The history of Pak Ou Caves goes back thousands of years. Located 25 km. from Luang Prabang up the Mekong River, the two caves are packed with over 4,000 Buddha images. The caves are recessed into limestone cliffs where the Mekong River and Nam Ou River come together. Both caves serve as shrines to the river spirit and Lord Buddha. The statues are believed to have been left in the caves by local people over hundreds of years, and assume a variety of positions, including meditation poses and reclining Buddhas.
The lower cave above the Mekong River filters in some light, and is the most popular one with locals burning incense and offering prayers. You’ll need a torch to enter the upper cave, home to the majority of the statues, and necessary to find your way in darkness to the thousands of icons situated inside. The caves get quite busy in April, when Lao New Year traditionally has locals washing and attending to the images. On the way to the caves is the small village of Ban Xang Hai, famous for its whisky and wine production. A day-long tour to Pak Ou Caves arranged by 3 Nagas Luang Prabang includes a river cruise and lunch at a local restaurant.
By river, the trip to Pak Ou Caves takes around two hours from Luang Prabang and you can go with a tour agency, buy a ticket from the boat dock or let 3 Nagas Luang Prabang charter a boat for you. It’s also possible to reach the caves in an hour by tuk tuk, though you’ll still need to cross the river to reach the Pak Ou cave entrance. Let 3 Nagas Luang Prabang arrange a lunch cruise for you with food and drinks.