Vat Phou

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Ideal duration: 1

Nearest Airport: Pakse International Airport Check Flights

Best Time: October to February Read More

"A 10th century Angkor Temple Ruin"

Vat Phou Tourism

Wat Phou or Vat Phou is an ancient Angkor temple ruin located on the banks of the Mekong river close to the city of Pakse in southern Laos. The temple is known for its splendid Khmer architecture and is one of the top attractions among tourists visiting Pakse, which is recognized as a UNESCO listed heritage site.

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History & Significance of Vat Phou

Wat Phou translates to the mountain temple in the Khmer language. It was built in the 10th century and is one of the oldest temples constructed in the Khmer empire, even before the well-known Angkor Wat. The temple underwent additions and renovations throughout the rule of this kingdom until the 14th century.

The Wat Phou is located at the foot of Phu Kao mountain overlooking the Mekong. During the Khmer times, this mountain was called Lingaparvata or the mountain of Shiva, due to the shape of its top, which resembles Linga or Hindu God Shiva. The mountain was sacred to the locals. The temple was initially dedicated to Shiva but was later converted to a Buddhist temple in the 13th century when Buddhism was the religion propagated by the kings.

The UNESCO listed heritage site consists of the ruins of two ancient cities named Lingapura and Shrestrapura and the Phu Kao mountain. Shrestapura was built around the 5th century before the Khmer period, while Lingapura or the town of Lingas was a Khmer city established in the 12th century dedicated to Shiva.

Architecture of Vat Phou

The architecture of Wat Phou is a typical Khmer style of temple-mountain. Two levels of moats filled with water surrounding the temple, only ruins of which remain today. These reservoirs symbolise the ocean surrounding Mt.Meru, which is at the centre in Hindu mythology. The complex faces east, another characteristic of Angkor temples.

Wat Phou was built on seven elevated terraces aligned in the direction facing the Mekong and the mountains. Crossing the walkways on the remains of the moat leads to two palaces Ho Thao and Ho Nang within the temple premises. These were large halls used to perform ceremonies and Hindu rituals.

Between these palaces, there are many smaller structures, including brick towers with intricate carvings of Hindu Gods. At the centre is the main sanctuary located on the highest terrace on the 7th level. At 70 meters high, it offers some fantastic views of the nearby villages and the Mekong. The sanctuary housed a linga around which a stream passed. Now it consists of a giant seated Buddha with three other images of Buddha.

The notable feature of this temple are the elaborate carvings on the walls, lintels and pediment including sculptures depicting the Hindu mythological characters and scenes from epics like Ramayana.

Tips While Visiting Vat Phou

  • There are no ATMs near Wat Phou or in the nearest towns. It is better to carry sufficient cash. There are very limited options for food and drinks. So carry your snacks and water.

  • There are no public toilets too.

  • Accommodation options are limited in the town and can get booked during the peak season. It is recommended to book hotels and guesthouses in advance.

  • Since it is a sacred temple, it is expected to dress appropriately. You need to cover your back, shoulders and knees. Remove sunglasses, shoes and hat before entering the temple premises. Carry sunscreen, umbrella or a hat for the sun and raincoats as well.

  • Also, it is recommended to wear good walking shoes as it involves a lot of walking around.

Vat Phou Photos

Vat Phou

FAQs on Vat Phou

What's great about Vat Phou?

Visiting Wat Phou is an excellent place for travellers to know about Khmer history and architecture.

What are the timings to visit Vat Phou?

The timings are 8 AM to 5 PM

What is the entry fee for Vat Phou?

The entry fee is 50,000 LAK per person for foreign tourists

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