Champasak - The Land of Nostalgia
by Top Mekong Cruises May 18, 2017
Travelling is the best way to touch the heart of Laos – one of the distinctive destinations in Asia. Each location adds different colors to Laos and makes Laos be a worth place for turning back. Thus, in the list for travelling, visitors can not miss out Champasak, which is considered as one of jumping-off points for sights in the land of million elephants. Champasak is blessed with incredible view with perfect setting in which mountain, ancient temples and modern life are in the hormony.
A Little about Champasak
Champasak is a province in southwestern Laos. It covers an area of 15,415 square kilometers and is contiguous to Cambodia and Thailand.
From 1st to 9th century, Champasak province was a part of the Funan and Chenla Kingdom respectively. In the period which is from 10th to 13th century, it belonged to the Angkor empire. However, when the Angkor empire fallen, Champasak was under control of Lan Xang. It became an independent kingdom having three monarchs: Soi Sisamut, Saignakuman and Fai Na in 18th century. When Laos was under the French colonial rule, Champasak was known as Bassac or Pasak – the shortening form of its real name.
Outstanding Attractions in Champasak
Being well-known as the site in UNESCO World Heritage List, Vat Phou always attracts a lot of visitors all year round. This pre-Angkor monument is situated in Phou Kao mountain and overlooks the Mekong River.
It originally was the Hindu temple, but later it changed to dedicate Buddha. The ruin complex was built in Khmer style with the aim of reflecting the Hindu’s vision about the relationship between people and nature. The special architecture in which the artificial lake representing the ocean, the Phou Kao mountain representing the home of Shiva god is one of the testament to the long history of the ruin complex. This site seems to make your watch turn back hundred years ago when you take the first step on the “ancient road” which is adorned with the sandstone posts on two sides. Moreover, before you come to the main sanctuary, you can find two ruin buildings and the Nandi hall which still remain the unique culture value thanks to their special structure and intricate Khmer carvings.
Crossing the beautiful stone stair, the main three-door temple which a gold Buddha sits in the centre room is available for you to contemplate. Being surrounded by lush green trees, the solemn temple being in ruin state captures the attention of visitors by its structure and stunning carvings on the lintels and the walls.
2. Golden Buddha – Impressive Attraction
The giant golden Buddha statue on a hill in Pakse, which is the capital of Champasak, partly shows the importance role of Buddhism in Champasak in particular and Laos in general.
From there you can get the magnificent views of Mekong river especially in sunrise and sunset. Because the Golden Buddha is put on the hill, visitors have to climb a long stairway to reach it. Do not feel boring since on the way to the hill, you can contemplate several impressive statues, for example, the Naga serpent deity protecting Buddha.
The giant golden Buddha sitting solemnly, along with smaller statues, definitely can help you calm yourself and feel relief.
3. Si Phan Don – Magical Place
Si Phan Don, which is known as 4000 islands in native language, is a group of small islands spread over the Mekong. However, the most impressive islands you must spend time visiting are Don Khong, Don Det and Don Khone (Don in Lao language means island).
Don Khong is the largest island in Si Phan Don archipelago. It leaves strong impression on travellers by the quite and unique life of the islanders, the rural landscape as well as ancient temple. Located on the Mekong river bank, there is no doubt that Don Khong is an ideal location for cultivating thanks to the alluvium soil. Thus, when you come to visit the two main villages in this island, they first welcome you by the large green field. Moreover, you can have chance to visit some stunning wat which dates back to hundred years ago with complicated wood carvings.
Don Det is small island and located in the middle of Mekong River. It does not have the stunning wat like in Don Khong but it offers you the beautiful beaches to swim and the kayak tour to see the Irawaddy dolphin. Don Det itself once played important role in transportation when Lao was the colony of French.
Unlike other islands, the outstanding highlight in Don Khone is water falls in which Li Phi Falls and Khone Phapheng Fall are the most atrractive. Li Phi Falls or Somphamit falls is considered as one of most spectacular natural spots with the rapid flow of water, stones and green trees.
Meanwhile, Khone Phapheng falls is well-known as Asia Niagara fall. It is the largest waterfall in Southeast Asia with a length of almost 10 km. Coming to these attractions, you can have a chance to listen about the legend of these spectacular falls.
4. Champasak Historical Heritage Museum – A Part of the Long History
As a good place to deepen your knowledge about Lao history, Champasak Historical Heritage Museum is worth visiting. Here displays the unusual stone carvings, document dating back 15th century, musical instruments and the jewellery collection of ethnic minorities.
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