Wat Muang Kang

Southern Laos

About 5km south of town along the Mekong stands the oldest active temple in Champasak, and one of the most interesting in southern Laos. The soaring Thai-style ubosot (ordination hall), with its red-tiled roof (under reconstruction during our visit) and ring of pillars, is impressive, but the hŏr tąi (Tripitaka library), with its elements of Lao, Chinese, Vietnamese and French-colonial architecture, is striking.

The damaged, but still beautiful, tower supposedly holds Buddha images and, if you ask some locals, it has another magical purpose: in the middle of the night, a mystic light beam comes from across the river, bounces through a gâaou (crystal) and alights atop Sri Lingaparvata, the holy mountain above Wat Phu Champasak.

Almost all families in Muang Kang village weave bamboo sticky rice and various other baskets.

It's easy enough to reach Wat Muang Kang: head out of Champasak on the riverside road and continue south on the dirt road where the main road turns towards Wat Phu. Coming back, if you're on a bike or motorcycle, you can follow the pleasant narrow path directly on the riverfront for part of the way.

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