Visiting the Pak Ou Caves Near Luang Prabang Laos

Pak Ou Caves, Luang Prabang Laos
Pak Ou Caves, Luang Prabang Laos

One of the more interesting things to do in and around Luang Prabang is a trip up the Mekong River to see the Pak Ou Caves which are filled with thousands of Buddha statues. There are several options on how to get there, but we hired a private boat for four of us and it was simply perfect; a relaxing scenic boat ride combined with a fascinating cultural visit. Details and tips on planning a trip to the caves are at the bottom of this post.

Boat we hired to take us to the Pak Ou Caves
Boat we hired to take us to the Pak Ou Caves
Inside the boat

I really enjoyed being on the boat, watching the local life and the beautiful scenery slide by as we made our way upriver.

Views from the boat along the Mekong near Luang Prabang Laos.
Views from the boat along the Mekong near Luang Prabang Laos.
Here’s a little video of going upriver on the boat.
Boat we hired to take us to the Pak Ou Caves
This bird in the back of the boat we hired sang all the way to the Pak Ou Caves
Views from the boat along the Mekong near Luang Prabang Laos.
Life along the Mekong near Luang Prabang Laos.
Views from the boat along the Mekong near Luang Prabang Laos.
Village life along the Mekong near Luang Prabang Laos.
Across from the cave entrance.
Across from the cave entrance.

The Pak Ou Caves are filled with Buddha statues ranging in size from the tiniest ones, no bigger than my thumb to ones which are much larger than life-sized. People have been coming here for hundreds of years and between the two aves there are over 5000 statues.

Pak Ou Caves, Luang Prabang Laos
Up the steps to the top cave.

When we arrived, we bought our ticket which covered entrances to both caves, one near the bottom and one a couple of hundred steps up from the river. We chose to go up first and this cave seemed to be much quieter and to receive far fewer visitors.

Pak Ou Caves, Luang Prabang Laos
The entrance to the top cave, at the Pak Ou Caves
Pak Ou Caves, Luang Prabang Laos
Pak Ou Caves, Luang Prabang Laos
Pak Ou Caves, Lunag Prabang Laos
Going into the upper cave.
Pak Ou Caves, Luang Prabang Laos
Inside the upper cave, Pak Ou, Laos

This is a holy site for many people, so please be respectful. Don’t touch the statues. Don’t pick them up. And for God’s sake, don’t take one.

Pak Ou Caves, Luang Prabang Laos
Upper cave, looking out.
Pak Ou Caves, Luang Prabang Laos
Pak Ou Caves, Luang Prabang Laos
Pak Ou Caves, Luang Prabang Laos
Pak Ou Caves, Luang Prabang Laos
Looking down on the boat dock, from the lower cave.
Pak Ou Caves, Luang Prabang Laos
Pak Ou Caves, Luang Prabang Laos
Inside the lower of the Pak Ou Caves, Luang Prabang Laos
Pak Ou Caves, Luang Prabang Laos
Pak Ou Caves, Luang Prabang Laos
Pak Ou Caves, Luang Prabang Laos
Pak Ou Caves, Luang Prabang Laos
Pak Ou Caves, Luang Prabang Laos
So. Many. Buddhas.
Where the boats dock for the caves.
Nap time on a boat near the caves.
Views from the boat along the Mekong near Luang Prabang Laos.
Views from the boat along the Mekong near Luang Prabang Laos.

Practical Matters:

Money Matters:

  • The current price seems to be about 300,000 kip for the day for a private boat hire. We split this between four people so it was very affordable to have our own long boat. It’s also convenient because the boat sticks to your schedule, stopping only when and where you want.
  • There are group tours available but be aware you might have to make additional stops along the way. The “Whiskey Village” is a popular one, and the cost might be the same or more per person as renting a private boat if you have 4 people or more.
  • Entrance fee (20,000 kip) at caves gets you into both top cave and bottom. There are lots of stairs and the top cave is not very accessible unless you are comfortable climbing up.

Time Matters:

  • The trip took about four hours in total. Two hours going up and one hour return. The caves are located up the Mekong river about 25 kilometers from Luang Prabang.
  • You can also hire a tuk-tuk to take you by road (about 1 hour from LP) to an area across the river from the caves. You will still need to pay to take a ferry across the river.

Clothing Matters:

  • Wear comfortable clothes and sun protection. It can be hot and sunny when you are on land but also cooler and breezy while the boat is going fast on the river.
  • Wear sensible shoes for getting on/off the boat and climbing the stairs (which are uneven).

Other Matters:

  • Bring a flashlight (torch) or use the light from your phone. In the top cave there were ladies there renting flashlights. The top cave is very dark inside.
  • There was no toilet on the boat, so go before you get on. At the caves, there is one for a small fee in an area off the stairs going up to the top cave.

For more of this trip to Laos, go here.

Have you been here? Would you like to go? Leave me a comment below and let me know!

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2 Comments Add yours

  1. Even I have been to many countries of South East Asia, I have not been to Laos yet. This place looks quite interesting for visit. Thanks for detailed information and tips!

  2. Alison says:

    Gorgeous photos, looks like an amazing holiday destination.

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