The stunning limestone mountains that tower over Vang Vieng are riddled with caves of all kinds. Some are large with spectacular stalagmite and stalactite formations, while others are so small you can barely squeeze inside.
Lusi Cave is three kilometres from town and 1.8 kilometres past Pha Poak. The cave is primarily famous for a lagoon inside in which you can swim in the pitch dark. Guides at the entrance to the cave are able to show you the way to the lagoon which is about a 25-minute walk from the entrance of the cave. We witnessed many people arriving to the cave entrance by bike and choosing to turn around soon thereafter upon realising that the swim in the lagoon was in the dark. If you choose to hire a guide, add 10,000 kip to the entrance fee of 10,000 kip. To get to Lusi Cave, follow the directions to Pha Poak.
Heading north from Vang Vieng on the main highway about 11 kilometres from town is a well-signed turn off to Pha Thao Cave. A further two kilometres down dirt roads and across a bridge is the ticket booth (admission is 10,000 kip) for the cave where you pick up your torch. Once inside the cave, the going is easy due to the flat, dirt floor and small ladders to help climb up ledges. Inside are some interesting features, large caverns and about 20 minutes worth of passageways. This is well worth a stop on the way to the Elephant and Water caves.
About a kilometre past the turn off to Pha Thao is the well-signed turn off to Tham Loup, Tham Hoi and Tham Nam better known as the Water and Elephant caves. Follow the dirt track to the village where the entrance to the Elephant Cave is. Inside the cave is a golden reclining Buddha with statues of worshippers standing around it. At the far end of the cave is another large and impressive Buddha. From there it is possible to walk across the rice fields to another large cave that stretches kilometres into the mountain. It can be slippery inside this cave and a guide is recommended for about 15,000 kip. Admission is 10,000 kip (plus 5,000 for bridge toll).
The main reason most people come all the way here, however, is for the Water Cave. The Water Cave is simply a network of rivers running through the mountainside. The cool thing is that you can hire a tube and torch for 10,000 kip and follow a rope right through the cave. This water is chilly, but the 30-minute return journey is worth the minor discomfort. Dry bags are also offered to guests so you don’t have to leave your valuables behind.
The Water Cave is a short walk from the Elephant Cave – ask villagers for directions.