The sharper edge to traveling in Asia

Touring the untraveled Wat Phu Champasak in Western Laos

Written By: herbrunbridge - Apr• 30•10

The temple of Wat Phu Champasak is located on an unspoiled hillside setting, and its original structures date from approximately the 7th century ACE. Arranged on three levels, Champasak’s upper-level sanctuary provides a stunning view of the countryside, including the remaining baray (pond). Wat Phu Champasak boasts wonderful lintel carvings, bas-relief apsaras (dancers), and is in a state of semi-decay, devoid of over-restoration. A great element in the overall beauty of this temple is that it’s relatively untraveled, and you won’t see hoards of tourists there anytime soon. In fact, we had it all to ourselves. Your visit begins by traveling to the town of Pakse. 

To get to Pakse:
From Laos, there are daily flights from Vientiane, via Savannakhet, to Pakse, a pleasant border town 50 km from Wat Phu Champasak. 

From Thailand, fly to Ubon Ratchathani.   The Chong Mek border station is 95 km from the airport, and you can hire a taxi straight to the post for 900 baht (on our return, we jumped on the Chong Mek-Bangkok bus—there are two daily — and paid 50 baht to Ubon).  After paying $30 USD for a Lao visa-on-arrival, a Lao taxi will take you to the town of Pakse for approximately $5 USD. 

To get to Wat Champhusak:
Wat Phu Champasak is 50 km from Pakse. In Pakse, you can find a tour that will charge you approximately $30 USD to visit the Wat. You can also take one of the roughly scheduled local buses from Pakse’s New Market (approximately 1.5 hours, at $2 USD).  As return buses to Pakse are irregularly scheduled, we decided to make the trip by motorbike, which we hired ourselves for $10 USD. 

Directions by motorbike from Pakse to Wat Phu Champasak:  Follow Road 13 south out of Pakse approximately 8km, then turn right at the sign saying “Khong Island 120” (GPS N15°06.911’  E105°52.370’).  Continue for approximately 22km at the Wat Phu Champasak sign, at GPS N14°55.739’  E105°56.208’. Several kilometers later, you’ll arrive at the Muang ferry crossing at the Mekong. After crossing, turn left at the main road, and continue to Wat Phu Champasak’s main gate at GPS N14°50.837’  E105°49.234’

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