Pak Ou Caves are a big must to see in Luang Prabang that almost every Laos Tour Packages include this attraction in the well-arranged itinerary. The revered landmarks enshrine thousands of the Buddha effigies on the caves high above a picturesque river. Discover what is best of the renowned and sacred caves.
Pak Ou Caves Enshrine over 4,000 Buddha Statues and More to Discover
First of all, know that Pak Ou is translated to “mouth of the Ou River.” It usually takes 2-hour boating upstream along the scenic Mekong River or 25km from Luang Prabang with 1-hour tuk-tuk. You might first be impressed by the natural magnificence from a distance, which is the interesting limestone formations – two stand apart, and the more inner surprises.
The boats should dock at the foot of the steep rocks, and then you start ascending into the lower and upper caves to unveil the interior. Once inside, expect to contemplate thousands of the revered statues of the Buddha in various sizes, quality, and materials, but all have the imperfect points such as the missing hands or chipped faces. And, most are made from wood. The religious sites are considered as the thousand-of-year, natural shrines dedicated to Lord Buddha and river spirit.
Set at the conjunction of Mekong River and Nam Ou River, the two caves have imposing limestone cliffs which reflect the fact that there are surprising secrets inside to discover. It is around 50 feet above the river. While the lower cave is Tham Ting, the upper one is Tham Theung, and both enshrines the Buddha statues in various positions such as meditating and reclining. Tham Ting has some light but Tham Theung is completely dark in which a torch is required.
Find your way in the darkness of Thang Theung can fulfill the adventurous spirit of some thrill-seekers. You first get into the entrance of Tham Ting whose interior is magically visible or well-lit. Then, go upstairs to reach the upper cave with the torch. Amongst the two, Tham Ting Cave is where to burn incense and do prayers, as well as the peaceful setting to overlook the mighty Mekong River and the main attraction.
Know that before the outsiders’ discovery, the religious sites were only mentioned on the Laotian New Year (often falls in April) when the pilgrims come to bathe in the caves, hoping for blessings in the coming year. Now, the access to the religious sites is much easier than it once was, with the dock at the bottom of the limestone cliffs and the stairs toward the upper cave. As a result, Pak Ou Caves have become a popular tourist destination in Luang Prabang that the boat operators hired to take travelers there and then the “Whiskey Village” of Ban Xang Hai to try the locally produced whiskey and wine. Often, the boat trip to Pak Ou Caves is linked to the stop at Ban Xang Hai Village for a nice side exploration. There, you savor the fresh local brew and buy some bottles if liked.
- For the access to Pak Ou Caves in Luang Prabang, join a small group costs about 65,000 kips/person (including a stop at Ban Xang Hai Village). Or, charter a tuk-tuk for 200,000 kips (up to 5 passengers). Or, hire a boat with driver for 300,000 kips. Remember to bargain and note that these prices are transport-only.
- Do not exclude the stop at the Whiskey Village as this is the interesting attraction for you to view the river life, interact with the residents, and taste the good brew.
- Bring a hat, sun cream, mosquito repellent, and torch.
Start a complete discovery of Pak Ou Caves in Luang Prabang soon to witness the thousand-of-year mystic and natural Buddhist shrines!
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