Vat Phou is an ancient Khmer temple site situated on a hillside in the Champasak province in southern Laos. The complex consists of temple pillars, walls, and doorways, along with the remains of palaces, courtyards, and a library. Vat Phou offers stunning views across the Mekong River, and there is also a natural spring that the locals believe produces holy water.
The ancient ruins of Vat Phou are even older than those of Cambodia’s Angkor Wat, and the site was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2001. One temple in the complex is said to have been built as far back as the 5th century, although most of the structures are from the 11th to the 13th centuries. The exquisite workmanship can still been seen today, with numerous Hindu carvings decorating the site. Because Buddhism replaced Hinduism in Laos in the 13th century, there are also various Buddha images to be found among the ruins, and the site remains an active Buddhist place of worship to this day.
Vat Phou can be accessed via the town of Pakse, located in the Champasak province of Laos. Visiting on the full moon of the third lunar month (which usually falls in February) will coincide with an annual week-long festival of ceremonies, celebrations, and entertainment.