Culture in and around Champasak Town
Champasak, a place with so much history and tradition, largely untouched, is waiting to be discovered. From the ancient Vat Phou temple to the colonial mansions and the old Lao wooden stilt houses still in use, life seems much the same as it was centuries ago. Slow down to truly enjoy the charm of this little town and its surroundings.
Champasak was once a great and prosperous land, founded in 1713 by the Lao King Nokasad as one of three Kingdoms of Laos. It is fascinating to imagine the hive of trade and activity that went on here, with markets selling spices, rubber, wax, resin, skins, horns to traders from Thailand and Indochina. Champasak was greatly desired and fought over by its Cambodian and Siamese neighbours as well as the French colonial powers, and finally, after many skirmishes, it fell to the French in 1893. 50 years later in 1946, the French left Laos and Champasak lost its position and prestige, becoming a province under the first unified Laos.
Today, the once grand Champasak kingdom is a small and charming town on the Mekong River with a single main street. You can appreciate remnants of its centuries-old history in its preserved French colonial buildings, traditional Lao wooden homes and Chinese shopfronts. You will enjoy wandering around Champasak’s many beautiful temples including Vat Muang Kang, Vat Luang Kao and the Tomo Temple hidden away inside a forest.
One place that is sure to top your list is Vat Phou, Champasak’s famous Khmer Hindu complex and a UNESCO World Heritage temple. If you find that some of its design and structure looks similar to the much larger Angkor Wat in Cambodia, that’s because they were both constructed by the great Khmer king, Suryavarman II, in the 11th century. Vat Phou is truly an architectural marvel and a jewel in Southern Laos.