Photo: At Wat Phiawat.

Muang Khoun

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Once the royal seat of Phuan Kingdom in the 14th century, and more recently the provincial capital during French colonial times, prosperous Muang Khoun was renowned for its lavish stupas and temples before suffering a series of attacks.

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First plundered by the Chinese Haw bandits in the 19th century, then devastated by heavy bombardment during the war, it is said that bombing destroyed everything except for Wat Phiawat, That Dam and one French colonial building. The provincial capital was subsequently moved to Phonsavan and today, Muang Khoun has been rebuilt from the ashes into a small town that doesn’t warrant an overnight stay. It can though be of interest as a daytrip from Phonsavan.

Old and new at That Dam. Photo taken in or around Muang Khoun, Phonsavan, Laos by Cindy Fan.

Old and new at That Dam. Photo: Cindy Fan

Travelling 30 kilometres down paved Route 1D which runs eventually to Paksan on the northern bank of the Mekong River, the first temple that heralds the arrival into Muang Khoun is That Dam, the ruins of a stupa just off the main road on the righthand side in the grounds of Wat Si Phom. The temple was the town’s most sacred, but like everything else in town, was obliterated and the building is now a modern construction.

The first road on the left after the market leads up to the top of a hill dominated by two stupas, That Foun and That Chomphet. A ticket costs 10,000 kip, and included in the price is use of one of the cleanest loos at any attraction in Laos. Toilet facilities aside, 30-metre That Foun was built in 1576 and housed a treasure trove until those pesky Chinese invaders burrowed in and plundered it. It was rebuilt after the war but when we visited in 2018, things were looking dire as the crumbling structure was covered in bamboo scaffolding and seemed to be getting redone with new bricks.

That Foun is a bit Work In Progress. Photo taken in or around Muang Khoun, Phonsavan, Laos by Cindy Fan.

That Foun is a bit Work In Progress. Photo: Cindy Fan

Further along the ridge is a less elegant pile of bricks. That Chomphet, built around the same period as That Foun, and also levelled by bombs. The current stupa is quite dilapidated, but it offers a good view of the town and ... Travelfish members only (Around 600 more words) ... please log in to read the rest of this story.

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Muang Khoun
Around 30km from Phonsavan

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