The Bud­dha Cave is one of the first stops on the Thakhek Loop, not far from Thakhek, Laos. 6 km down a dirt road off of Route 12, known local­ly as Tham Pa Fa (Pa Fa Cave). This Bud­dha Cave is filled with 229 bronze Bud­dhist stat­ues up to 500 years old which can be seen inside behind a short gate. It wasn’t until 2004 that the cave was dis­cov­ered or “re-dis­cov­ered”.

Nong Pa Fa (Pa Fa Lake)

Nong Pa Fa (Pa Fa Lake)

 

Buddha Cave Laos

Fees
Park­ing: 3,000 kip
Entry: 5,000 kip
Sin (Lao Skirt) Rental Fee (For Women): 3,000 kip

Buddha Cave Thakhek Laos

Entrance to the Bud­dha Cave

From the his­tor­i­cal and cul­tur­al stand­point, it’s an inter­est­ing place. Inside it is well light and smells of incense. It’s not a par­tic­u­lar­ly large or unique­ly beau­ti­ful cave and you can­not go very deep inside. It has more of a tem­ple feel than that of a cave. No pic­tures are allowed inside and it’s strict­ly reg­u­lat­ed with many signs and reminders from the atten­dants inside.

Looking down from the Buddha Cave

Look­ing down from the Bud­dha Cave

Access the cave by walk­ing down a wood­en path­way near Nong Pa Fa (mean­ing “Lake of Soft-Shelled Tur­tle”) amongst moun­tains of karst. It’s a beau­ti­ful area. Pay the 5,000 kip entry fee (3,000 park­ing fee for the area as well) and walk up the stone stair­case lead­ing up to the small entry (duck your head to get inside). It feels more like a tem­ple inside than a cave.

For 10, 000 kip (about $1.25) you can take a boat ride in the sacred waters below the cave. Swim­ming is not allowed.

For more infor­ma­tion on the Thakhek Loop check out the com­plete guide here, com­plete with lots more infor­ma­tion on the caves!

Thakhek Loop – The Com­plete Guide

Trip Advisor Reviews

Read­ing the reviews on Tri­pad­vi­sor peo­ple are quite divid­ed (and some­times ill-informed) about this one: “Must see” 5 stars and “Don’t go” with one star. Just know what to expect. It’s not an amaz­ing­ly beau­ti­ful cave like some of the oth­ers on the Thakhek Loop, but more of a tem­ple inside a cave, and not very big. From the his­tor­i­cal side, it’s inter­est­ing (I’ve includ­ed the his­to­ry of the cave below.)

Some peo­ple think it’s a shop and the Bud­dha stat­ues are for sale! They are tagged but I’m pret­ty sure it’s an inven­to­ry tag. You def­i­nite­ly can­not buy these arti­facts!

I don’t have any pic­tures from the inside, because it’s not allowed.

Getting to the Buddha Cave

Head­ing East from Thakhek on Route 12, around 4 kilo­me­ters turn left down a dirt road when you see the sign for “Bud­dha Cave and Pa Seuam Cave”. It’s 6 km on a dirt road. Dur­ing the rainy sea­son, the road has been known to get rough but was quite well grad­ed in the dry sea­son. After about 4 km take anoth­er left at the sign for the cave. It’s one of the first pos­si­ble stops on the Thakhek Loop.

Nong Thao Lake, Paseum Cave

Nong Thao Lake, Tham Pa Seuam

Tham Pa Seuam Cave (Tham Pase­um ) and Nong Thao Lake can also be accessed from the park­ing area and make the dri­ve out here more worth­while.

Tham Pa Seuam, Thakhek Laos

History of the Buddha Cave Laos

From tourismlaos.org

Buddha Cave Entrance

Bud­dha Cave Entrance

Tham Pa Fa Cave, locat­ed near Na Khang Xang Vil­lage in Thakhaek Dis­trict, recent­ly came into the news fol­low­ing the dis­cov­ery of 229 Bud­dha stat­ues in a pre­vi­ous­ly unex­plored cave. In April 2004, a local vil­lager by the name of Mr. Boun Nong entered the small cave open­ing 15m from ground lev­el. He had noticed bats enter­ing the cave and decid­ed to climb a vine to inves­ti­gate, with the inten­tion of col­lect­ing bats (a local del­i­ca­cy).

Pass­ing through the small cave entrance he looked down into the cav­ern below and to his amaze­ment saw a large Bud­dha stat­ue. Pro­ceed­ing down into the cave he real­ized that there were over 200 Bud­dha stat­ues rang­ing in size from 15 cen­time­ters to over 1 meter-tall. For one week he did not tell any­one in the vil­lage, as he did not believe what he had seen and thought that it might just be his imag­i­na­tion, but final­ly returned with a group of nine vil­lagers to rein­ves­ti­gate. Word about the new dis­cov­ery soon spread, and the cave has become one of Khammouane’s most vis­it­ed attrac­tions. The vil­lagers have since orga­nized them­selves to guard the cave and its sacred Bud­dha stat­ues 24 hours a day.

Local Laos Children

Local Laos Chil­dren, curi­ous about this Falang

The Bud­dha images are a col­lec­tion from the Sikhot­tabong and the Lane Xang eras, with some thought to be of Khmer and Viet­namese ori­gin. Togeth­er with the images, palm leaf man­u­scripts writ­ten in ancient Lao script, Lane Xang-style dhar­ma, Lan­na-style dhar­ma, Pali dhar­ma and ancient Khmer scripts are also present. It is unknown how these trea­sures came to be in the cave. The cave is named after the lake locat­ed at the foot of the cliff, Nong Pa Fa (mean­ing “Lake of Soft-Shelled Tur­tle”).

Gumprecht’s Green Pit Viper

Gumprecht’s Green Pit Viper

Gumprecht’s Green Pit Viper

Now before I wrap it up, here’s a shot of a Gumprecht’s Green Pit Viper hang­ing out in the tree next to the cave. This snake was only dis­cov­ered and clas­si­fied in 2002. Look but don’t touch!

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