The Vat Phou archaeological site is a monumental Khmer-style religious complex and a large double-enclosed city, from the pre-Angkorian period, between the 5th and 7th centuries. It is declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO and is one of the most beautiful places to see in Laos.
In this post I tell you a little more about the history of the place and how to visit and what to see at the Vat Phou Archaeological Site.
THE VAT PHOU ARCHAEOLOGICAL SITE, LAOS
The Vat Phou archaeological site is located one hour from the city of Pakse and to get there you must hire a taxi or go on your own with a rental car or motorcycle. To visit the complex I recommend getting up early and being there at 8:00 a.m. when they open. The heat and humidity in the area is intense and as the day progresses it becomes more difficult to navigate the complex.
A little history about the Vat Phou archaeological site
It is estimated that this archaeological site was built two centuries before Angkor Wat in Cambodia. The entire complex was built by the Khmers who ruled Laos between the 10th and 12th centuries. In its beginnings, the temple was Hindu. The complex was built between the Mekong River and the mountains that surround it. The complex also houses two cities, sanctuaries, temples and hydraulic works that extend over 10 kilometers.
The religious complex of the site is next to an ancient city that includes many remains of buildings. In addition, currently there is a museum that presents a global exhibition of the site and what it had been like in ancient times.
WHAT TO SEE AT THE VAT PHOU ARCHAEOLOGICAL SITE, LAOS
Once you enter the site you will be able to see two artificial ponds, two barays and a path that lead you to the two main temples; the North Palace (which was the men's palace) and the South Palace (which was the women's palace). Located one in front of the other. In ancient times, these two palaces were also used as places of worship. You will be able to appreciate beautiful architecture and decoration based on Hindu sculptures.
The next stop in the complex will take you to see two buildings that date back to the 13th century. Climbing the stairs will lead you to a terrace where there are several representations of Shiva in the form of a Linga. From this terrace, you will also have incredible views of the premises.
The main Sanctuary dates back to the middle of the 11th century and you can access it through three doors. The south gate, the east gate and the north gate. At the back of the sanctuary there had been in ancient times a spring of sacred water that passed through a small temple that was embedded in the cliff.
The entire site takes on a very special air and in many moments it reminded me of Angkor Wat. It is full of nature, even many of the ruins have plants and greenery everywhere. Is beautiful.
There are remains of trails that had previously been paved. Remains of residential buildings, ruins of temples... get lost to discover every corner. There are also several statues to which homage and worship are paid. And you can see that there are offerings, lit incense, fresh flowers...
INFORMATION FOR VISITING VAT PHOU
Hours: From 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Price: 50,000 Kips per person
Time needed to visit: 2 to 3 hours
Guided tours: It is possible to hire a local guide at the entrance to the complex
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