The original capital city of Xieng Khouang, Muang Khun, was almost totally obliterated by US boming and consequently the capital was moved to nearby Phonsavanh. Of several Muang Khun Buddhist temples built between the 16th and 19th century only ruins remain. Vat Pia Vat, however, survived the bombing and can be visited.
There are various spellings to the name - Muang Khuang, Muang Khoune - the most recent one is Muang Khun. It was Xieng Khouang at the beginning. It is Xieng Khouang province's ancient capital until replaced by Phonsavanh. Ancient Xieng Khouang was such a woeful and distressing town and so much bombed that by 1975 all its inhabitants had fled.
After 20 long years people began to return. There are about 14,000 people today. Most of them are the native Phuan people with a mixture of Thai Dam, Thai Neua, Lao and Vietnamese. The grand colonial buildings are gone. In their place are wooden rows of shop houses with metal roofs lining both sides of the unpaved main road.
The fine Buddhist temples have fallen into ruins - all that remains of them are the foundation, columns and a big Buddha in the seated position of Wat Si Phum located to the east of the town. Another temple that survived the bombings is Wat Phia Wat. But all that remains of it are the That Phuan chedi constructed in the Lanna style and a few Buddha statues.