Phra That Sikhotabong

The Sikhotabong pagoda is 6 to 8 kilometers south of Tha Kaek town. It is one of the most important religious shrines in the area, and even in the Lao nation. While it's not particularly spectacular, it probably is worth a visit.

The temple
The pagoda of Wat Phra That Sikhotabong

The spire (that) was originally built in the sixth to eight centuries, at around the same time as That Phanom across the river in Thailand. At this time, the Sikhotabong empire held sway over much of present-day Laos, northeastern Thailand and as far north as Yunnan province in China. The kingdom emerged in the first century and remained a force in the region until it was more or less merged into the Khmer empire in the eleventh century.

Buddha Altar
The altar and main Buddha image within the prayer hall of the temple

The tower was rebuilt many times over the centuries. A major renovation took place in the sixteenth century, and the present temple around the that was built in the nineteenth century. The temple consists of a long gallery enclosing the tower on two sides and a prayer hall which butts up against the spire on its north edge. A large formal garden fills most of the enclosed area, but it was very unkempt when I visited.

If you don't have your own transportation, you can get a tuk-tuk to take you to the temple and back for around 40,000 Kip (4.80 USD). They seem to collect an entrance fee from visitors who arrive on a tour bus, but if you're on your own there probably won't be anyone around to collect the admission. Near the entrance to the temple from the main road is a small village of traditional wooden houses. It seems to be some sort of demonstration project, and only one of the homes seemed to be occupied.