The Pak Ou Caves – Tham Ting – are among the most revered holy sites in Laos. A river trip on the Mekong to this famous attraction near Luang Prabang offers a pleasant boat cruise, combining a visit of the culturally important caves with a day out in superb riverside landscape and local villages.

After a short walk to the boat pier, the boat cruise takes us up the Mekong past scenes of rural riverside life, until reaching the Pak Ou Caves at the confluence of the Nam Ou River into the Mekong. Two caves in a limestone face are filled with hundreds of Buddha images, which were deposited here over centuries. The caves are noted for their miniature Buddha sculptures. Hundreds of very small and mostly damaged wooden Buddhist figures are laid out over the wall shelves. They take many different positions, including meditation, teaching, peace, rain, and reclining (nirvana).

Pak Ou remains a popular pilgrimage site for local people. During Lao New Year in April, the caves are crowded with devotees who gain merit by ceremonially washing the Buddha statues. We will see two Hang-Lin used for this ceremony. The upper and lower caves are explored, before stopping for a Lao style lunch at a nearby restaurant.