Laos is a landlocked country in the central of the former French Indochina, it’s bordered by Myanmar and China to the northwest, Vietnam to the east, Cambodia to the southwest, and Thailand to the west and southwest. Throughout centuries, Laos has gathered influences from its neighboring countries and the colonial French. To value the cultural and natural treasure of this tranquil country, the UNESCO has recognized the remains around the Hindu temple of Vat Phou and the entire town of Luang Prabang as the World Heritage Sites.
Incense Travel would like introduces those two incredible heritage site of Laos, together with pictures, to keep in mind for your Laos itinerary.
1. Town of Luang Prabang
Located at the heart of a mountainous region in the northern Laos, Luang Prabang is built on a peninsula formed by the Nam Khan and Mekong Rivers. The Phou Thao and Phou Nang mountains encircle the town of Luang Prabang in lush greenery. During 14th and 16th century, Luang Prabang was the royal and religious capital of the wealthy Lane Xang Kingdom, which was also known as the Kingdom of a Million Elephants.
Luang Prbang is is exceptional for both its rich architectural and artistic heritage that reflects the fusion of Lao traditional urban architecture with that of the colonial era. The entrie town is today dedicated to tourism, with everything from former royal palaces to over 33 Wats (temples), on Laos’ itineraries. This former Royal capital still remains the main centre for Buddhist learning in Laos and is the perfect location for spiritual contemplation.
Luang Prabang is a town that gathers traditional Laos architectures and the French colonial buildings from the 19th and 20th century in a remarkably well-preserved blend of European and Asian cultures.
2. Vat Phou and Associated Ancient Settlements within the Champasak Cultural Landscape
This World Heritage Site of Vat Phou and Associated Ancient Settlements was built by the Khmer Empire between the 5th and 15th century, at the foot of a hill. The complex was shaped to express the Hindu vision of the relationship between humanity and nature, it lay out a geometric pattern of temples and shrines extending over some 10km.
Like most Khmer temples, Vat Phou is orientated towards the east, although the axis actually faces eight degrees south of due east, being determined primarily by the orientation of the mountain and the river.
The Phou Kao at the top, will immediately commands your attention because of its shape, which is identified in ancient times with the linga, the phallic symbol of Shiva, and its reputation as a sacred hill. The permanent spring, at the foot of the cliffs, is probably one of the main reasons that induced the ancient rulers of the area to establish a shivaist sanctuary at this location.
Associated with this religious complex, in the plain below, on the banks of the Mekong, is a pre-Angkorian city, the remains of which are barely visible on the ground, although they appear quite clearly on aerial pictures.