The stunning limestone mountains that tower over Vang Vieng are riddled with caves of all kinds. Some are large with spectacular stalagmite and stalactite formations, while others are so small you can barely squeeze inside. While the Water Cave may be the main attraction, there are plenty of other caverns worth exploring.
Lusi Cave is three kilometres from Vang Vieng and 1.8 kilometres past Pha Poak. The cave is primarily famous for a lagoon inside in which you can swim in the pitch dark. Guides at the entrance to the cave are able to show you the way to the lagoon which is about a 25-minute walk from the entrance of the cave. We witnessed many people arriving to the cave entrance by bike and choosing to turn around soon thereafter upon realising that the swim in the lagoon was in the dark. If you choose to hire a guide, add 10,000 kip to the entrance fee of 10,000 kip. To get to Lusi Cave, follow the directions to Pha Poak. Lusi Cave is usually closed in wet season.
Heading north from Vang Vieng on the main highway about 11 kilometres from town is a well-signed turn off to Pha Thao Cave. A further two kilometres down dirt roads and across a bridge is the ticket booth (admission is 10,000 kip) for the cave where you pick up your torch. Once inside the cave, the going is easy due to the flat, dirt floor and small ladders to help climb up ledges. Inside are some interesting features, large caverns and about 20 minutes worth of passageways. This is well worth a stop on the way to the Elephant and Water caves.
Much closer to town, the couple of hundred steps up Pha Lao mountain to Tham Chang (also Tham Jang) is worth it for the view of the surrounding mountains and countryside alone. But inside there are stalactites, stalagmites and a lot of history. As you enter the main cavern, imagine what it was like to live there.
Tham Chang is considered one of the most important caves in town because it was a refuge during the Chinese Haw invasion in the 19th century, and home to an entire village seeking protection during the civil war. According to the Tourism Laos brochure, this is how it got its original name Tham Jang, meaning “hang around,” later changed to Tham Chang which means “unable to move” because the water in the cave’s basin is so cold it makes your legs stiff. You can test it for yourself with a swim in the lagoon fed from the mountain.
Tham Chang is easy walking distance from town, just over a kilometre from the town centre. Head south on the river road, continue on the dirt path past Jamee Guesthouse to Vang Vieng Resort and cross the toll bridge over the Nam Song.
By Adam Poskitt
Last updated on 22nd August, 2015.