Pak Ou Caves are known as the Buddha Caves. They are near the center of Luang Prabang, where the Mekong and Nam Ou River meet.. “Pak Ou” is meaning the caves at the estuary of Ou River.
Tourists can choose boat or touktouk to go. When you go by boat, instead of other vehicles, you can see rural riverside life and impressive sceneries. It takes 2 hours to go to these unique caves by boat.
The cave system including 2 caves: Tam Ting and Tam Pum. Tam Ting caves, which means the cave of a thousand Buddha statues. According to the name, there are thousands of Buddha statues in all sizes from small to as high as the height of a person. The latest research shows that there are about 4,000 statues in two caves, 1,500 in the upper cave called Tam Pum cave and 2,500 statues in the other one as known as the main cave is called Tam Ting cave. Most of these statues are made from wood, painted with red or black lacquer, and finally covered with gold leaves. There are also some made from the horns of animal, bronze and ceramic.
It is said that the ancient kings often visited the Pak Ou Caves on Pimay (Water Festival in Laos) and spent the night in this area to control the Buddha's ceremony in this cave. During this time, a lot of people sailed boats from Luang Prabang to the Pak Ou Caves, along with the king to perform the ritual bathing Buddha.
Today, for the convenience of tourists, it is built a stone stair system over 200 steps connecting Tam Ting cave to Tam Pum cave. Like Tam Ting Cave, Tam Pum Cave also has many big and small Buddha statues of all kinds that people have worshiped for hundreds of years. However, due to the structure of the cave, Tam Pum cave is much longer than Tam Ting cave. Tam Pum cave become much colder than the other because of this structure. Due to the light and a sacred Buddhist space, Tam Pum cave makes anyone feel mysterious when entering the cave.
Not only creating a Buddhist area, Pak Ou Caves also creates an image of women with the looms. In the past, when Pak Ou Caves was not widely known, the locals weaving fabrics were mainly for their family and village. Since Pak Ou Caves has become one of the attractive tourist spots in Luang Prabang, this traditional product has become a souvenir for tourists.
In the monarchy, every year the King visited in Pimay Festival and slept overnight in the royal pagoda here. Civilian in great number have gone by boat from Luang Prabang, along Mae Nam Kong to Pak Ou Caves for pilgrimage. Today, although that tradition is no longer preserved, the people still give Pak Ou cave a special love, becoming one of the most famous religious places in this country.