Exploring Tham Phu Kham Cave, Laos

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Tham Phu Kham Cave
Tham Phu Kham Cave

Tham Phu Kham Cave

Tham Phu Kham is a cave to the northwest of Vang Vieng, Laos, located just to the northeast of the village of Ban Na Thong. Its name means “Blue Lagoon” due to its blue waters. The cave is revered by the locals and contains several Buddha images. The largest is a reclining bronze Thai Buddha in the main cave.

Tham Phu Kham Cave- Blue Galoon
Tham Phu Kham Cave- Blue Galoon

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A hiking trail on the forested hill leads to the Phu Kham cave’s entrance, about halfway up the limestone cliff. The 200 meter climb is quite steep at places; the trail is equipped with handrails at the steepest sections. The cave is a labyrinth of chambers, galleries and crevices filled with stalagmites and stalactites; the air is cold and moist.

First chamber with reclining Buddha image

Past the entrance is the first large chamber which is well lit. A hole in the ceiling allows the rays of the sun to come in. The chamber contains a large bronze reclining Buddha, lit up by the sunlight. Local Buddhists come to light incense sticks and pay homage to the three meter long gold color Buddha image.

The Interior of Phu Kham Cave
The Interior of Phu Kham Cave

Galleries and chambers deeper into the mountain

Red direction arrows have been painted on the rocks to mark a trail. After a while the arrows disappear and there is no clear path to follow. From the main cave several galleries branch off deeper into the mountain. Past the first chamber there is absolute darkness and a torch or flashlight is essential to see where you are going.

While some of the chambers are quite large and relatively easy to navigate, venturing into other parts of the cave means climbing over ledges, crawling through low crevices and in some places wading through the water.

Take great care wandering deeper into the cave. There is no clear marked path to follow, the floor is slippery and uneven and there are many drops and falls.

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