Phou Si hill is a small mountain right in the middle of Luang Prabang town in Laos.
There are two temples on Phou Si hill, however, the real reason most people choose to visit Phou Si hill is for views from the top of the hill. The surrounding town and countryside is flat which makes Phou Si hill the best vantage point in the area.
About Phou Si hill
There are three different routes which you can take up Phou Si hill. What we recommend visitors to do is to start their ascent of the hill at the main entrance, which is on the opposite side of the road to Wat Haw Pha Bang, which is in the grounds of the Royal Palace.
From the main entrance there are 328 steps to climb to reach the top of the mountain. The route has no gate so you could walk up at any time of the day or night, although the most popular time to go is in the late afternoon when it’s a bit cooler and the sun shrines less brightly making the views better.
About half way up the hill is a ticket booth. It costs 20,000 Kip to walk to the top of Phou Si hill.
At the top of the hill is a small temple called Wat Chom Si. This temple has a small congregation hall with a shrine inside.
The temple was built in 1804 during the reign of King Anourouth. Wat Chom Si is in itself not particularly interesting, although the golden stupa at the top of the hill is impressive. It has a seven tiered golden parasol that can be seen glistening in the sunshine from most parts of central Luang Prabang on a clear day.
There is a viewing platform around the sides of the stupa which get very busy at sunset. From the platform you get unobstructed views of the surrounding area. Many people come here to take photographs.
Phou Si hill is a great place to come to get a sense of the local geography. Luang Prabang sits on a plain surrounded by distant hills sandwiched between two rivers. At street level in Luang Prabang you forget that Luang Prabang is located in the middle of nowhere; the surrounding area is very scarcely inhabited with very little infrastructure or major urban areas. Its fields, villages, forests and mountains and little else.
We recommend walking down via the other side of the hill via the other temple, Wat Tham Phou Si, because you get different views to those you would have seen when you walked up.
Wat Tham Phou Si is another small temple, with a fairly unremarkable congregation hall. What Wat Tham Si does have, however, is a collection of really interesting Buddha statues.
The statues are spread over a fairly wide area on the hill side and as you descend you need to leave the main path to get to all the different statues. We recommend spending a bit of time exploring the statues as they are interesting, both in terms of what they represent and as works of art in their own right.
From Wat Tham Si the path drops down to the Kingkitsarath Road, which is the main road which follows the course of the Nam Khan River. If you want to get back to where you started the walk near the Royal Palace all you need to do is to turn left, then left again at the first road you come to, and then left again along the Sisavangvong Road.
Location of Phou Si hill
Phou Si hill is located in the centre of Luang Prabang between the Sisavangvong and Kingkitsarath Roads.