Second day of Luang Prabang visit revolved around the element of water.
Prior to our trip, we already arranged a tour with Klook for the visit to Pak Ou Caves, then to a wine-making village and finally, to the popular Kuang Si Falls.
Call time was 8am and we were fetched by a van. We were brought to Khem Khong Street which is behind the Royal Palace Museum. A few steps down to the banks of the Mekong, a long boat was waiting for us. It’s a traditional long boat that could probably sit around 30 people. When we got to the boat, we realized that we were the only passengers on that day. Our guide had instructed the boatman to head for the Pak Ou Caves.
Mekong River, the lifeline of Indochina.
It is the most important river in Southeast Asia crossing countries like Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. Mekong is a major trade route between China and these countries. Laos lies wholly in the lower basin of Mekong making it an integral part of the Lao way of life.
Our boat was cruising the Mekong River for about 25kms upstream from Luang Prabang. It took us about two hours to reach the caves which lie near the confluence of Mekong and Nam Ou River. Pak Ou has two caves, Tham Ting which is the lower cave and Tham Theung, the upper Cave. The Lower Cave contain thousands of Buddhas and is accessible by a steep flight of stairs leading down to the floating dock or boat landing. There is an entrance fee of LAK 20,000.
Tham Ting as viewed from Mekong
At Tham Ting alone, it’s amazing how thousands of Buddha figures were placed in all nooks and shelves. Buddhas in different forms, material and sizes covering all the surfaces of the cave. Some of these statues are more than a hundred years old. Locals say that the people of Lao and the pilgrims place the damaged or old Buddha statues in this cave instead of throwing them away.
A cave full of Buddha images
A pilgrim site, a place of worship
Silhouettes of Faith
Tham Theung is a few hundred steps away from Tham Ting. A huge wooden door was placed at the entrance to the upper cave. Unlike Tham Ting, the cave is devoid of light. You need to bring flashlight or torchlight to see what’s inside. This cave is much larger than the lower cave. It is also filled with a lot of Buddha statues.
Long boats waiting for tourists
From the caves, we head back to Luang Prabang still on a long boat. Midway from the trip, we docked at a village known for making Lao Lao wine and whiskey. The local beverage is thru simple process, fermentation in jar containers and boiling thru open fire using wood. Aside from wine, this village also sell exotic concoction placed in clear bottles and jars. Local handicrafts and fabrics are also displayed for sale. Under the rain, we explored the length of the village street and ended up at a Buddhist temple yard.
Laotian Long boat along the Mekong
Traditional way of making whiskey and wine
Lao Whiskey and Wine Products
Exotic concoctions for various cures
We trooped back to our long boat, with bottles of lao lao wine and souvenirs. We arrived at the town center for a quick lunch in one of the restaurants along Sakkaline Road. The afternoon schedule is for the visit to the beautiful Kuang Si Falls.
Bears around the world. Bears Rescue Center
Lower Terraced Pools
This stunning waterfalls is about 30 kilometers south of town and is accessible thru vans, tuktuks and bikes. The waterfall park has an entrance of LAK 20,000 per person. You get to visit to the bears rescue center on your way to the majestic falls.
After a few minutes hike, Kuang Si Falls unravel before your eyes.
Breath-taking Kuang Si Falls
And there it is, in its sheer beauty and grace, Kuang Si Falls of Luang Prabang.
Kuang Si in all its splendor