Heritage Sites

Walk through the looking glass into a land that time forgot. Explore vine-covered ancient cities. Follow the rise of the Lane Xang Kingdom through French colonial presence. And witness the revolution that overcame all odds.

Heritage Sites

Northern Laos Heritage Sites

Bokeo: Climb to Fort Carnot, colonial France’s western-most Indochinese stronghold. Venture to the Golden Triangle and Souvannakhomkham, the centre of an ancient kingdom. Climb a hill to the French Colonial fort overlooking the Mekong and potential foe, Siam. Located on a hill overlooking Houay Xay and Chiang Khong, Thailand, Fort Carnot stood as colonial France’s western-most Indochinese stronghold.

Houaphanh: Serving as the Pathet Lao revolutionary movement’s command centre from 1964-1975, Viengxay’s “Cave City” housed some 20,000 people, government offices, temples, markets, schools, hospitals, theatres, and factories. You can take a tour of the caves. Start your tour in the garden of the Cave’s Visitor Centre, and be sure to grab a guidebook for the 15-plus-cave audio tour of the sites you’ll see.

Luang Namtha: Immerse yourself in the heritage of Northern Luang Namtha, an area rich in ancient heritage and a critical outpost for French colonial troops and Lao independence fighters. Explore the ruins of a hidden hilltop forest temple inside an ancient city dating to the 1300s, and which flourished during the 16-18th centuries. Vat Mahapot and its domain served as an important trading hub between China and Siam.

Luang Prabang: Looking for heritage sites in Luang Prabang? Just step outside your hotel and land in a pristine UNESCO World Heritage City. You can even stay in 100-year-old French colonial buildings converted into accommodation. In the Lane Xang Kingdom’s ancient capital, heritage and Buddhism merge to present one encompassing heritage site. Explore Luang Prabang’s outstanding example of preservation.

Oudomxay: Discover Oudomxay’s heritage at the provincial museum, the Toung Dai Vietnamese war memorial, and Ban Na Xieng Di’s archaeological sites. Climb to the top of Phou Sebey to visit the provincial museum in an old French army camp. The troops called the mountain “CB”, which locals transcribed into Sebey. The hilltop museum grounds present excellent views of Muang Xay, especially at sunrise.

Xaysomboun: Tap into a piece of Lao heritage few have seen. Visit the vacation home of King Sisavang Watthana. Explore the 2 x 2-metre Khoum Molakot Battle Bunker built from bombshells in 1969, by General Vang Pao’s troops. Inspect the cave complex that hid King Anouvong from the invading Siamese army. And be sure to stop at Vang Pao’s 21-room house near the old Long Cheng Airfield.

Xieng Khouang: Welcome to the Plain of Jars, a jumble of prehistoric urns scattered in 90-plus sites. Ponder how ancient man moved giant vessels from the Phou Kheng Jar Quarry Site, where you can climb stairs to the hilltop “Secret Tunnel”, an Indochina War lookout. At Khoun, examine a French colonial city wall and the remains of a colonial hospital.

Central Laos Heritage Sites

Vientiane Capital:  The tree-lined Lane Xang Boulevard hosts loads of Heritage Sites. At one end, you’ll find the Presidential Palace designed in French colonial architecture. At the other end, inspect Vientiane’s best known landmark, Patuxay Monument. Lane Xang’s tree-lined avenue presents French colonial architecture, with the Presidential Palace standing at is head and Rue Setthathirath passing its front gate.

Khammouane: Once a colonial Mekong River landing, Old Thakaek has transformed its 100-year-old French structures into guesthouses and restaurants, which huddle around the Night Market. South of town, a massive statue of 8th century King Sikhot stands at the entrance to the ancient Sikhottabong Stupa. You’ll find a 75-metre-long stretch of the 9th-century Kampaeng Yak (Giant Wall).

Savannakhet: Tackle Savannakhet’s heritage sites on its five circuits. Start with a town heritage tour that takes in French colonial structures, including Chaleun Theatre’s Art Deco façade, Saint Theresa Catholic Church, the Deer House, and the residence of the first Lao Prime Minister Kaysone Phomvihane. Near That Ing Hang, you’ll find the ruins of the ancient Phonsim settlement and the town wall atop a hill.

Southern Laos Heritage Sites

Champasak: Champasak’s heritage is a world away from most of the country’s ancient past. Look no further than the pre-Angkor, 5th-century Khmer capital of Shrestapura starring the Vat Phou UNESCO World Heritage site. Investigate ancient temples, reservoirs, rock quarries, irrigation systems, settlements, and the ancient road to Angkor Wat. Fast forward to 1900 and colonial France’s attempt to conquer the Mekong.

Salavan: Salavan’s past is shrouded in war. Visit Ong Keo Stone Stupa, a cement-less and growing pyramid of rocks commemorating a local revolutionary. Travel from Salavan Town to Toumlan to see the bombed out ruins of Khua Ban Darn Bridge, or head higher into the mountains to find remnants of the Indochina War on the Ho Chi Minh Trail. Don’t miss this one-of-a-kind stupa commemorating Ong Keo.

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