Tham Lot Cave, hiding in the Mae Hong Province of Northern Thailand, is a curious sight to behold and bears testimony to pre-modern human history. The coffin caves tucked within attracts a massive traffic of mostly adventure seekers. Discovering the eerie dark chambers and the thrill of exploring the long cavern that stretches up to 1,666 meters on a bamboo raft is an once-in-a-lifetime experience and goes down very well with offbeat explorers.
What’s So Awesome About It
Enjoy the breathtaking experience of floating on a rickety bamboo raft as you enter from one side of the mountainous caves and emerge from the other side. The darkness of the caves is cut by the altogether contrasting green jungles, lovingly surrounded by emerald waters.
Gliding across the waters with a sole gas lantern for a guiding light, enter the Columned Cavern where the inner walls come adorned with rows of stalactites and stalagmites reaching up to 20 meters in height. Further along, the Doll Cave with its beautiful limestone formations mimicking dolls, snakes and crocodiles, also houses a truly rare prehistoric deer painting. Towards the end, spot the Coffin Caves that stash remains of ancient clay pottery and primeval teak wood coffins believed to have been carved by Lawa tribesmen thousands of years ago.
This massive cave system is enough to stupefy tourists that are mostly greeted by deafening and often hypnotic sounds. For the bats that inhabit the caves, their echoes bouncing off its revered walls and ceilings, it’s just in fact a natural habitat. The Lang River seen at the entrance vanishes soon after, under the stupor of this mysterious wonderland. Little or no penetration of sunlight into these limestone caverns means that its steep steps and big grooves might not encourage the faint at heart and children.
What’s The Catch
- Owing to rising water levels inside the cave, access to certain parts of the cave remains limited between August and October.
- The guides barely speak any English and comprehension can often get tricky between the one guiding and the ones touring.
Things To Keep In Mind
- While one round of cave expedition takes about 2 hours, a moderate level of fitness and a comfortable pair of shoes is required to trek through the slippery cave flooring.
- Hiring a guide is strictly advised to avoid getting lost in unexplored areas.
How To Reach There
Take a 4-hour long local bus ride from Arcade bus station in Chiang Mai heading towards Mae Hong Son. Hop off at Pang Mapha or Soppong as previously called. This is halfway between Muang Mae Hong Song and Pai. Travelling from Pai along route 1095, take a short bike ride and turn right to find the signpost to the caves.
- Linger around the caves until sundown, to witness the evening departure of bats and swifts. These nocturnal creatures swarm out of the caves in a spectacular pattern so as to feast on insects. It cannot get any more unusual yet magical that this right?
- Remember to purchase some fish food sold outside the caves, to feed hungry fish and watch them fight over it.
Lose yourself while admiring the beauty of Thailand’s biggest cave systems accessible to tourists. One can also indulge in other activities like kayaking and visiting the tribal villages around Tham Lot Caves.