Stop at the base of Phou Tak Khao Mountain to visit Vat Nongsonghong and Phoupakeo Cave, which houses the Phrakeophalitmok Buddha chiselled from stone more than 100 years ago. In Salavan Town, wander down to the Xe Don River and Vat Simongkhoun.
Vat Simongkhoun: View the remnants of a 200-year-old temple now covered in vines, as US bombers destroyed the original Vat Simongkhoun on the Xe Don River in 1972. Remnants of this temple and its stupa can still be seen in the town’s northeast, though vines and shrubs try to hide it. Novice monks sometimes rest in the temple’s sala on the river bank near the warehouse storing longboats used during the annual boat racing festival. However, a new temple has risen across the street, and an even larger one is under construction next to it. Also across the street, another temple’s skeleton sits under a tree in a field in front of white, one-storey buildings. Upon closer inspection, visitors can see holes blasted in the walls by bullets and larger ordinance.
Location: Vat Simongkhoun is situated in the north-eastern part of Salavan Town on the Xe Don River.
Xe Set Bridge Temples: Two small temples are within easy walking distance from the tourist accommodation area in Tad Lo. The main temple sits on the eastern banks of the Xe Set River, some 500 metres downstream from the Xe Set Bridge, and across from the conservation area. The second can be found on the western bank along the trail between Tad Hang and Tad Lo.
Phou Tak Khao Viewpoint: Discover Buddhist relics on the Phou Tak Khao Trek. A 20-minute walk on a trail from Ban Thongkharm Village leads to the Phou Tak Khao Viewpoint, and the 9-Holes Cave complex accessed by continuing along a short trail after the viewpoint. Elders say the caves sheltered Buddha images, when the French destroyed the viewpoint’s temple more than 60 years ago. While there, visit the make-shift temple that locals built to house three life-size Buddha images, including one of stone that is more than 100 years old, and other smaller religious objects. For those overnighting in Ban Khanouan, trek further up the mountain to a small temple established by forest monks. From here, a challenging path leads to “Destiny Tree” with its naturally shaped Buddha image.
Location: From Route 20, turn near the Laongarm Market onto the westbound dirt road, which terminates at Ban Thongkharm and the trail to the viewpoint and cave.