The rugged cliffs near the confluence of the Mekong and Nam Ou rivers just short of Luang Prabang have long had incised steps leading up to the Pak Ou Caves, home to thousands of Buddha statues. In climbing the steps and leaving the river below, you might contemplate the journey of prior generations of pilgrims to this place, each placing a Buddha on the cave’s stepped surface alongside the many others placed by locals. Pak Ou is a centuries-old store house for damaged, outdated and mostly wooden statues from temples across the region. The caves are accessible only from the river and, in overlooking the far bank and the cragged terrain beyond, you might imagine the meditative state the original monks sought while at this place. Absorb simple Laotian tranquility amidst the natural beauty and ascetic isolation.