A travel piece from the Bangkok post about traveling in Southern Laos – some of the ancient features being the Angkorian temples of Vat Phou and Vat Oum Muong.
The charms of Champasak
Bangkok Post, 02 June 2011
The hilltop Khmer temple is known as Vat Phou Temple complex. Listed as a World Heritage site in 2001, the Hindu shrine was built in the 7th century, during the pre-Angkorian period. The temple facing the river bank is 1.4 kilometres east to west, starting from lower land to the mountain top. At the entrance gate, you will see two large rectangular buildings believed to have been built for pilgrims. The buildings are under renovation with the cooperation with the Indian and French governments and are scheduled to be finished in 2017. The temple complex houses many beautiful lintels as well as stone apsaras decorating the walls of the main shrine like the design of Angkor Wat in Cambodia. To reach to the main shrine on the hill might be a bit of a challenge for the elderly to climb up the 77 steep steps. However, the view from the top is worth the effort. The sandstone ruins attract almost 500,000 visitors a year, half of them from abroad. Not far from the ruins is Vat Phou Museum which houses ancient items found in the temple and surroundings including linga and a variety of statues.