Fodor's Expert Review Wat Visoun (Wat Wisunarat)
The 16th-century Wat Visoun and neighboring Wat Aham play a central role in Lao New Year celebrations, when ancestral deities, called Pou Nyeu Nya Nyeu emerge from Wat Aham and dance in the processions down Sisavangvong Rd. Wat Visoun was built in 1503, during the reign of King Visounarat, who had the temple named after himself. Within the compound is a large and unusual watermelon-shaped stupa called That Makmo (literally "Watermelon Stupa"). The 100-foot-high mound is actually a royal tomb, where many small, precious Buddha statues were found when Chinese Haw marauders destroyed the city in the late 19th century (these statues have since been moved to the Royal Palace). The temple hall was rebuilt in 1898 along the lines of the original wooden structure, and now houses an impressive collection of Buddha statues, stone inscriptions, and other Buddhist art.