Laos: Wat Phou

This temple was pretty much the reason for coming to the southern Laos. A UNESCO World Heritage, War Phou is the largest and most impressive site outside of Cambodia’s Angkor Wat and it belongs to the same mighty Angkor empire with the road once connecting the two sites. Some sort of temple existed here at the foothills of Mount Phou since the 5th century, but the structures standing now date to the 11-13th century. The temple site is huge and dramatic. A long stone pathway leads toward the the first two palace temples – huge square courtyards with elaborately carved main buildings. Then the stone path continues steeply uphill to the main temple/shrine, surrounded by ancient trees and at the foot of the vertical cliff. Originally, there was a spring here and the water was considered holy and coming from Ganges (this was a Hindu temple back then). The temple overall may not be as refined or restored as those in Angkor, but the layout and the landscape at the foot of a mountain with a distant view of Mekong River are atmospheric and impressive