The Cave of Teeth
Hidden in the mountains of northern Laos, Tham Khieo (the Cave of Teeth) is shrouded in mystery and rarely visited even by the most adventurous of travellers. Thought to be a cave used by the Pathet Lao during the Indochina War, local folklore includes that it may have been used to house American prisoners of war (POWs). With old display cases containing what are alleged to be both human and animal teeth, the opportunity to let your imagination run wild with the possible reasons and origins of these collections is hard to resist. The cave itself is also well worth exploring as it winds its way down inside the mountain. Check out these two videos for a first-hand experience.
Laos – A country of caves
The Cave of Teeth is located approximately a one hour drive outside of Luang Prabang in northern Laos. The Cave of Teeth is just one of the many caves worth exploring in Laos.
Caving highlights in Laos include Khong Lo Cave, an 8km long cave that you can kayak through from one side of a mountain to another, the Pak Ou sacred caves in Luang Prabang which contain thousands of Buddha images inspiring annual pilgrimages and scenic caves containing challenging rock-climbing routes such as those around Vang Vieng and Khammouane.
But head to Houaphanh Province in the far north east of Laos and you will find the Viengxay Caves and the remnants of the Hidden City. A network of over 400 caves and tunnels which provided shelter for more than 20,000 people from the incessant bombs dropped by the Americans during the Secret War.
The Viengxay Caves includes caves which were dedicated as schools and a hospital, foreign embassies, one was as a printing press, a radio station, and another a theatre. It was from within these caves that the Pathet Lao leadership emerged to become the communist leadership of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic.