Tham Xang, Vientiane

Quick Facts:

Located in a scenic karst area to the northeast of Thakaek, Tham Xang (or Elephant Cave) is one of many famous caves known for its remarkable limestone formation and having prominent Buddha statues housed around it.

Located in a scenic karst area to the northeast of Thakaek, Tham Xang (or Elephant Cave) is one of many famous caves known for its remarkable limestone formation and having prominent Buddha statues housed around it.

Tham Xang once had a limestone formation created similarly with an evil monster’s head which made locals frightened and it was even taboo to drink the water flowing from it. According to the legend, in 1956 after finding poor health spread through the village, the locals decided to destroy the “evil’s head”. Soon after, stalagmites and stalactites have miraculously created an elephant head in the cave and the health of the villagers has been improved. Since then, the cave has been known as the “Elephant Cave” and become an important Buddhist shrine. So every year, pilgrims often visit this site in the Lao New Year to sprinkle water on the elephant head and pray for good health. Tham Xang cave used to be the refuge for thousands of people who are the revolutionary fighters. It was used as a hospital, an arsenal where Japanese soldiers used the bat droppings from this cave to make gun powder during World War II and a medicine depot which still have evidence nowadays. There’s also interesting Buddhist items including a few Buddha images, Buddha “footprint” and a small black box containing Buddhist literature. The area surrounding offers beautiful scenery and from the view of the top of the cave entrance people can see the stretching Mekong River.

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