Bolikhamxay Caves

Spelunkers may have to hunt for Bolikhamxay’s mountain holes. The province’s landscape of porous limestone karsts hides plenty of caves for discovering a dark world.

 

Tham Pha Muang & Tham Pha Singh: Travel north of Pakxan along the Nam Xan River to tree-covered Pha Muang, and inspect the boulder-filled base of the wide, round outcrop. Here, you’ll uncover the opening to small Tham Pha Muang with a sandy, watery floor. After scoping out the cavern, continue down the path to Tham Pha Singh (Tiger Cave). A prominent rock stump with clearly visible “claw marks” stands at the cave’s craggy entrance. Inside you’ll see stately, ivory-coloured rock forms.

To reach the caves, drive north from Pakse Town on Route 4B along the Nam Xan River towards Bolikham District. At Km 54, you’ll see Pha Muang. You can also visit the caves on the “Nam Xan Excursion”, which includes trekking, boating on the Nam Xan, and climbing to Pha Tak Daet Mountain’s viewpoint. To enquire about the tour, contact the Bolikhamxay Visitor Information Centre in Pakxan.

Tham Kaep: Follow a steep forest trail to a small waterfall trickling over the opening to Tham Kaep. Locals consider this cool overhang, behind the waterfall, as sacred, and visitors often relax there before continuing the hike to the top of the escarpment for its views. The caves are inside the Phou Kout Provincial Protected Area near Ban Nong Boua, about 75 km south of Pakxan off Route 13. 

Tham Pha Taen: Inspect a pair of jagged rock clusters jutting up from Ban Nong Boua’s rice fields, and find the hidden Pha Taen Caves drilled into the smaller rock mass. Climb the small rock mound to a pile of boulders stepping down to Pha Taen Mountain’s base and entrances to several underground passages. To reach Tham Pha Taen, travel some 75 km south of Pakxan on Route 13 to Thongnamy Market, and the turnoff to Ban Nong Boua, 6 km away on the Mekong River road. To enquire about a tour, contact the Bolikhamxay Visitor Information Centre.

Pha Muang Buddha Cave: Journey 50 km from Lak Xao to Pha Muang Houng Village and its sacred Buddha Cave. Inside you’ll find 20-plus small Buddha images made from flowers and gelatine from cows and buffaloes. The age of the Buddhas remains unknown, though locals believe their ancestors hid them in the cave during turmoil in the 1930s. They also think more Buddhas are hidden deeper in the cave. 

Tham Pha Kong: For hard-core spelunkers seeking real adventure, hike up Pha Kong Mountain near Pha Muang to its endless cave. Professional cave creepers have crawled 580 metres into the slick limestone-wall cavity before giving up. Tourists can walk in deep enough to enjoy its magical mix of shiny rock formations, about 50 km from Lak Xao.

Many visitors to Tham Pha Kong sign up for the “Nam Theun River Run”, which starts at Ban Thabak on Route 8 about 40 km west of Lak Xao. The program also includes a boat ride to Tad Kai Waterfall and Kaeng Luang Rapids, an exploration of Pha Muang Buddha Cave, and 4-hour trek up Phou Thaenchao Mountain for a great view. To enquire about a tour, contact the Bolikhamxay Visitor Information Centre.

Hospital Cave: Enter the massive cavern used by the Pathet Lao to treat the injured during the Indochina War in the 1970s. To reach the short trail to Hospital Cave, travel 25 km west of Lak Xao on Route 8, and stop at Ban Kuanchan Village.

Dragon Cave: Step into a huge rock dome featuring wet limestone walls and rock formations. You can carefully climb the rocks to the Dragon Cave’s natural skylight. This cave’s trail starts at Ban Poung, 7 km east of Hospital Cave on Route 8. To enquire about a tour to Hospital and Dragon Caves, contact the Bolikhamxay Visitor Information Centre in Pakxan.

 

Nature’s Backdoor…Bolikhamxay

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