Wat Longkhoun is located in Chomphet and sits almost directly across the river from Wat Xeing Thong in Luang Prabang. Unique to the Wats in Chomphet, Wat Longkhoun holds strong connections to the royal family of Laos and dates back to the 18th century. Historically, it was traditional practice for all kings of Laos to retreat to Wat Longkhoun for three days of ceremonial cleansing and meditation. Before returning across the river to Wat Xieng Thong to be anointed as King.
Since it’s beginings, Wat Longkhoun served as a sanctuary for those seeking meditation and rejuvenation. Consequently, the windowless meditation room once used by kings, their male relatives and monks, still stands near the wat.
In addition, an extension was built during the reign of King Sisavonvang in 1937. Featuring two historic and large bearded Chinese statues to guard the entrance. Along with, elaborate gilded columns topped with lotus petal designs and intricate wood carvings.
The interior however features decorative deities and a red ceiling intricately stenciled with dharma wheels, peacocks, and mythical creatures. Jataka murals depict the story of the 547 lives of Lord Buddha and local myths sharing Buddhist morals of kindness and the importance of giving. After all, Wat Longkhoun is also known as the Happy Monastery.
Unfortunately, today many of the murals are in poor condition due to moisture and years of neglect. As was the fate of many of the Wats in Chomphet after the dissolution of the monarchy. Also, numerous gouges can be seen from vandalism during the revolutionary years during the mid 1970’s. Last major restoration efforts to the Wat and wooden houses on the property was in the mid 1990’s using traditional materials and techniques.
Wat Longkhoun is situated between Wat Sack Kalin to the north and Wat Chomphet to the south.