Pak Ou Caves – Mysterious Home of Thousands Buddha Images
Take a trip around 25km north out of Luang Prabang City, travelers will reach the limestone cliffs overlooking the mighty Mekong River. This place is called Pak Ou Caves, one of the most respected holy sites and most impressive caves in Laos.
The history of Pak Ou Caves
Constructed in 16th century, the Pak Ou Caves monastery is filled with thousands of Buddha images. According to the local legends, the caves were discovered in the 16th century by the Laos King Setthathirath. He is one of the greatest in the country, who built the two other famous sites Wat Xieng Thong Temple and Pha That Luang.
Pak Ou is a pilgrimage of Buddhism in Laos where have been the worshiping place of the locals for centuries. Being the location of over 4000 Buddha images, the caves are believed to house the spirit of Mekong River. The Buddha icons are shaped in many distinctive positions, consisting of meditating, teaching, resting, raining, and reclining (nirvana).
The lower and upper Pak Ou Caves
The famous Pak Ou Caves includes two caves are the upper (Tham Theung) and the lower (Tham Ting), in which the second one is the main attraction. Visiting the Pak Ou now has become one of the best things to do in Laos.
Tham Ting Cave is positioned about 15m above the Mekong River, where features a few lights allowing visitors to see the significance of the Buddha statues and the altars. The biggest statue of Tham Ting is the popular place for the locals to worship the Buddha and offer their prayers.
About 10 minutes trek from the lower, the Tham Theung Cave is a darker and few tourists come. It is the place where keeps the majority of Buddha images and travelers need to find the way to the thousands of statues in the darkness. You should bring along or hire flashlights before entering the caves.
Pak Ou Caves is also an ideal pilgrim site for the locals in the Lao New Year in April, when people come here to burn incense and wish for lucks. In the Luang Prabang travel, you can reach the famous Ban Xang Hai Village, another attraction not far from the caves. This is the place where renowned for the alcohol making process and Lao traditional wine in earthen jars. It will be an amazing experience when savoring some wine and listening to the legends of Pak Ou from the locals.
The journey to the well-known Pak Ou Caves is now much easier because Luang Prabang authorities have planned to develop the site as an important tourist attraction. Travelers can take a boat trip on the Mekong River or a tuk tuk drive to reach the caves. Along the way, you will be overwhelmed by the beauty of the riversides. Travelers should absolutely not ignore Pak Ou Caves in Laos travel.
More information about the Pak Ou Caves
Entrance fee: 20,000 Laotian Kip (2.5USD) per person
Opening hours: daily 08:00 – 17:00
Location: two hours upstream of Mekong River or 25km north of Luang Prabang City
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