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Angkor-style temple of Wat Phou - the highlights of Southern Laos

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Wat Phou (Vat Phou) is a ruined Khmer Hindu temple complex in southern Laos. It is located at the base of mount Phu kao, some 6 kilometres from the Mekong in Champasak Province. There was a temple on the site as early as the 5th century, but the surviving structures date from the 11th to 13th centuries. The temple has a unique structure, in which the elements lead to a shrine where a lingam dedicated to Lord Shiva was bathed in water from a mountain spring. The site later became a centre of Theravada Buddhist worship, which it remains today.


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Champasak is a land with long history and belongs to many empires. During the 10th to 13th century, it is a part of Cambodian Angkor Empire. This province then became a part of Lan Xang kingdom from the 15th to the17th century. It has been independent Lao kingdom since the 18th century. Pakse which is the capital city of province established in 1905.


Area: 15,415 km2

Population: 652,552 habitants

Wat Phu (Vat Phou)

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Wat Phu

Situated on a hillside, Wat Phu (meaning ‘mountain temple’) offers stunning views over the surrounding land and Mekong River. Wat Phu is considered one of the oldest archaeological sites in Laos named a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2002.

It is a great chance to explore the magnificent workmanship in this ruined Khmer temple complex in the form of temple pillars, terrace, courtyard, walls, doorways, shrine, library and palaces. Lao locals often emit holy water in a natural spring. One temple was constructed in 5th century but other parts of the complex were built between 11th and 13th century. The main materials for construction are original Khmer like sandstone, laterite and bricks.

Wat Phu has become an active temple for Buddhist religious practice because Buddhism replaced Hinduism in Laos in the 13th century. Moreover, there is a temple’s biggest annual festival with many impressive ceremonies and fun activities going on during the week-long period in February (the full moon of the third lunar month).

The event includes monk-blessing ceremonies, elephant racing, buffalo and cock fighting as well as a trade fair. It is never short of entertainment such as live music and traditional Lao dancing. Visitors can travel to Wat Phu from Pakse via land or by boat along the Mekong River Tour.


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