The mysterious Pak Ou cave with thousands of Buddha statues always hides the mystery and holiness of Buddhists. And in the journey to the ancient capital Luong Pha Bang (Laos), let’s join Vietnam Travelers to learn and admire the holy beauty of Buddha statues in Pak Ou caves.
The mystery and sacredness of the Pak Ou cave is famous for its thousands of Buddha statues that are making a spiritual destination and attracting not only Buddhists but also people in the Land of Million Elephants. this beautiful. Thousands of Buddha statues in Pak Ou caves are made from many different materials of different sizes, which are always associated with interesting historical stories. That is, exploring the Pak Ou caves in Laos becomes even more attractive.
About the Pak Ou caves in Luang Prabang Laos
Where is the Pak Ou Caves?
The Pak Ou Caves are a limestone cave located at the confluence of the Nam Ou River and Mekong River. This cave is known to many people because it contains more than 4,000 Buddha sculptures with many different sizes and shapes. When the capital Luang Prabang was invaded by the enemy, in order to protect the precious and sacred Buddha statues, the Lao people rowed at night to bring these statues to the cave carefully from the 18th and 19th centuries.
Pak Ou Caves are associated with historical stories
The Pak Ou Caves in Luang Prabang are always associated with the history of the Million Elephant land thousands of years ago. Legend has it that, hundreds of years ago, due to a one-time battle with foreign invaders, the capital city of Luang Prabang was lost. And to avoid the fierce and brutal destruction of the foreign invaders, the monks converted the Buddha statues by sailing into the deep mountains to escape the invaders.
When it reached the part of the Mekong River, suddenly, like a storm, the boat of the monks turned upside down and drifted into the hill. Thinking that this is a good omen that Buddha opened the way, the monks put all these Buddha statues in the Pak Ou caves to hide. Over time of years, the number of Buddha statues in the cave increased. And according to the Lao people, the Pak Ou caves are also significant because the existence existed before Buddhism appeared.
As the years passed, the number of Buddha statues transferred by indigenous people to Pak Ou cave on day 1 increased with a variety of sizes and shapes. Since then, this cave has become a mysterious spiritual destination with a very unique landscape for visitors to explore and admire. When Laos was still under the monarchy, the king often went to Pak Ou caves every year to admire the Buddha statue during the Pimay traditional Tet (or water festival) and overnight at the Royal Temple of Pak Ou village.
And today, the journey to discover Pak Ou caves in Laos is more and more attractive to tourists here. Most of the people used boats from LLuang Prabang upstream of Mae Nam Kong to go to Pak Ou cave to pilgrimage in the ritual of using fragrant perfume to bathe the Buddha. And until now, the traditional beauty is still preserved by the indigenous people and this cave is still a sacred Buddha land that the people here respect with their sharp hearts. That is also the reason why Buddhist tourists everywhere come here to once admire the uniqueness and selfless beauty of the Buddha statue at Pak Ou cave when traveling to Laos.
What material is the Buddha statue in Pak Ou caves made of?
Talking about the Buddha statue in Pak Ou caves, they are all carved with wood main material and covered with black or red paint and bright yellow leaves. In addition, some statues here are also carved with poisonous horns, pottery … And according to statistics, there are more than 4,000 statues in there: Tham Pum Cave has about 1,500 statues and Tham Ting Cave has about 2,500 statues.
What is the best time to visit the Pak Ou Caves?
The best time to visit the Pak Ou Caves is at 1 or 2 pm. At this time, the number of people coming to the cave will be less, but during this time, visitors will not be jostled, pushed, but also leisurely watch the Buddha statue and enjoy the serene beauty in the cave. Especially when returning by boat to Luang Prabang, visitors will enjoy and capture the beautiful sunset on the romantic Mekong River, brilliant sunset.
How to travel to explore Pak Ou caves?
The Pak Ou Caves are located on the outskirts of the ancient capital of Luang Prabang, inside a limestone mountain on the confluence of the Nam Ou River and Mekong River. The cave is about 25km from the city center. Therefore, to reach this cave, tourists as well as locals have to travel by boat, not by taxi, bicycle, bus or on foot.
And to visit the Pak Ou caves, visitors will travel by boat along the Mekong River in a 1 hour boat ride starting from Luang Prabang to Pak Ou. Then the boat will stop at a small pier next to the Pak Ou limestone cave and at this time you will walk into the cave to admire the uniqueness of the thousands of Buddha statues here.
Usually the boat moves to the cave starting at 8:00 am every day with the anchor point of the ancient capital of Luang Prabang. The jetty where the boat leaves the dock to reach Pak Ou will be located opposite on the stairs to Wat Xieng Thong Temple.
Recognizing the pier is difficult because it is not an official pier, but only a normal mooring place of tourist boats traveling on the Mekong River. And if you want to find the boat to the Pak Ou cave, go down the small steps – which lead down the Mekong River and have to cross wooden boards to find the boat to the cave. And do not forget to ask the boatman if the boat can bring the Buddha statue to the cave to visit.
Costs and opening hours to visit Pak Ou Caves
Normally, Pak Ou caves will open daily from 8:00 – 17:00. And the ticket price to visit the cave is 20,000 kip, equivalent to $2 / person. This is only the entrance price to the cave to visit the statues and the rent for the boat to go to the cave must be paid separately.
Explore more closely the mysterious Pak Ou cave with thousands of Buddha statues
About Pak Ou caves, there are 2 natural caves that are Tham Phum cave (also known as Tham Prakachay) and Tham Ting cave. And Tham Ting cave is smaller and located below, you can see from the river, there is Tham Phum cave which is very large and much deeper above. These two caves share a cave door that is an entrance on the riverbank and is connected by a staircase with more than 200 steps.
1. Explore Tham Ting cave
Looking up from the Mekong River, visitors will see Tham Ting cave located in the middle of a vertical limestone mountain. This cave mouth is about 300m higher than the river surface. And if you want to explore Tham Ting cave, you will have to climb an extremely narrow staircase right below the small port at the foot of the mountain. Entering Tham Ting cave in Pak Ou caves, visitors will have the opportunity to admire more than 2,500 sacred Buddha statues on display around the cave with mysterious and pure space.
2. Explore Tham Phum cave
Talking about Tham Phum cave, this is the largest cave, but it owns a smaller number of Buddha statues. From Tham Ting cave to go to Tham Phum cave, visitors need to go through a road to the left with a staircase of more than 200 steps. At the end of the road, visitors will admire the most beautiful part of Tham Phum cave in the entrance with a splendidly decorated and sculpted door.
Since the cave is nestled inside the cave, it will be very dark. And in Tham Phum cave will contain 1,500 Buddha statues and altars where Lao people prayed for over 300 years. To see the beauty of the Buddha statues, visitors must use the flash or the flashlight of the phone to see the mystery inside the cave. If you do not have a phone, you can rent a flashlight outside the cave door for about 10,000 kip / unit.
3. Explore Ban Xang Hai village
And in the journey to visit Pak Ou caves, a rather interesting and very attractive destination is Ban Xang Hai village – famous for producing some special wine lines in Laos. Usually, the local wine or made from glutinous rice is very similar to the rice wine in Vietnam. And rice wine is often soaked in things such as geckos, snakes … or ginseng … The interesting thing about visiting this village now visitors can enjoy each wine before deciding to buy them or not buy.
Notes to visit Pak Ou caves
During the trip to discover Pak Ou Luang Prabang cave, visitors should note the following things:
- Tourists should prepare their own shoes for sightseeing. Do not wear high heels to avoid slipping or turning your feet when climbing steep stairs.
- For tourists who suffer from water sickness, they should prepare anti-sickness medicine when boarding the boat because the boat ride is quite long. And to avoid the dullness of the boat ride, guests should prepare some snacks or bottles of water. Bring a hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen to keep yourself healthy.
- Before going on a boat ride, negotiate with the boat driver about the most appropriate travel price. And schedule your pick up on time so you don’t miss your tour schedule.
- Note that the boat at first drove you to not get the wrong boat and lose extra costs.