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.
I really enjoyed being on the boat, watching the local life and the beautiful scenery slide by as we made our way upriver.
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.
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.
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.
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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.
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.
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).
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.
Have you been here? Would you like to go? Leave me a comment below and let me know!
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