Published/Last edited or updated: 24th January, 2017
Also called Um Muang and Uo Moung, the ruins of Wat Um Tomo are found in the forest on the east side of the Mekong, were dedicated to Rudrani and during the Angkor Empire, it was one of 102 shrines built by King Yasovarman I across the Khmer kingdom.
A site of worship from the 7th to 9th century, like Wat Phu it was reconstructed during the 11th and 12th century. There’s very little left to see here except for a carving lined walkway, two smaller temple pavilions, one collapsed and the other precariously still standing, and the Tomo river. It’s a peaceful site but unless you’re fascinated by this sort of history, you may be disappointed by what you see (or don’t see). Having a guide, doing your own research will greatly enhance your appreciation for it as there is no information signage. The artefacts have been moved to the Wat Phu museum.
Wat Um Tomo is located where the Tomo river meets the Mekong, relatively close to the southern tip of Don Daeng. Boatmen in Champasak can take you there and back, the trip taking about an hour downstream, wait time as you visit the site, then 1.5 hours back. Try going early or late to avoid the worst of the midday sun on the boat. The tourist information centre can arrange a boat. Including Um Tomo and Don Daeng, we were quoted 350,000 kip.
Otherwise, the site is 45 km south of Pakse off Route 13 and it can be done as a half-day trip with a tuk tuk or motorbike, or we suggest a multi-day loop with motorbike or bicycle including Ban Nong Bueng woodcarving village, Ban Khiet Ngong in Xe Pian National Protected Area and Champasak. From the junction of Route 16 and 13 in Pakse, go south for 33 km. Turn right and travel another 4.7 km on the dirt road.
Cindy Fan is a Canadian writer/photographer and author of So Many Miles, a website that chronicles the love of adventure, food and culture. After falling in love with sticky rice and Mekong sunsets, in 2011 she uprooted her life in Toronto to live la vida Laos. She’s travelled to over 40 countries and harbours a deep affection for Africa and Southeast Asia. In between jaunts around the world, she calls Laos and Vietnam home where you’ll find her traipsing through rice paddies, standing beside broken-down buses and in villages laughing with the locals.
These tours are provided by Travelfish partner GetYourGuide.