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Why Pak Ou CaveS is special ?
The Pak Ou (also written Pakou) Caves are one of the most treasured religious symbols of the Luang Prabang Province. Several legends tell stories of this site where, over the years, thousands of statues of Buddha have been deposited.
Situated upstream from the Mekong, at about 20 miles from Luang Prabang. It is one of the most respected holy sites in Lao; Pak Ou Caves have a history dating back thousands of years. Packed with over 4,000 Buddha icons, the caves, a shrine to the river spirit and Lord Buddha, are set in a dramatic limestone cliff at the point where the Mekong joins the Nam Ou River.
What to explore at Pak Ou CaveS?
There are two caves to visit, the lower cave called Tham Ting and the upper cave Tham Theung, both boasting miniature Buddhist figures that are mostly made from wood.
Positioned about 50 feet above the river, Tham Ting filters in some light but a torch is required for the absolutely pitch black Tham Theung. The upper cave is home to the majority of the Buddha statues and you will need to find your way in darkness to the thousands of hidden icons. The statues are believed to have been left in the caves by local people for hundreds of years.
The caves are not far from Ban Xang Hai village, famous for its wine production and for the making of Lao wine earthen jars; it is a great side trip where you will get the chance to try locally produced whisky and wine.
How to get to Pak Ou CaveS?
the best way to go is by road to Ban Pak Ou (30km, around 150,000K return for a tuk-tuk) then take a motor-canoe across the river (20,000K return). Ban Pak Ou is 10km down a decent unpaved road that turns off Rte 13 near Km 405.
- A pleasant day on the river
- Tourist mingling with pilgrims
- One of the most revered spots
- Buddha Heaven
- Enjoy the boat ride and the view from the top
Pak Ou Caves, Luang Prabang, Laos
Tips for you
The Pak Ou Caves are carved by the waters of the Mekong over millenniums. This has been a site for worship even in pre-Buddhist times. The caves were thought to be where the river gods dwell. Today, it is a place where the vats retire images of the Buddha that are no longer needed. There are thousands of images as far as the eye can see in the dim reaches of the caves. Access to the caves is best by river boat from Luang Prabang, and the boat ride is just over an hour's ride up the river. Once there, you step from a small bamboo gangplank (designed for people less than half the weight of Americans) onto the shaky dock and then up many stairs to a first landing and from there up more stairs to several different areas for worship. The place has a mystical feeling about it and people speak in hushed tones as they make their offerings and bow to the Lord Buddha. You don't really need too much time here, but the experience is unlike any you'll find in western countries. I highly recommend a visit here.