Tham Pa Fa

Buddha Cave

Useful Information

Location: Near Ban Nakhang Xang.
Open: On guided day trips by ecoguides.
Fee: Included in day trip fee.
Otherwise small fee at entrance.
Classification: SpeleologyKarst cave
Light: bring torch
Guided tours:
Address: Tham Pa Fa, Khammouane Guide Service, Tel: +856-51-212-512.
Southep Phoochana, advisor in Khammaoune. E-mail: contact
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
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APR-2004 229 bronze Buddhas rediscovered.


Tham Pa Fa or ถ้ำหนองปลาฝา (Tham Nong Pa Fa, Buddha Cave) is really famous: it contains 229 bronze Buddhas which are said to be over 300 years old. They were rediscovered in April 2004 by thy villager Boun Nong. He had noticed bats who flew through a hole 15 m above ground. He climbed a vine to investigate and collect the bats, which are a local delicacy. When he entered the cave he found the Buddha statues which are between 15 cm and over 1 m tall. He could not believe what he has found, and has he thought it was imagination he told nobody for a whole week. Finally, he asked some other villager and with a group of nine villagers he returned to investigate the discovery.

As the word about the new discovery spread, the cave became one of Khammouane's most visited attractions. Actually this made problems too. To protect the cave and its sacred Buddha statues the villagers organized guards for 24 hours a day.

The cave contains Buddha statues from the Sikhottabong and the Lane Xang eras. Also palm leaf manuscripts written in ancient Lao script. The documents contain religious texts like Lane Xang-style dharma, Lanna-style dharma, Pali dharma and ancient Khmer scripts. So far it is not clear how the treasure came to this cave and why it was stored here.

The cave has two levels, the upper level is dry and contains the buddhas, the lower level is water filled and is visited on canoes. The water forms a lake in front of the cliff, called Nong Pa Fa (lake of soft-shelled turtle). The cave was named after this lake.

The cave is reached on a hike, which enters a secluded valley with steep cliffs by crossing a through-cave. The first cave reached is Tham Nong Paseum, which is a water cave. More adventurous participants which are good swimmers can explore the 400 m long cave with impressive stalactites and stalagmites.

The cave is moderately developed, with a bamboo ladder to the entrance and leveled floors. There is daylight in the cave, but it is advisable to bring light, if possible a headlamp. We also recommend good shoes, long pants, a shirt with sleeves, mosquito repellent, sunscreen, and a hat for hiking. The visit requires hiking and optional swimming.