Highlights of Pak Ou Caves
Pak Ou means mouth of the Ou River in Laos. According to a local story, the caves was found in the 16th century by King Setthathirath building Wat Xieng Thong and Pha That Luang. Pak Ou Caves is estimated to be thousands of years old and contain more than 4,000 Buddha statues in different styles. They are mainly made from wood and believed to have been left here by the locals for hundreds of years. Located in an impressive limestone cliff at the transection of Mekong and Nam Ou River, the cavern is a shrine to the river spirit and Lord Buddha. The area is divided into two caves : the lower Tham Ting and the upper Tham Theung.
Pak Ou Caves
Tham Ting is located approximately 50 feet above the river and lit by some sunlight. Its entrance can be easily seen from the river. The majority of the Buddha figures including the largest one are placed in this cave. Although both caves are places of worship, the lower is said to be a more popular site for offering prayers and burning incense.
Tham Thing at Pak Ou Caves
Buddha statues at Tham Thing
On the contrary to the lower cave, the upper Tham Theung should be discovered with a torch or flashlight from the beginning. It is in height of 60m on the river and accessed by tiny and steep stairs. At the end of the stairway is a teak wood door of the cavern. Patience and carefulness are necessary for visitors to find ways in darkness and hidden statues.
A teak wood door of Tham Theung
The caves are crowded with pilgrims from various countries during April. At that time, local people participate in washing the images to welcome a new year following the Lao calender. The neighbouring village of Ban Xang Hai is famous for making Lao wine and earthen jars. Visiting this small village, traverlers will have wonderful experiences such as trying several tastes of locally produced whisky, staying in attractive wooden houses and chatting with friendly villagers.
Whisky at Ban Xang Hai
How to Get to Pak Ou Caves
The most interesting way to go to Pak Ou caves is by boat. In the 2-hour trip from the upstream in Luang Prabang, tourists will watch picturesque sceneries along the way of Mekong River and the limestone mountains. Boats usually leave at 8:30 am and the fare is 75,000 Kips per person. Hiring a tuk tuk, taxi or minivan to villages which are close to the caves is ok. From the villages, you have to pay 10,000 Kips/person to cross the river by boat.
Opening Hours : Daily from 8am to 5pm
Ticket Price : 20,000 Kips/person