The styles of these Laotian Sanctuaries are determined by their positions in the community and the layout of the roofs : the vihans (sanctuaries) with circular naves, nearly all situated in the area of Luang Prabang, are in the style of this province. For the others, it is possible to differentiate the three principle styles :
- The style of Louang Prabang, is characterized by its huge pointed roofs made from flat tiles which are put down in successive layers, normally two or three, stopping only a few metres from the ground.
- The style of Xieng Khouang, presents an accentuated form of the characteristics described above : the roofs come nearly all the way down to the ground, and their cross sections are almost perfect pentagons. We can see in this style a provincial version of the Luang Prabang style, structures built in this way are nearly all situated in the province of Xieng Khouang, to the South-East of Luang Prabang. You can also see the original style of the Lao vihans, the style of Louang Prabang only representing the result of a long evolution; it would appear that the old vihans of Luang Prabang belong to the Xieng Khouang style.
- The style of Vientiane is a more tapering style, the part that the roof plays in the structure is less important here and the openings are higher.
Below, you can see the examples of these different styles in Louang Prabang :