Champhone District is where the main tourist attractions in Savannakhet are located. There is a special building in Champhone called Hotay Pidok or Buddhist Teaching Library. This was once a seminary for hundreds of monks and people interested in learning about Buddhism. Buddhist teachings, in Sanskrit, written on palm leaves are preserved here in silk.
Hotay Pidok is a beautiful 17th-century Buddhist library and document repository. The collection of old wooden temples are classically peaceful and simply beautiful.
It was, so the story goes, built over water to keep the termites from the ancient books, written in a variety of scripts on palm leaves and stored in silk bags inside the multi-tiered pagoda. The custodian, who was obviously proud of the collection, said that while around 2,900 of the 4000 or so scripts were kept in the library for the public to see, the abbot kept others in a private library elsewhere on the temple grounds.
The temple is a very sacred space so tourists are expected to leave their shoes at the gate, and if possible wear Lao dress which means a sinh (traditional skirt) for women. To enter the library one buys a ticket which comes with an offering platter and a pha bieng (scarf worn across the body by both men and women for ceremonies). It is customary to bow three times in respect of the books and their significance, even if you haven’t read one in years.