao Singkham Temple. Enter the forest temple compound through a red-and-gold gate topped with a mythological Hindu statue. Inside the grounds, admire the lengthy gold reclining Buddha and the 400-year-old Saymoungkhoune Rattana Stupa, which, according to the locals, contains supernatural powers. The small sacred temple attracts believers from all around to pray and meditate.
Bang Nong Nha Buddha Footprint: On the drive from Muang Xay Town to Nam Kat Waterfall, stop and examine three sacred Buddha footprints on Paradise Mountain. You’ll find the hidden temple housing the footprints about 200 metres from Ban Long Ya Village, one of Oudomxay’s oldest Tai Lue villages.