Photo: Standing out from the crowd.

Pak Ou Caves

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Pak Ou Caves are one of Luang Prabang’s most famous sites, and these limestone caves overlooking the Mekong have been a place of worship for more than a thousand years.

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When pilgrims completed the difficult journey to the caves, which lie 25 kilometres upriver from Luang Prabang in a cliff 15 metres above the water, they left behind a Buddha idol. Over time they added up, and the caves are now filled with thousands of Buddha images in varying sizes and styles. There are two caves, upper (Tham Theung) and lower (Tham Ting), with the latter being the main attraction.

You will need one of these. Photo taken in or around Pak Ou Caves, Luang Prabang, Laos by Adam Poskitt.

You will need one of these. Photo: Adam Poskitt

The lower cave is well lit and has a few signs explaining the significance of statues and prayer altars inside. The upper cave is a 10-minute trek up some steep steps and you’ll need a torch to see anything, but the effort is worthwhile. The cave shelters thousands more Buddha images and, with far fewer tourists than the lower cave, feels like the serene place it originally was. Please do not touch any of the statues and absolutely do not even consider taking one as a souvenir.

The journey to Pak Ou is much easier now than it once was, with a small boat landing and stairs leading up to the caves. By river, the trip takes around two hours from Luang Prabang and you can go with a tour agency, buy a ticket from the boat dock or charter your own boat. It’s also possible to reach the caves in an hour by tuk tuk, though you’ll still need to board a boat to cross from the nearest village to the cave entrance.

Speedboats work too. Photo taken in or around Pak Ou Caves, Luang Prabang, Laos by Stuart McDonald.

Speedboats work too. Photo: Stuart McDonald

If you’re travelling by boat, there is usually a stop at one of the handicraft villages along the way. The most popular stop is Ban Xang Hai (aka the Whiskey Village) where you can sample fresh Lao lao, the potent local brew, and pick up a couple of bottles ... Travelfish members only (Around 400 more words) ... please log in to read the rest of this story.

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Pak Ou Caves
Around 25km upriver from Luang Prabang
Mo–Su: 8:00–17:00
Admission: 20,000 kip

Location map for Pak Ou Caves

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