The Pak Ou Caves are one of the top holy sites in Laos; they have a history dating back thousands of years. There are more than 4,000 wooden Buddha images within the caves which are found on limestone cliffs overlooking the place where the Mekong River joins with the Nam Ou River near Ban Xang Hai village.
Pak Ou incidentally means ‘’mouth of the Ou River’’ and those on organised Laos travel packages will be delighted to see the caves included in the itinerary.
How to get there
The caves are 25 km from Luang Prabang, the ancient capital and UNESCO Heritage city by bus or two hours upstream by boat. Luang Prabang has flights to many neighbouring countries so it is ideal for Indochina tour packages. There is also a good road connection with the Laos Capital Vientiane. The bus journey from Hanoi however will take 30 hours so better to fly.
Best time to visit
The low season corresponds to the monsoon rains; May to October when internal travel is sometimes difficult though that should not necessarily be the case between Vientiane and Luang Prabang and hence the Caves.
Our Laos travel guide selects the highlights of the Country and the Caves are included:
• There are just two caves, Tham Ting the lower one and Tham Theung.Tham Ting is 16 metres above the River and although there is a certain amount of daylight there is none in Tham Theung so a torch is essential. The latter is accessed by climbing some stairs. In addition to a torch, a hat, sun screen and insect repellent are all advisable.
• The collection of statues are thought to have been put there by locals over a period of a few hundred years. There is a range of poses from meditation to ‘’nirvana’’, the reclining pose. The most popular worship place is the largest of the images in the lower cave. Pilgrims visit the caves especially around the Laos New Year in April when the images and washed and cleaned by locals.
• An added attraction to visiting the Caves is to see more about the daily life of locals largely revolving around the River. They are very friendly and provide a genuine experience for those onholiday in Laos.
Laos tour packages that include the caves will arrange accommodation in Luang Prabang for those visiting the caves. There is plentiful accommodation at all price levels.