Champasak's History

Surround yourself in Champasak’s amazing ancient history dating 2,000 years.

Champasak’s History


According to several historians, Champasak Province was part of the Funan and then Chenla Kingdoms from the 1st to 9th centuries. The oldest historical reference related to the “Ancient City” is found in a Sanskrit stele dating to the second half of the 5th century. Archaeological research has led to the Ancient City being identified as Shrestapura.

Shrestapura is a unique example of early urbanism in Southeast Asia dating from the 5th to 7th centuries. Other inscriptions found in the area describe the political importance of Shrestapura, which was probably founded by King Shrestravarman. It stood as the Chenla Kingdom’s capital until the reign of King Mahendravarman in the 7th century.

Archaeologists discovered the remains of a once grand city and temple complex, known today as Vat Phou, as well as by many other Khmer artefacts throughout the province. The first Lao Kingdom, Lane Xang, was established in the 14th century by King Fa Ngum after he conquered and unified the north, including Luang Prabang and Xieng Khouang, as well as the area of present day Champasak Province.

Luang Prabang remained the administrative seat of Lane Xang until King Saysethatirath moved the kingdom’s capital to Vientiane in 1560. After the death of Surigna Vongsa in 1694, Lane Xang broke up into three separate kingdoms: Vientiane, Luang Prabang, and Champasak.

During the 18th and 19th centuries, Champasak was ruled by a royal family apart from Vientiane and Luang Prabang. When Laos was colonised into French Indochina during the 19th and 20th century, Champasak also became part of the colony. During this period, the royal family of Champasak continued to rule under the new colonial administrative system. At the beginning of the 20th century, political administration was moved to Pakse, while the royal family remained in Champasak Town.

In 1946, the Champasak Kingdom was reduced to the status of a province in the first-ever united Kingdom of Laos, which on 2 December 1975, became the Lao People’s Democratic Republic. The last king of Champasak, Chao Boon Oum, fled to take refuge in France at this time.

Source: Lao Ministry of Information, Culture, and Tourism