Pakse and the Golden Buddha

Introducing the Pakse Golden Buddha

Pakse is the capital city of Champasak Province in southern Laos. Historically speaking, the city of Pakse has its beginnings as a French administrative outpost. Pakse has become the economic center of trade in Champasak province 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 Golden Buddha.

mekong river bridge Pakse

Photo of Lao Nippon Bridge with Pakse in the background on the far side of the river.

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.

The 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.

naga statue pakse

stairway to the golden buddha pakse laos

After pausing for some photos we continued up the long flight of stairs.

King Mucalinda

These serpent deities are prevalent throughout both Hindu and Buddhism. 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. 

naga statue pakse

Golden Buddha In the Trees

After continuing up the stairs some tantalizing signs begin to emerge through the trees that reveal the objective of the climb.

golden buddha through the trees

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.

Stairs at Pakse Golden Buddha

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.

mekong river

Pakse Golden Buddha

Additionally, 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.

golden buddhas pakse

These smaller statues are less significant because the Golden Buddha is grand daddy of them all.

giant golden buddha pakse

New Years Eve in Pakse, Laos

Tonight was January 31st and it was New Years Eve. Visiting the Pakse Golden Buddha was a great start to our new years celebrations! Fortunately, we were staying on the top floor of the Champasak Palace and hopefully there would be some fireworks.

Last but not least, it was most appropriate to celebrate new years eve with a good bottle of Lao Lao.

lao lao

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.

champasak palace

 

Additional resources:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pakse
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mucalinda