Ornate and numerous temples - known as wats - are centerpieces of the culture throughout Northern Thailand and Lao. They are the focal points for the people's devotion to Buddhism throughout the region.
"Beautifully decorated with mirrored shards, gold paint and colored glass, wats rise out of the dusty landscape like lotuses from a muddy-bottomed lake. Inside they are decorated with fastidious representations of The Ramayana and the life of the Buddha. The triple-tiered eaves (one for the Buddha, one for the teachings of the Buddha, and one for the followers of the Buddha) sweep low, a protecting apron guarded at both ends by ornately carved nagas – snakes that keep evil away. Inside, images of the Buddha crowd the altar, often speckled with gold leaf applied by the devoted. The high roofs keep the interior cool, the burning incense fill the senses with calm and the reverent prostration of the locals at the alter is a beautiful image of their love for the Buddha." (Levent Chalmers, posted on Adventure)