Pakse – “A Particular Color” in Southern Laos
by Blake Johnson May 20, 2017
Pakse is the capital of Champasak province. It is situated at the mouth of Xedong and Mekong rivers, thus, it gets the current name which means the mouth of River Se. Known as the gateway to Southern Laos, Pakse is considered as one of the testaments to the long history of Laos with ancient wats and French colonial style buildings.
Pakse was the capital of the Champasak Kingdom until 1946 when the Lao Kingdom was established. During the French colonial period, Pakse was recognized as a place having the commercial advantage since it is located in the confluence of two rivers and near Thailand. Thus, the French made it become an administrative outpost in the South and the capital of Champasak province as we know today.
Things to See and Do in Pakse
1. Dao Heuang Market – The Hustling Atmosphere
The local market in Pakse is the place where you can get the real Asian market experience and see another aspect of Laotian’s life. Unlike the quite and solemn atmosphere in wats, the market is very busy and bustling. It supplies most of things people need in daily life from clothes, household goods, and shoes to fruit and vegetable. The sellers come from many villages in Champasak province and are very warm as well as hospitable. They are willing to recommend you the special food which you should give a try when you come to Pakse. Moreover, wandering around the market and listening to their stories are also very interesting.
2. Wat Luang Temple – The Brilliant Temple
Located near the centre of Pakse, this largest and significant temple attracts many travellers annually due to its unique beauty and value. Wat Luang temple was erected in 1935 and adorned with a lot of complicated carvings. From the entrance, visitors can find a big stupa and some stunning prayer halls. The main sanctuary leaves strong impression on visitors by its special decoration, excellent sculptures and colorful wall paintings which depict the Buddha life’s stories. Apart from religious function, the temple is also used as Buddhist school. Therefore, it’s not amazing when you can find an antique library and meet the monks coming here all day.
3. Wat Phabat – Reserving the Buddha’s Footprint
If Wat Luang is famous for its excellent beauty, Wat Phabat is well-known for its long history. This is considered as the oldest temple worshiping Buddha in Pakse and believed to protect the footprint of Buddha. This wat is larger than Wat Luang and captures the attention of visitors by several little colorful stupas which are recognized as the funerary monuments.
4. Vat Phou Salao – Relieving your mind
Buddhism has great influence on the life of Laotian. Therefore, your trip to Pakse will be not perfect if you miss out the chance to visit this destination. Climbing up the long stone stairway which was decorated with naga statues to reach the temple is worth thing to do because the Vat Phou Salao temple which has the impressive roof covered with blue tiles and quaint ornaments can amaze you at the first sight.
Moreover, the giant golden Buddha sitting solemnly on top of the hill assist this site to become an ideal place for those who want to escape the hustle and bustle of the city. Thanks to the special geographical feature, this hill is always chosen as a good spot to get the view of Pakse, especially in sunset and sunrise.
Except for these above sites, the Champasak provincial museum where the artifacts of bronze are displayed, Vat Phou Temple or Bolaven Plateau which is famous for the beautiful waterfall and dense jungle are also worthwhile paying a visit.
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