experience southern laos
Follow the ancient Khmer road by bicycle
The monumental ancient Khmer road, which originally stretched from India to Cambodia, crosses Champasak where Vat Phou was a major pilgrimage point. The oldest historical remains of Champasak have traces of more than a thousand years of human occupation that are still gradually being brought to light since the notes of the first explorers to the present time. The architecture of the various monuments of the Ancient City is organized in an axial figure, from Hong Nang Sida, through Vat Phou and Nong Din Chi, a site recently discovered on the Phou Malong mountain, which is located on the Pakse road to Champasak.
This architectural, cultural and historical mosaic makes Champasak an absolutely fascinating place, all in a landscape of shimmering colours, the tranquility of the Mekong, and mountainous panoramas. You spend the day travelling on a section of this mystical route to discover its many secrets.
The famous Vat Phou temple, or “Mountain Temple”, and many archaeological sites in the area are classified as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. The construction of Vat Phou began in the ninth century on the sacred mountain of Phou Khao, and was the second Buddhist site in Laos, which hosts more than 100,000 visitors each year during its festival. From our hotel, you follow the old wall of the city to Vat Phou. From the site on the summit of Phou Khao, you can enjoy a breathtaking panorama, and the temple, although small, is captivating and has offered the most important archaeological discoveries made so far in the region of Champasak.
At the top of the mountain is a sacred spring known for its “straight from paradise” water, with which the Laotians make purifying ablutions and collect in bottles for its healing properties. While walking on the heights of Phou Khao, you will also see strange rocks in the shape of an elephant with mystical engravings.
After the visiting the temple, you visit the museum of Wat Phou, where you will find detailed information on the sites of the region as well as many artifacts.
You continue your cycle ride to the site of Hong Nang Sida, around 2.5 kilometres south of Vat Phou. This temple was built by a king whose daughter sacrificed her life to save her father’s. The latter, overwhelmed by this gesture of ultimate love, dedicated a temple to his daughter which was discovered in an almost entirely collapsed state. Each of its stones and artefacts are currently listed in detail for a major restoration project that you can see the progressing. You enjoy a picnic lunch enjoying the tranquility of nature near the Hong Nang Sida, and continue your ride on the ancient Khmer Road. We will end the day at the “Three Towers” site, or Pha That Sam Pang. From here you will be driven back to the hotel in a minibus.
Estimated time: 8-9 hours
Note: Remember to protect yourself from the sun with a hat or cap, sunglasses and sunscreen. When visiting traditional villages or temples, consider wearing loose and comfortable clothes that cover your knees, shoulders and cleavage. Also plan for comfortable shoes.
This excursion may not be possible during the rainy season.