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Phou Salao, the best viewpoint of Champassak's heart

Welcoming Visit Laos Year 2018, Vientiane Times is publishing a series of feature articles and

photographs inviting you to experience the authentic nature, culture, history and hospitality of

South-East Asia's Simply Beautiful Laos.

We drove more than 700 kilometres from the Lao capital of Vientiane to Champassak province, with plans of visiting several tourist sites and promoting the region via the media for the Visit Laos Year 2018.

It was about 5 pm when we arrived in the central city of Champassak, and one of our friends who has lived for long in the province told us to visit the mountain from which we could get a view of the whole city.

The mountain, known as Phou Salao, is located close to the Lao-Japan bridge at Phonthong village of Pakxe district. As you get closer, you can see a large Buddha statue almost at the top of the mountain, similar to the big Buddha statues on many mountains in Laos. But this site is located very close to the central city, making it different from other places where the Buddha statues are usually outside the city.

This was not the first time I saw the Buddha statue on the mountain in Champassak province but this time, we decide to go up close and this was a great decision.

The sun was going down as we drove up to the mountain in a pickup truck. It took us about 10 minutes to drive along the asphalt road leading to the Buddha statue. During the drive, we saw many local residents walking, jogging or cycling up and down the mountain road.

The most beautiful viewpoint after sunset and before sunrise in Champassak province is Phou Salao temple.

The location is the best viewpoint for Champassak's central city. As we reached the parking area at about 6 pm, hundreds of small Buddha statues came into view on our right, with people offering prayers near them.

On their left, visitors can see the large Buddha statue facing out towards the the central city.

Local residents told Vientiane Times that Phou Salao is known for the historic story of “disappointed love” between prince Bagchieng of the northeast town and princess Malong of the west town. The neighbouring towns had always helped each other.

The kings of the two towns agreed to allow the prince and princess to get married but later the princess fell in love with someone else even as prince Bachieng was preparing to marry her. When the prince came to know about this, he didn't bother and let the princess go to do whatever she wanted to do.

Then, prince Bachieng and his troops decided to return home. On the way home, he and his troops visited many mountains and one of them was Phou Salao, where the prince and his troops drank some whiskey.

It's this historic tale that gives the mountain its name - Phou (mountain) and Salao (the waste of whiskey).

In 2013, authorities in Champassak province cooperated with local businesses and local residents to develop Phou Salao temple as a tourist site, and 200 steps as well as a new asphalt road for vehicles leading to the mountain top and the Buddha statue were built.

This natural and cultural tourist site in the central province of Champassak has a beautiful atmosphere and exquisite views of the nearby areas.

The local media has reported the spot is now popular with local and foreign visitors. Local residents always visit the site on religious occasions and hundreds of local people gather there every morning and evening to exercise.

What to see and do:

See the stunning view and sunset over the Mekong and Pakxe.

Explore the Vat Phou Salao and the magnificent golden Buddha statue.

Entrance fee: None

What to eat and drink:

You can get food in the parking area at the bottom of the temple or along the road. Bottled water is available near the viewing platform.

How to get there:

Catch a tuk tuk from Pakxe town. Try to visit either just before sunrise or in the late afternoon before sunset for the best views.


By Souknilundon Southivongnorath
(Latest Update August 19, 2017)

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