Vat Phu-Champasak-Laos

Vat Phou - Ancient Projects Print
Ancient research projects
1867: Francis Garnier, the French explorer of the Mekong, writes the first description of Vat Phou.


1907: Etienne-Edmond Lunet de la jonquière (EFEO) draws a map of Vat Phou and its surroundings.


1914: Henri Parmentier (EFEO architect) writes the first scientific report on Vat Phou.


Scientific research projects
1986: Protection plan of the Ancient City.


1991-1998: Archaeological activities.
The "Lao Archaeological Research Project" (PRAL) successfully completed by the French mission directed by Marielle Santoni (Guimet Museum-CNRS) in collaboration with the Lao Ministry of Culture. The excavations took place near the sacred spring, around the sanctuary and in various Pre-Angkorian temples located in the Ancient City.

"Safeguarding, Cartography and Study of the Archaeological Locations", a project by the Italian archaeological mission (Lerici Foundation) directed by Patricia Zolese in collaboration with the Lao Ministry of Culture. Mapping of the Ancient City, discovery of the city of Lingapura, mapping of various sites located along the Ancient Road towards Angkor (Cambodia).



Preparations for the Lao-UNESCO project
1987 and 1990: UNESCO-UNDP mission to identify the possibilities of restoration. A provincial decree approves the preservation of archaeological sites.


1996 - 1997: Lao-UNESCO project (Phase I) managed by the governments of Japan and Italy for the exploration, study and archaeological cataloguing of findings in the province of Champasak.


The project includes the following activities:
Systematic geophysical prospecting actions to locate structures in the Ancient City and in the temple of Vat Phou.
Geomorphological study for the reconstruction of ancient monuments.
Systematic protection, covering a territory about 400 km ².
Archaeological mapping, including the areas of temples, sites and covered hydraulic networks.
Geographic information system (GIS) to store collected data.

1997-1998: Lao-UNESCO project (Phase II) managed by the Italian government
Training in archaeology and history.
Inventory and catalog of the archaeological objects stored in Champasak.
Protection and mapping of the Khmer temples in the region of Champasak.
Analysis of the structure of the sanctuary and the monuments of Vat Phou.
Study of the hydraulic system.
Finalization of the project of Champasak heritage management.

"Heritage Awareness Through Community Outreach" (HATCH) project to mobilize and motivate local communities to participate in the preservation and in the proper usage of their heritage (in collaboration with the University of Waseda, Tokyo).

1998: The Lao government adopts the "Management Plan for Champasak Heritage", a plan  for the preservation and the protection of the archaeological area.

1999-2000: UNESCO-Laos-Italy mission, scientific research and assistance for the inscription to the World Heritage List.

1999-2002: Lao-UNESCO-Waseda University project for the local communities

2001: The archaeological area of Champasak is inscribed as a World Heritage Site.

2001-2003: Cooperation project between Laos and Japan 
Priority is given to preventing the erosion of structures' foundations. Installation of drainage system and canals.
Construction of a store room to protect antiquities and archaeological objects.
Courses about the restoration of stones and making plans.
Various types of equipment (cars, computers, data storage, ...).

2003UNESCO-Laos-Italy project
Preparation of the UNESCO mission - Phase III in 2004

2004: Lao-UNESCO project, managed by Italy
Consolidation of some structures 

2004: Archaeological studies in the World Heritage Area by Waseda University and Professor Massao Nishimura. 



Smoke-Free Area

Sights from Vat Phou

Hours & Admission

Open everyday:
8:00 am - 6:00 pm for the site
- 8:00 am 4:30 pm for the museum
(Ticket fee includes site entrance, museum entrance and electric car service.)

50 000 LAK

for Lao people: 20 000 LAK 


Possibility of visiting the site outside opening hours.
More details at: Hours & Admission.


This website has been produced within the framework  of French – Lao Cooperation Project: " Priority Solidarity Funds -  Vat Phou Champasak: Enhancement and development of the historical and cultural site".


Ministry of Information and Culture
Head Office of Heritage
Management Office of Vat Phou-Champasak





Ministry of Foreign Affairs
French Embassy in Laos
Cooperation and Culture Office