Wat Phu (Vat Phou) is an ancient Khmer temple that dates back to the 11th century.
Added to the UNESCO World Heritage list in 2001, Wat Phu has become one of the most visited historical monuments in Laos. Excavations have found the remains of earlier structures that date to sometime in the 5th century, but current structures found on the sight are attributed to the 12th century King of the Khmer Empire, Suryavarman II, the same leader credited with founding Angkor Wat in Cambodia.
Hinduism was the state religion during the early centuries of the Khmer Empire before largely being replaced by Buddhism. The temple was originally dedicated to the Hindu deity Shiva, and the majority of the bas relief sculptures and other decorations in the temple grounds depict the god’s exploits. Today, the ancient temple is a thriving center for Theravada Buddhism, and orange clad monks wrapped in meditation are a common sight, and a number of Buddha images inhabit the central shrine. From the terraces of the shrine, you can look back towards the Mekong River and see the light profile of the gridded cityscape that once occupied the plain below the temple.
For the best weather, visit the area during the dry season that runs between November and May. The ambient temperature begins to rise steadily in June, and the higher temperatures continue into October, but the increased rainfall during the second half the year makes the country’s landscape particularly beautiful during the wetter months.
Wat Phu is located about five miles from the modern city of Champasak in Southern Laos, which can be reached in a private vehicle in about an hour from Pakse to the north. The city of Pakse is best reached via direct flight to the Pakse International Airport.
As one of only two UNESCO World Heritage sites in the country, we consider Wat Phu a must-see for guests on our luxury tours of Laos.
Appropriate Attire :
As Wat Phu is an active center for Buddhist worship, visitors should dress in modest attire that covers at least their shoulders, arms, and knees while exploring the ruins of this 11th century Khmer Temple.