Tham Xang

Tham Chang - Tham Sang - Elephant Cave

Useful Information

Location: Near Vang Vieng. South of the city, on the other side of the river.
(18.909403, 102.442795)
Open: no restrictions.
Fee: free.
Classification: SubterraneaCave Church SpeleologyKarst Cave.
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Guided tours: self guided
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: no
Address: Green Discovery Laos, Hang Boun Rd, Ban Hay Sook, Vientaine, Laos P.o Box 9811, Tel: +856-21-264528, Fax: +856-21-218373. 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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Tham Xang (Elephant Cave) is a cave temple with a huge stalagmite resembling an elephant. However, it was named so after the discovery of giant bones which make clear that the cave once served as an elephant's lair. And of course the elephant is important to the people of Laos, so it is definitely a good idea to call a cave Elephants Cave. The cave is very popular with the locals around the Lao New Year in April, so you should probably avoid this time. The locals go to the temple to sprinkle water on the elephant head and pray for good health.

This cave is actually a single chamber with several niches, which was transformed into a cave temple. It has a shrine with a Buddha statue flanked by naga, which are mythical snakes that protected the Buddha. The snakes - being mythical creatures - look actually more like dragons. According to legend they are shape shifters and can transform into human form. The next huge Buddha statue lies and sleeps, watched by the sculptures of three worshippers on each side. There are more Buddhas statues and a Buddha’s footprint.

Tham Xang’s grand golden bell was made of an American bomb after the fierce war between Vietnam and America (1964-1973). The best time to visit Tham Xang is in the morning, when sunlight enters the cave and the Buddha statues become wonderfully dazzling. The cave is easy to visit and being a temple open to the public, has paved floor and electric light. It is best visited on organized trips by tour operators.