The Pak Ou (also written Pakou) Caves are one of the most treasured religious symbols of the Luang Prabang Province.
Situated upstream from the Mekong, at about 20 miles from Luang Prabang, the caves are accessible by touktouk (taxi) or by boat, the boat is often the transport chosen, being as its much more comfortable (the road is pretty rugged for 6 or 7 miles) and more pleasant.
What to see
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.
Both caves are shrines to Buddha, offering places of worship with the largest image in Tham Ting being a popular place to burn incense and offer prayers. The smaller cave is the more peaceful, with glimpses of the Mekong providing a breathtaking backdrop. The caves are a very popular pilgrim site for locals and get very busy during April when the Lao New Year is in full swing with locals washing and attending to the images.
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.