Category: News @ Vat Phou.

Over 80,000 flock to Laos’ Vat Phou Festival

More than 80,000 people attended the annual Vat Phou Festival in Laos’ Champassak province which ended on Saturday (January 30), with the surge in visitors causing traffic jams on the last two nights of the event.

Vat Phou is the second World Heritage Site in Laos, after the Unesco added the temple complex to its list in 2001.

The first area to be declared a World Heritage Site in Laos was the ancient city of Luang Prabang, added in 1995.

Champassak World Heritage Site office director Khankham Keanboudta said he was very surprised to see so many people flocking to the festival in Champassak district.

“It is very special that this year a total of 80,000 visitors came to our festival, according to our ticket sales figures,” he said.

He said the crowds of people and vehicles caused traffic jams, particularly on the evenings of January 29 and 30. The district had to add two more ferry terminals on either side of the Mekong River between Meuang village in Phathoumphone district and Phaphim village in Champassak district.

Thirteen ferries carried people and vehicles across the river from morning until late in the evening. Normally only one ferry terminal is open.

“This year we attracted more people because we had more activities than last year, especially lighting 4,000 oil lamps in the grounds of the ancient temple, floating candles on the lake and releasing lanterns into the night sky,” Khankham said.

The event also included cultural performances from neighbouring countries.

“Next year, it will be easier to visit our district for the annual festival because the 25km road from Huay Fek village in Phonthong district to Phaphim village in Champassak district will have asphalt paving,” he said.

The new road will allow drivers to cross the Laos-Japan Bridge over the Mekong between Pakxe and Phonthong districts to reach Vat Phou.

The festival’s the trade fair opened at the revered temple in Champasak on January 25, which featured 175 booths offering local crafts and ethnic products. On the second day visitors enjoyed a football tournament between local teams

On the third day, January 28, a traditional procession took place before the official opening of the religious festival.

In the final three days the faithful paid homage to Buddha and games were held, including bamboo climbing, cock fighting, petanque, volleyball, sepak takaw, boat racing, duck diving and sack races.

In the evenings, visitors also watched cultural performances from Laos, Cambodia, Viet Nam and Thailand.

By Panyasith Thammavongsa

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Category: News @ Vat Phou