Pak Ou Buddha Caves at Luang Prabang



Buddha Caves at Luang Prabang
Pak Ou Buddha Caves in Luang Prabang is one of the main highlights of the Mekong River cruise when you are visiting this UNESCO World Heritage Site and it is one of the very interesting trips to see the thousands of Buddha statues inside the caves here.

It seems like the entire Luang Prabang guests either have been or are going when in town. This interesting cave trip is sold at all travel agents around town and happily, I was one of the travelers that took the trip here. The flyer says "Take a boat ride, Visit a traditional Lao whiskey village and see the Thousand Buddha Statues at Pak Ou Caves".

Buddha Caves Luang Prabang
Boarding jetty at Luang Prabang


Getting to Pak Ou Caves is via long boat from the main town of Luang Prabang. The journey is 25 kilometers and this will be one you remember as you would be cruising along the great Mekong River for almost an hour making one or two stops at a local Lao Whiskey Village or Sa Paper Village.

When you book your tour, the agent will meet everyone in town and then walk you from town through some lanes passing peoples homes and eventually arriving at a sandbank where few boats are waiting.


When you arrive at the tour meet up point in the morning, there will be many various groups heading in the same direction so please stick to your group as it can get a little confusing if you have not had you coffee fix.

Once you arrive at the riverbank, you board the long boat and your journey starts. Please do not mind the river water as the milk-tea colour is pretty normal. The long boats are also very basic so no 5-Star treatment. You get to sit on a wooden stool/chair for your entire journey.

Journey via long boat

If you are a backpacker, this would be a great pace to meet fellow travelers as the journey will take about an hour. Looking out the boat, you see nothing much but beautiful Lao landscape and an occasional fisherman. passing by.

Villagers go by their daily washing of clothes and Lao children playing by the river are common sights. You will also see a number of other tourist boats, some faster than your boat zooming past by.

Hotel boat on the Mekong River

Along the way to Pak Ou, I saw a unique Hotel Boat where guest live on board. I asked around and was told that there are a number of hotel boats that travel along the Mekong River stopping at various towns. It looked pretty interesting as I may consider trying this out the next time I visit Luang Prabang.

Pak Ou Caves Entrance staircase

Reaching Pak Ou Caves, you will see a number of boats parked there and this huge hole in a cliff . The boatman will stop you at the jetty and you will find yourself climbing up a flight of stairs reaching a small counter where tickets are purchased to enter the caves.

I assumed the tickets were all taken care by the travel agent, but nope, you have to pay an additional 8,000 KIP (US$0.80) to get into the caves.

Pak Ou Caves - Buddha Statues

Once you reach the top of the caves, you will be greeted by hundreds of Buddha statues placed all over the area. On looking closer, the hundreds start to seem like thousands of them in various sizes and colours.

This lower part of the cave is called Tham Ting or lower cave where there is an approximate 2500 or more Buddha statues there. An amazing sight to see and excellent for photography.

Making your way around the Pak Ou Caves at the lower level, you see more an more Buddha statues just all over the place and there is a walk way to the upper part of the caves called Tham Theung.

Buddha statues by the thousands

Apparently the local Lao people have been coming to the Pak Ou Caves for thousands of years bringing statues of the Theravada Buddha. Until today, the locals still make their way there and continue to bring Buddha Statues.

During the Laos New Year, pilgrimages of Lao people travel by boat to the caves and perform the washing ceremony of all the old Buddha images. Previously this was performed by the King and members of the Royal Family but now is performed by the Governor of Luang Prabang and local families.

Lao boy selling little birds in cages

When walking to the upper caves, you will be most likely greeted by local Lao children selling you little birds in tiny bamboo cages.

They will sell them for US$1.00 a cage. On asking the little child what would I do with the bird in cage, he confidently replied that I would be paying for the birds freedom by letting it go from the cage.

Lady selling a local thin pancake

Upon reaching the upper cave, I made a quick visit and saw more Buddha statues there. Going deeper into the upper caves would require a flashlight which I did not have.

So, if you plan to explore the upper cave, do bring along a flashlight. By the way, there are more stairs to climb when going to the upper caves so best be prepared with proper hiking or trekking shoes.

You might also want to have some bug repellent on stand by and pack some food as there are no shops or restaurants at the caves.

For the adventurous, there are also companies that offer Kayaking trips to Pak Ou Caves so you can inquire with the local tour companies for this. And for those who do not like long boat rides, you can also visit the caves via Tuk tuk going through the villages.

As for me, this trip took me to visit the local Whisky Village in Luang Prabang along the way, which is a very interesting place.

And if you like local food, read about my Lao Food in Luang Prabang article, which highlights the local cuisine here.

There is also an article I did which generalized the 10 things to do in Luang Prabang, Laos for anyone planning to visit here. 

Video of Pak Ou Buddha Caves

Pak Ou Caves Information


  • Entrance Fees at Pak Ou - 8,000 KIP

Things to bring - Trekking Shoes, Flashlight, Drinking Water, light snacks and bug repellent.

This tour package can be obtained by various counters or shops along the main street of Luang Prabang. Some Tuk Tuk drivers also act as agents in LP but it is best to buy them from the reputed agents in town.

This is one of the highlights of this UNESCO Site and it is only a half day trip so if you have the chance, you should try to visit the Pak Ou Buddha Caves in Luang Prabang, Laos.

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