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Overview

Champasak has become one of the most-visited provinces in Laos, with the archaeological site of Wat Phu Champasak and natural attractions of the Mekong River islands and the Bolaven Plateau drawing most of the visitors. The regional history begins with the Funan and Chenla empires that flourished from the 1st to 9th centuries AD. Later between the 10th and 13th centuries, Champasak joined the Angkor empire, centered in Cambodia. Following Angkor's decline in late 17th century, it was enfolded into the Lan Xang kingdom, only to break away to become an independent kingdom at the beginning of the 18th century. Today Champasak Province has a ...

Champasak has become one of the most-visited provinces in Laos, with the archaeological site of Wat Phu Champasak and natural attractions of the Mekong River islands and the Bolaven Plateau drawing most of the visitors. The regional history begins with the Funan and Chenla empires that flourished from the 1st to 9th centuries AD. Later between the 10th and 13th centuries, Champasak joined the Angkor empire, centered in Cambodia. Following Angkor's decline in late 17th century, it was enfolded into the Lan Xang kingdom, only to break away to become an independent kingdom at the beginning of the 18th century. Today Champasak Province has a population of about 500,000 including lowland Lao (many of them Phu Thai), Khmers and a host of small Mon-Khmer groups, most of whom live in the Bolaven Plateau region. From Champasak the Mekong River begins broadening until it reaches its widest point on its long journey from the Tibetan Plateau to Vietnam’s Mekong Delta. At a cluster of sandy river islands collectively known as Si Phan Don (Four Thousand Islands), the Mekong may measure up to 9 miles wide during the rainy season. The largest of the islands, Don Khong and Don Khon, cradle some of the country’s most traditional lowland Lao villages, a culture "more detached from time than from the riverbank" as one early visitor described it.

Joe Cummings
About the Expert

Joe Cummings has contributed to more than 35 guidebooks, maps, atlases, phrasebooks and photographic works, including his bestselling Lonely Planet Thailand and Buddhist Stupas of Asia: The Shape of Perfection.

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Facts at a Glance

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    November through February (cool and dry); June to October (warm and rainy)