The Pak Ou Caves, 15 miles outside Luang Prabang, are one of the most revered sites in the whole country. These spectacular caves overlook the Mekong River. Their name means “mouth of the River Ou” and the view as you approach from the river is amazing. There are two caves here; the lower, Tham Ting is entered directly from the river. This cave has only natural light which permeates from above. It is worth taking a flashlight. The second cave, Tham Phum has electric lighting which adds a charm to the whole place.
The caves are famous for 4,000 wooden statues of the Buddha that are everywhere on shelves, throughout the grotto. People started placing the statues here, as long as 600 years ago and have continued. They depict the Buddha standing, sitting, meditating and lying down. Images of the Buddha are visible outside the cave, standing guard, as it where.
One can take a boat ride along the river to this important site. The trip itself is extremely worthwhile and the caves are fascinating. As soon as you leave the pier in Luang Prabang the scenery is wonderful. Every year at New Year in mid April local people flock in their thousands to wash the statues, thus gaining merit. This has developed over the years into almost a festival, as tourist also turn up in large numbers to bear witness.