The Pakse Golden Buddha statue is the Dharma gem of Champasak Province. Additionally, Pakse is the provincial capital in southern Laos. Historically speaking, the city of Pakse has its beginnings as a French administrative outpost.
However in modern times, Pakse has become the economic center of trade in Southern Laos with the assistance of the Lao Nippon Bridge. Funded with Japanese aid, the bridge has further enabled Laos to trade with Thailand and other countries.
The bridge is important for trade but also because you must travel across the Mekong to visit other attractions such as Wat Phou and the Pakse Golden Buddha.
Pathway to the Golden Buddha
Across the Mekong, there is a giant Golden Buddha that watches over the city of Pakse. We had a clear view of the Buddha from our suite at the Champasak Palace.
Therefore, we were very curious and made it a point to go over and investigate. We discovered that the golden Buddha’s perch is a great vantage point to view the sunset over the Mekong. Plus, there is a nice hike involved that brought us past several impressive statues featuring Naga serpent deities that are guarding the pathway and also the Buddha himself.
These serpent deities are prevalent throughout both Hindu and Buddhist history. A prominent statue along the path features the Naga King Mucalinda protecting the Buddha in the forest.
The story behind this statue depicts the Buddha meditating under the Bodhi tree with a fierce storm approaching. However, King Mucalinda rose from beneath the earth and spread his hood over the Buddha to protect him until the storm had past.
Golden Buddha through the Trees
After continuing up the stairs some tantalizing signs begin to emerge through the trees that reveal the objective of the climb.
Unfortunately, it is easy to fall behind on the long flight of stairs. However, after a few minutes the other half of the tour group arrived on the top.
Sunset over the Mekong River
The sun was beginning to set as we arrived on the top of the Buddha’s hill. There were some amazing photos to be had of the Mekong River and the surrounding landscape.
Pakse Golden Buddha
Furthermore, there are many other smaller statues that are dedicated to Buddhism. Fortunately, this adds to the list of rewards that are presented after climbing the long flight of stairs.
New Years Eve Pakse, Laos
Tonight was December 31st and it was New Year’s Eve. Visiting the Pakse Golden Buddha was a great start to our new year celebrations! Fortunately, we were staying on the top floor of the Champasak Palace and we could enjoy some fireworks.
Review of the Champasak Palace
The Champasak Palace was not always a hotel. In fact, it was formerly the palace of a member of the Lao royal family named “Prince Boun Oum Na Champassak”. Unfortunately for the prince, it was necessary for him to abandon the palace and flee Laos after the Pathet Lao prevailed in the civil war that ended in 1975.
On the bright side, the Champasak Palace is now a hotel and we can enjoy it also. Although it is a palace, this does not mean that it is cost prohibitive. This is Laos after all, not London.
The views from the top floor are fantastic and everything in Pakse is within reasonable walking distance.