Pak ou caves

Weather :

Tags : Cave

Timings : 8 AM to 5 PM

Time Required : 5 to 6 hours

Entry Fee : 20,000 LAK or 2.7 USD per person

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Pak ou caves, Luang Prabang Overview

Pak Ou is a cave monastery located in the limestone cliffs overlooking the Mekong river close to the city of Luang Prabang in Laos. It is known for the centuries-old stalagmite cave formations and thousands of Buddha statues. It is a pilgrimage site for the locals who hike from surrounding villages to worship. Pak Ou Caves are worth visiting as a day trip from Luang Prabang for tourists exploring the city.

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Best time to visit

The best time to arrive at Pak Ou cave is in the afternoon or early in the morning when the weather is pleasant. If you want to combine visiting other attractions nearby, then plan accordingly to be here and also get back in time.

Pak Ou Caves History & Significance

Pak Ou Caves were first discovered in the 16th century by King Setthathirath, one of the most powerful Kings of Laos. But evidence suggests that the caves might have been around, known to the world from at least the 7th century. Pak Ou Caves have been an important place of worship for the locals for thousands of years as they believe that the spirits of the river inhabit this place. Pilgrims leave behind statues of Buddha for years. As a result, the caves are home to more than 5000 statues of Buddha of various shapes and sizes.

Upper & Lower Pak Ou Caves

There are two caves called the lower and the upper Pak Ou caves, both containing statues and also wooden images. The stairway to the smaller caves is decorated with Lion statues. The lower cave or Tham Thing is more accessible to climb and offers splendid views of the river and the villages below. There are candles and incense sticks with many offerings by people placed at the altar here.

Climbing further up leads to the upper cave or Tham Phum, which is devoid of any sunlight. It contains many statues from recent times belonging to the 19th century.


  • Carry a torch with you as one of the caves is entirely dark.
  • The path to the caves is steep and can get slippery. So make sure to wear good shoes.
  • Avoid having to make your journey in the late evening as most boats stop operating after sunset. 
  • Ban Pak Ou village is also worth visiting, which offers excellent views of the landscape across the Nam Ou River.
  • The road leading to the foot of the cave has many cafes and restaurants, so finding food or drinks is easy.
  • Since it’s a temple, it is expected to dress appropriately. Women are supposed to cover their shoulders and knees. Remove hat, sunglasses and footwear once inside the cave.

How To Reach Pak ou caves

Pak Ou Caves are located 25km from the downtown of Luang Prabang. There are two ways to reach the caves. One is by hiring a boat trip, which can be booked via tour operators, your hotel/guesthouse, or you could directly walk to the central pier and book a boat on the spot. It takes 2 hours to reach and another two to come back. The price of a boat trip is 75000 LAK or about 10 USD per person. If you are traveling in a group, you can book an entire boat for about 300,000 to 350000 LAK, which depends on how well you negotiate the prices.

The boat drivers stop at Whiskey Village on the way, where you'll see some local whiskies produced using snakes, tortoises and scorpions. It is an exciting stopover to get to know and try local liquor. It is a scenic ride, which passes through some of the most beautiful views of the landscapes in Luang Prabang.

By tuk-tuk: The second way is to take a tuk-tuk to the nearest village, Ban Pak Ou, and then take a short boat trip to the foot of the caves. The one-way tuk-tuk ride costs about 200000 LAK per person and the boat trip about 10,000 LAK person one way.

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