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“Tham Phu Kham & Blue Lagoon”

Tham Phu Kham Cave and Blue Lagoon
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Full Day Pak Ou Caves by Boat from Luang Prabang
Reviewed June 19, 2012

Rented 3 quadbikes in town for the 5 of us, rode up to the cave with our friendly tour guide. What can I say. The trip there is beautiful and surreal, the lagoon is lusciously blue, the cave and golden Buddha are incredible. There is a small store next to the lagoon if you're in need of something to eat or drink, they also rent out tubes for a small fee if you want to relax in the water. Would definitely visit again, such a beautiful place.

Thank Bek B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed June 16, 2012

We hired bicycles and rode the 8k's out to the cave. A very scenic ride and you pass a few houses selling their handcrafts(very cheap). The cave is good climb, and you need to hire a headtorch befor you climb as the cave is very dark. The Blue Lagoon is at the base, a few were swimming but was a bit grotty for us.

2  Thank COLIN M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed June 13, 2012

The entrance to Poukham Cave is roughly half way up a cliff face which shadows the popular swimming spot known as the “blue lagoon.” From the parking area below, a large dark hole is visible in the vertical limestone massif which many, mistakenly, think is Tham Poukhams’ entrance. It is not. A closer inspection will reveal that it’s a large, inaccessible opening into the cave. The entrance proper is smaller and to the lower right of that opening which, incidentally, is approximately ten meters in height. The track up to the cave entrance runs straight up the cliff face and is almost vertical in places. In the more challenging stretches the locals have been considerate enough to install handrails to assist with hauling oneself up.

As I began my ascent I was beginning to find that these hikes up cliff faces were a seriously good workout if done at a reasonable pace and, after about fifteen minutes of hard slog, I arrived, breathing hard, at the cave entrance. I sat down for a few minutes to cool off, regain my breath and sort out my kit for the trip into the cave. With the breathing rate back to normal, my head mounted light in place and my camera at the ready I moved into the cave with a small group that had arrived a couple of minutes earlier. The narrow entrance went down for a few steps before opening up into a massive chamber; at least fifty meters in diameter. The pathway led down to a level plateau exposing even more of the mammoth entry chamber beyond. Cameras were working overtime as we all just stood there awestruck. The light coming through from the large fissure, in the side of the cliff, lit up most of the chamber with the reclining Buddha, at the center, clearly visible. There was plenty of “wow’s” coming from the mouths of the highly impressed young travelers gathered around me. A couple even mentioned that this alone made the trip up from Vientiane well worth it.

As I moved around getting shots from various angles most of the group, I’d come in with, began working their way down to the bottom of the chamber to look at the reclining Buddha. A few minutes later, I moved down to join them. Up close, the Buddha statue was much larger than it initially appeared from above. It was approximately three meters in length, the standard gold colour and mounted on a level cement pad built into the top of a rock. After about fifteen minutes spent banging off photo’s and checking out the reclining Buddha I was itching to get on with a deeper exploration into the cave. The locals had painted red direction arrows on the rocks where the going was a bit tight or it seemed like there might be a number of directional options for moving deeper into the cave. This was entirely possible due to the fact that there were hundreds of large boulders strewn around on the cave floor. The red arrows helped everyone avoid taking a wrong turn and going up a blind alley. I was still with the small group that I’d first come in with and, as we moved deeper into the system, we all turned on our head lamps as things got increasingly blacker. Eventually we passed through a large diagonal fissure into the second chamber. Looking back one could see still see light coming through from the first chamber; ahead of us it was pitch black.

We stood around for a while in the darkness, taking photos, and then everyone seemed to split up and go their own separate ways. I moved on towards the third, and last, chamber and observed that, even in the enveloping darkness, that the internal volumes were so vast you could probably fit a decent size shopping mall into them; the ceiling in the second chamber was at least forty meters above the floor. As I pushed on I could still hear the sound of voices echoing within the cave system. Those voices became more distant as I moved further in and the occasional flashes of light I’d been picking up; from the others’ head sets, faded into the distance as I worked my way deeper into the third chamber. Eventually got myself into a position where I could go no further and I was at the inner most point of the cave; there was complete silence and I was totally alone. I turned on my hand held back up light to get a better look at some of the formations surrounding me. The first two chambers are predominantly filled with fallen rocks and petrified formations (meaning that there is no more ongoing calcification taking place from a dripping water source). The third chamber looked completely primordial with amazing formations everywhere. Due to the fact that the chamber was so vast the small, inbuilt flash on my camera didn’t have the throw to do the size of the third chamber justice. I positioned my hand held flash light to help create a better lighting effect while I got took some photo’s.

After about thirty minutes spent taking it all in, and snapping off a few more shots, I decided it was time to head back out and began picking a route back around the opposite side of the cave that I’d entered through. Back in the second chamber, I bumped into another group and stopped for a chat about the third chamber. I noted, like most I’d seen in the caves, that they were also dressed in shorts and flip flops. They moved on and I moved towards the first chamber. I wanted to get to a viewing point directly below the large fissure that lit up the first chamber. After another twenty minutes spent working my way slowly, but surely, around the massive, jagged rocks strewn about I was finally in position. With the natural light at my back I was able to bang off a few shots without the flash, looking down at the reclining Buddha, in a direction opposite to that which I’d originally entered the cave.

I checked my watched and noted I’d been in there for over two hours. It was time to head down to the spring fed pool, at the base of the cliff, for well earned dip to wash off the dirt and sweat. Thirty minutes later I was sitting down, next to the natural pool, enjoying a pineapple shake, and reflecting on what a great day it had been.

Please Note:
I found a number of examples graffiti (names and scratched on and mud handprints) on the walls of the caves in Vang Vieng. I find this kind of handiwork to be crass and completely lacking in appreciation of what a cave environment is all about. I guess some people just can’t go anywhere without leaving there primitive calling cards announcing where they’ve been. Perhaps you should pee on the lampposts as well?

Safe traveling


6  Thank MEGA-ASIA
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed June 3, 2012

Crossed the bridge and wandered along following the blue arrows till the part where we cross the rice fields where all the Laos people are working hard preparing the fields. Crossed the field where a man at a hut is waiting to collect the 10,000 kip fee per person. A little apprehensive as sign says fee for ticket but the man didnt have any tickets, foolishly we paid and asked where the caves and lagoon were.. he pointed in a few directions and we went on our way. Sadly there is no signage, lots of tracks in all different directions... we defintely found the blue lagoon which was a great cooling off after walking about looking for the caves. We think we found some sort of cave but not the Tham Phu Kham Cave sadly. After walking out the real ticket seller was there looking to sell us tickets to enter and told him we'd been scammed by a local farmer so our new policy is "No ticket No pay!"

2  Thank WessandCorinne
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 25, 2012

We arrived a short rickshaw ride from the city.
Instead we spent a few hours.
You can bathe and enjoy the local water amusement.
To miss the spectacular cave upcountry (no need to pay for guide, you can travel independently, take a flashlight)

1  Thank Elpel8
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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