- Location: Located at the base of mount Phu Kao in the Champasak province in southern Laos, about 6 km away from the Mekong River.
- Attraction Type: World Heritage Site
- Significance: It is known to the whole world for the ruined Khmer Hindu temple.
- Best time to Visit: November to February.
- How to Reach: If you are coming down by air, you need to land at Pakse. Take a car from Pakse to reach Wat Phou.
- Nearest Airport: Pakse International Airport
It’s a ruined Khmer Hindu temple that has been attracting thousands of travelers from all parts of the world every year. No matter you are a Hindu or not, you must come to visit the place. Located at the base of mount Phu Kao in the Champasak province in southern Laos, about 6 km away from the Mekong River, the site of Wat Phou is full of archaeological brilliance.
During the 5th century, there was a temple on the site of Wat Phou. However, the surviving structures that one can see at Wat Phou date back to the 11th to 13th century. It is the unique structure of the temple that made it popular among the tourists. The elements in the temple lead to a shrine, where a linga was bathed in the mountain spring water. Later, Wat Phou, also known as Vat Phou, became a center of Theravada Buddhist worship, which can even be found today. Wat Phou, along with the associated ancient settlements within the Champasak cultural landscape has been designated as UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Visiting Wat Phou
Wat Phou, like most Khmer temples, is oriented towards
the east. It, along with the barays, stretches 1.4 km east from the source of the spring. Among all the baray, only one contains water currently. It is lies directly along the axis of the temple. Further to the north and south of it, there are a few more reservoirs. There are also water bodies on each side of the causeway between the middle baray and the palaces.
There are two palaces, know as the north and south palaces, on the terrace on each side of the axis. These were perhaps the palaces for the men and women, though there wasn’t enough evidence found to support this theory. The palaces consisted of rectangular courtyard with a corridor and entrance. There were false doors at the east and west ends as well. The courtyards of both the buildings as well as the walls of the northern palace were made up of laterite walls, whereas the walls of the southern palace were built of sandstone. Nowadays one can find the northern building in a better condition.
You can also visit the central sanctuary here. The sanctuary has got two parts. The first part, made up of sandstone, has got images of Buddha. The other part used to contain the central linga and is currently empty. There is also a library in poor condition, located at the south of the sanctuary. Also there is a Hindu trinity to the northwest of the sanctuary.