Dating back thousands of years, Pak Ou Caves, one of the most important religious sites in Laos which is famous for two caves (Tham Ting and Tham Theung) housing numerous of Buddha images and icons. Indeed it is the fantastic place to discover more about Buddhism in Laos.
Pak Ou Caves – The Place of worship for centuries
Located about 25km to the north of Luang Prabang in Laos, Pak Ou is a group of two caves named Tham Ting (lower cave) and Tham Theung (upper cave), and these caves contain hundreds of sacred centuries-old Buddha images. The caves themselves are very close to the mouth of the Ou River and overlooking the Mekong River, so it called Pak Ou.
Pak Ou caves are set in the steep and vertical cliffs in limestone mountains over the Mekong river and filled with hundreds of Buddha statues. In the belief of Laotians, they believed the caves are inhabited by the spirits of the river.
Pak Ou was discovered in the 16th century by King Setthathirath, who was also a person built grandiose monuments of the Wat Xieng Thong and the Pha That Luang. There are two caves displaying many interesting Buddha statues:
Tham Ting, the lower cave is easily visited. It is a small cave, well – lit and shallow with incredible wooden Buddha images on each shelf or crevice in the rock.
The upper cave, Tham Theung is dark as night; therefore you need to bring along a torch to see the way clearly and to admire various Buddha statues inside.
During the period of several centuries, thousands of Buddha images have been filled in both caves. All of them have different sizes, shapes, and positions such as meditation, teaching, peace, rain, and reclining (nirvana). People believed that they dated from 18th and 19th centuries. Also, for a long time of existence, the caves have been a popular site for pilgrimages during the Laos New Year festival around mid-April. Besides, when you visit the caves, you will have a great opportunity to try whisky and wine made by locals in Ban Xang Hai village (near the caves in a short distance).
How to get to Pak Ou Caves
• Boat is the best way to get to the caves within 2 hours upstream from Luang Prabang. On the way, you will see the stunning sceneries on the Mekong riverside as well as majestic rocky mountains. And you will spend about 1 hour to comeback downstream.
• The fare is about 75.000 Kip ($10).
• Besides, you can hire a tuk – tuk, taxi or minivan to Ban Pak Ou village, which is opposite to the caves. However, your ride can have difficulty due to bumpy road and the expense is very expensive of 200.000 Kip ($26). After that, you need to have a boat trip to cross the river from Ban Pak Ou village with the fare of 10.000 Kip ($1.30)/ person.
Opening Hours and Entrance Fee
• Opening hours: daily from 8.00 am – 5.00 pm
• Entrance fee: 20.000 Kip ($2.5)/person