Trip to Pak Ou Caves, Luang Prabang, Laos

The Pak Ou Caves are situated a 90 minute longboat trip upriver from Luang Prabang.  Boats leave from the Mekong riverside at around 8.30 am, otherwise you can combine the Pak Ou caves and the beautiful Tat Kuang Is Waterfalls in one full day trip.  The 90 minute boat trip up river, watching life on the river and the clouds swirling around the stunning tree covered mountains is as much part of the trip as the caves themselves.  On the way our boat even had to stop to fill up at a floating petrol station.  In Laos, as it is very mountainous,  rivers have traditionally been the life blood of the country and the main way of getting around.

The caves are situated in towering a limestone cliff at the sacred confluence of the Nam Ou and the Mekong Rivers.  Traditionally the King would visit every New Year on pilgrimage and leave a Buddha image, this became the tradition, and every well-heeled pilgrim would leave a Buddha earn merit.

The boats docked at the bottom of the cliff and we climbed a steep white staircase to the lower cave, the cave was quite small but it has a stunning array of Buddhas of all colours and sizes, many are Standing Teaching Buddhas while others are seated Buddhas in a variety of poses.  Each pose has a different meaning, each highlights a different aspect of the Buddha’s teaching.

There is also an upper cave, this is reached by a 15 minute walk up another steep staircase, To be honest the upper cave is a bit of a disappointment, there was no electricity when we visited and as it is  a lot deeper than the lower cave it was dark.  We used the torches from our phones to look around, which made it quite atmospheric, but compared to the lower cave there was very little to see.

When we were there, there were a few children and their mother selling trinkets, which we didn’t want but we gave then some of our sweets and they were very happy and chatty.  I always like to talk to the locals, rather than just turn up take a photo and leave, it makes the whole experience more authentic and memorable.

We can offer you the following trips;