Pakse

The capital of the Champasak Province, Pakse was founded by the French in 1905. Although much of its colonial heritage was destroyed during the Second Indochinese War, it has retained its laidback atmosphere, which tourists long for.

Pakse, like most of the country, has Buddhist temples and monasteries. There are at least 20 wats in the area, and two of the biggest are named Wat Luang and Wat Thai Fam.

Wat Luang has a small school and a thaat (a commemorative structure) that holds the ashes of a former prime minister. Wat Thai Fam, on the other hand, is located near the Chamapasak Palace Hotel and is a favorite location for temple festivities. It also shelters a small Buddha image.

Pakse also boasts of its own World Heritage Site—the Wat Phu or “Mountain Temple.” Standing on a hillside, it offers a breathtaking view of the Mekong River and the area that surrounds it. Wat Phu is one of the oldest archaeological sites in the country; its walls and pillars, in fact, were built as early as the 5th century.

If you want to know more about the history of the province, you can go to Champasak Heritage Museum. Here you will find artifacts, pictures, and written documents that record the events leading to the formation of the region.

Plain of Jars

Of all Laos’ attractions, the Plain of Jars in Phonsavan is the most unique and mysterious. Stone jars carved from sandstone and granite lie across the vast Phonsavan grounds, with sizes varying from tinny-tiny ones to about 3.5 meters high.

No one knows exactly why these jars were made, although legends about them have been circulated. Some people believe they were used to keep rice wine, while others say they were for storing corpses.

Until now, the real purpose of these jars has not been confirmed.

Muang Khoun

Located southeast of Phonsavan, the town of Muang Khoun was once the royal capital of the Phuan Kingdom. With its architecture and landmarks, it blends Laotian culture with colonial legacies. French buildings still rise at the town’s center, as well as temples like Watt Si Phum, which houses a sitting Buddha. Vistas also surround this sleepy town. You can go hiking to see the entirety of the area, but expect that the spectacular view of the town, which is dotted with jars made of granite, will make you want to stay for a little longer.

Savannakhet

The architecture in the City of Savannakhet is perhaps one of the reasons tourists flood the area. Other than the usual Buddhist stupas, you will find Vietnamese temples and Catholic churches around the city. The peaceful subsistence of different religions in a small piece of land makes Savannakhet a place worth visiting.

Aside from having different religious buildings, Savannakhet is also home to a thousand-year old stone house called Heuan Hinh. Once used as a shrine by the ancient Khmer, it was intended to add magnificence and give glory to their growing kingdom. Unfortunately, most of its original carvings are lost, and the structure itself is in danger of collapsing.

Unlike Heuan Hinh, That Ing Hang Stupa has its fine carving and decoration intact. Said to house the remains of Buddha’s spine, it is considered a sacred stupa and an important place of prayer of both Lao and Thai Buddhists. Before entering the temple, females might be required to wear a traditional sarong to pay respect to the local culture.

 Vang Vieng

Vang Vieng is simply nature’s best. With mountains and rivers, caves and limestone cliffs, it is hard not to fall in love with its incredible beauty.

Small yet scenic, Van Vieng offers a lot of activities for the adventure-seeking soul. If you want to explore caves and caverns, Tham Poukham and Tham Norn are the perfect spots to visit. The former features what is now called the “Blue Lagoon,” a lovely spot to float around, swim, and swing on a rope. The latter, on the other hand, is among the largest caves in the area.

There is also Nam Song River, where you can enjoy the waters while basking in the sun. Besides swimming, you can also go kayaking, sailing, and tubing. Such water activities have gained much popularity so much so that tourists come to Vang Vieng just to try them. Rafting is also a must-try activity, as well as trekking through the hills and mountains.

If all you want to do is sit down and relax, you can just stay on the riverbank and watch the beautiful Laotian sunset. And if you are in luck, you might witness thousands of bats coming out of their karst homes in the evening to find food.

 

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