Wat Tham Sak Kalin
Wat Tham Sak Kalin is situated directly across from Luang Prabang and rests on shoreline of the Mekong. A short stroll from Wat Longkhoun along a dirt road leads you to the Wat Tham Sak Kalin temple. Nestled in amongst the trees with only a bright red rooftop visible from the river.
The temple itself has been recently painted and is bright and colorful. The walls inside and out depicting stories of the Buddha’s life and notably painted and completed by one artist. The senior Satu (monk) residing here is highly respected and joined by a junior monk and a few young novice.
Stairs leading up from the temple take you to the entrance of the sacred Sak Kalin caves. The keys are often in the hands of local kids living in the community who guide you through the caves in hopes of receiving a small tip for their services. It’s also worth noting that Sak Kalin caves were occupied during the secret war and hold great significance to the royal family. As does Wat Longkhoun.
Once inside, follow the stairs and/or local kids. Visible from the entrance and down only a few steps is a flat plateau decorated with Buddha statues. From here the stairs continue down through the cave. Not far along and to the left you will pass through a small but open walk way into a larger open cavern area. This is where kings of Lao would retreat for meditation and cleansing. Continue on a little further and you come to a dead end with a slopping rock face leading up to a small plateau. The local kids scramble up it all the time for fun even though there isn’t really much to see. You will return via the same path.
The caves themselves are bigger than Pak Ou caves in the fact that you can walk down into them and you need a flashlight. Yet small in comparison to massive cave systems that can be found throughout Laos and SE Asia. Either way, it can be a fun, short adventure and lies just across the river from Luang Prabang. We suggest about 30 minutes or so to explore the caves depending on your pace.
Note steps are uneven and can be slippery, especially if wet. There are some handrails and lighting throughout the cave however the electricity is not always working. Flashlights are available at the entrance of Wat Longkhoun where entrance fees are collected for a visit to the caves. They do the job most of the time but the batteries can be weak and the light dim. Your phone light can work just as good sometimes.
If tipping the local kids, please be mindful of the amount you are giving. We like to promote responsible tourism and being aware of how over tipping local kids can affect a local community is our job. As it can be difficult to judge on an amount to tip the kids. We suggest and feel 5,000 kip – 15,000 kip per person is sufficient and fare.