Pak Ou Caves (Tam Tinh Caves) Travel Guide

Pak Ou is a well known Buddhist site and a place of pilgrimage, having thousands of statues and statuettes, in the traditional Luang Prabang style, mainly of the Buddha (unfortunately the site is exposed to looting). Stairs connect a second, deeper cave known as Tham Phum. Take an electric torch. Outside the cave is the impressive sight of a steep cliff falling sharply into the Nam Ou.

Pak Ou Caves refer to the set of cave system located at the confluence between the Mekong River and Nam Ou River. To the locals it is Tam Ting Caves, which means “Caves of a thousand Buddhas.”

Tam Ting Caves consist of two cave systems, the Lower Cave and the Upper Cave. A long flight of stairs lead steeply up the cliff towards the Lower Cave, and from there continues by the side to the Upper Cave, which is 60m above the river. There are approximately 4000 Buddha figurines within Tam Ting Caves, of which approximately 2500 are in the Lower Cave. Most of these are carved of wood or mould from tree resin, and then covered with red or black lacquer, and finally covered with gold leaf. There are also a few made from animal horn, bronze or ceramic

Getting There

Pakou travel guides, Pakou tours in Laos

The caves are located 25 km from Luang Prabang on the banks of the Mekong and the mouth of the Nam-Ou. The slow boat takes at least one hour but it is a superb trip in contrast to the quicker boats which are risky and more suited to the Indiana Jones type.