Indochina Map
Pak Ou Caves
Pak Ou Caves

Numerous caves punctuate the limestone cliffs around Pak Ou – the confluence of the Mekong and Nam Ou rivers. The best-known are the "Buddha Caves", Tham Ting and Tham Phoum. They have been used for centuries as a repository for old and unwanted Buddha images that can no longer be venerated on an altar, and the hundreds upon hundreds of serenely smiling images covered in dust and cobwebs make an eerie scene. Tham Ting, the lower cave, just above the water's surface, is light enough to explore without artificial light but the upper cave is unlit

On the opposite bank of the river is a village that for thousands of years produced stoneware jars but has now found that distilling liquor is more lucrative. The inhabitants of Ban Xang Hai, referred to by English-speaking boatmen as the Whisky Village, are quite used to thirsty visitors stopping by for a pull on the bamboo straw. The liquor is made from fermented sticky rice, and pots filled with hooch are lined up on the beach awaiting transport up or down the river.

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