Published/Last edited or updated: 24th January, 2017
Dating to the 19th century, Wat Muang Kang (also known as Wat Phuthavanaram) is Champasak’s oldest active temple. With a lovely position on the banks of the Mekong river, the wat possesses a stunning blend of architectural styles. The crumble and patina of age only enhances its beauty.
The main sim (chapel hall) inspires awe with grand pillars that soar up to a lofty sloped roof. The building was clearly influenced by Cambodian and Siamese architecture. Yet the charming two-storey library (Haw Tripitaka) steals the show. This building, with a distinctive three-tiered roof, blends Vietnamese, French colonial, Burmese and Lao architecture. The kuti (monks residences), the wooden stilt houses that flank the wat, are traditional Lao.
The unique blend of architectural styles, the Mekong location, the bamboo-lined pathway along the river—take a stroll at sunrise or sunset—the fact that monks continue to reside here and that few people visit all combine to make this unsung wat one of our favourites in Laos.
To find Wat Muang Kang, from the roundabout, head south 5 km (this is the same way to Wat Phu). The road veers right and after the entrance to Wat Louang Kao is a sign: 5 km straight to Wat Phu or left 2 km for “Vat Meuangkang”. Turn left, travelling south on the dirt road for 2 km. The village before and after the temple specialises in bamboo handicraft and its worth popping in to see them weave everything from baskets to large furniture.
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.