When traveling to Laos, there are many places and sights to see. But one of the most unique and interesting destinations has to be the Pak ou Caves. Located near Luang Prabang you can hire a boat or songthaew to take you the 25 km down river.
Located directly on the Mekong River, the Pak Ou Caves are one of the most sacred sights in the country. They are actually still used as a place of worship. Every New Year people from Luang Prabang make a pilgrimage to visit the caves containing over 4000 Buddha images and statues.
The caves contain mostly the traditional tall standing Luang Prabang Buddha statues, but you can find Buddhas of all shapes and sizes. As you approach the caves from the opposite side of the river, an incredible view unfolds. High limestone cliffs jut above the banks with a black hole cut into its side. As you come closer, you will see the white stairs leading to the upper chamber and know that you are about to witness something magical.
You can take the stairs to two different Chambers. The higher chamber Tham Pheung houses more of the buddhas than the lower cave Tham Thing. They are both impressive, however more light is let into Tham Thing. If you plan on visiting the caves, bring along a headlamp. It can be quite dark and it helps to see the statues better.
While the caves make for a great day trip from Luang Prabang, there are many things that you can do in town. The city is beautiful and there is no better way to see it than by bicycle.
A World Heritage Sight, Luang Prabang is not to be missed. As you ride your bicycle from temple to temple, be sure not to miss Haw Kham, the former royal palace. The bright colours of the temples are a treat to the eyes against the lush green vegetation. The inside of the temples are as impressive as the outside containing Buddha images, tapestries, jewels and artifacts.
There is no shortage of food in Luang Prabang. From traditional Lao meals to coffee and pastry shops. You will never go hungry or tire of the choices. And after you have rejuvenated from a hearty lunch, you are ready to explore more of the sights, like a working Monastery. If you are lucky, you may catch a glimpse of a group of monks practicing their drums.
While in Luang Prabang, you must walk the steep hill to Phou Si. It has a spectacular panoramic view of the area and the sunset is certainly one of the most beautiful you will ever see.
Luang Prabang has a famous night market. Pick up all of your trinkets and souvenirs here. Be ready to barter hard though because it is definitely over priced. Restaurants line the streets and you will have no problem finding any food that you are craving to fit your budget.
Laos is a wonderful country to visit and you should make it top on your list before it is discovered by the rest of the world and overrun with tourists.